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Rebuilding community in Sea Lots

By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Twitter: @gordon_lp

The Eternal Light Community’s (ELC) project in Sea Lots will provide education and skills to persons and develop the area.

In his July 12 ‘Conversations with Archbishop J’ column, Archbishop Jason Gordon announced that the ELC was acquiring three warehouses in Sea Lots which will be used for a music recording studio, training facility and a centre for development.

Deborah de Rosia, director ELC, said the project “is all-round ministry for the entire community” and will be multifaceted as ELC seeks to bring about change and develop the lives of residents.

Funding for the warehouses came through the Republic Bank’s Power to Make a Difference programme which provides the opportunity for diverse communities in pursuit of sustainable development.

The warehouses were previously owned and used for storage by a contractor. A company will undertake the architectural work on the warehouses free of charge and, when completed, another company will focus on the design of the music studio.

Courses to be offered are auto mechanics, woodwork, carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, information technology, tailoring, geriatric nursing, culinary arts, agriculture, beauty culture, music, sports training. An evening programme for adults will provide life skills training, Adult Literacy Tutors Association (ALTA) classes, and other subjects will be taught including CXC Mathematics and English.

de Rosia, commonly known as ‘Sister Debbie’ explained the courses offered were based on consultation with the community and interest by both young people and adults. She added, “everything is going to be biblically based so there will be Bible teaching, religious instruction is a very important part right through”.

A nursery on site will assist the participants unable to get supervision of their children while they attend courses.

de Rosia said the classes will be conducted by “mentors” from all over T&T. Criteria were being established for them so interviews could take place.

Sharing the dream for the facility she said, “This is a developmental project and it is the development of a whole community…to change attitudes, vision and values through education; we are also going to be working with families so we’re going to be employing a social worker who will deal with families’ intervention.”

Psychologists will be involved to do assessments of children and make recommendations for their learning. de Rosia reiterated the project was not just about a school; “we are seeking to rebuild the community.”

Counselling will be available to bereaved persons who’ve lost loved ones and have not had the chance to speak about it.

The original intake for participants was to be 150, but de Rosia said the building will be prepared to allow for expansion so there will be sufficient space to accommodate 200-250 persons. de Rosia disclosed that approximately 150 persons have indicated a desire to participate.

“It is our hope that for the school year in September [2021] that this school will be open,” she said.

Sister Debbie de Rosia, Leela Ramdeen, chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, Rhonda Maingot of the Living Water Community and Sr Ruth Montrichard SJ, chair of Servol (Service Volunteered for All) received the Benemerenti Medal on September 11 for service to the Catholic Church. The medal is a papal award given to members of clergy and laity. She said of the recognition, “Thank God, it was a surprise”.

She commented that she has been involved in religious instruction and Sunday school since she was ten years. “I am now 66 so it is 56 years, I have been working with the Church and if the Church chooses at this point to say ‘thank you’ then I am grateful.”

She was thankful to all the people who worked with her over the years. de Rosia added, “it’s well into 50 years that a number of people have partnered and held hands with us as a community and so for all of us it is important for us to recognise that God notices the little that is done for the change and development of a nation and of the Church.” She again gave thanks, “May God be praised.”