“Each of us can make a difference…” - 21 sept 2008

“Each of us can make a difference…”

Through a project of the Morris Marshall Foundation, I met Terrence Caesar.  What interests me about Terrence is that he is committed to making a positive difference in his chosen area - which is working with young people.  During the day, Terrence is a teacher at the La Veronica R.C. School in Lopinot.  He has been a teacher for the past 16 years (including being Teacher of the Year in 2007 – 2008) and before that; he was a police officer for 5 years. 
Outside of work however, Terrence is involved in Scouts but not just as a Scout leader.  He also serves as the Deputy National Scout Commissioner responsible for Planning and Development.  He is involved in the Youth Group at his church in Tunapuna; and serves on the Board of the Eternal Light Community Vocational School in Tunapuna. 
The Eternal Light Community Vocational School is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to ‘provide a holistic and well rounded learning experience to its students’.  In practice, this means that they work with children with emotional or learning challenges that make mainstream schooling difficult.  Catering to approximately 100 students, the school was officially opened in December 2005 and offers courses including masonry, plumbing, clothing design, music, home economics, craft, small business management, screen printing, English, mathematics, drama, computer literacy, woodwork, electronics, cosmetology, art, literature, morals and ethics, machine shop, tiling, welding and agriculture.  The School is at present working with the Ministry of Education towards being officially ‘recognized’ and therefore being able to benefit from more government support.  Kudos to the team at the Ministry of Education for encouraging these types of projects.
Terrence believes that the 3 biggest issues facing young people today are a lack of respect by adults, a lack of guidance and a lack of confidence.  As a result, we have young people who may appear to be ‘normal’ but who are actually ‘walking time bombs’.  Most adults may have little idea of the struggles that many of these young people face daily.  Furthermore whereas communities once took collective responsibility for raising children, this is no longer the case. 
We spoke about teaching and Terrence explained that he does not believe in good teachers and bad teachers.  Instead there are teachers and imposters because true teaching is a calling and a way of life.  It is not only about getting children to memorize facts.
In terms of crime, Terrence prefers to focus on what “I as an individual am doing” as opposed to only what the government may or may not be doing.  He firmly believes that our daily actions with children help determine whether they will be the next ‘bandits’.  Terrence jokes that his motives are actually selfish in that he believes that by treating the children he meets well, they would become the future adults who would help him - rather than rob him, when he becomes a senior citizen.    
What I like about Terrence is that despite the challenges he sees in his work with young people, he is not a complainer.  He believes that each of us can make a difference if we choose to.  Terrence considers himself to be blessed with an ability to interact with children.  As such, it is his responsibility to continue doing what he can for as long as he is able to. Fatca Law Singapore
In terms of Vision 2020, efforts like Terrence’s would fall under ‘Developing Innovative People’ and ‘Nurturing a Caring Society’.  A couple Fridays ago, I was talking to my good friend Daryl about, among other things, Vision 2020.  In his typical diplomatic and sensitive way, he hinted that to him, the document or the concept is too ‘political’.  I took some time to really reflect on his point.  Perhaps he is right and many would probably agree with him.  But my other friend Anthony’s position is that he has yet to meet someone who has read the document and still disagrees with the overall Vision.  Regardless, there are some really admirable ideas in that draft document – especially the sections that support integrated approaches to youth development as well as the work of Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs).  It is important to support initiatives such as those that Terrence Caesar supports as we all move towards Vision 2020.

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