Feature Address at the Re-dedication of the Blanchisseuse Community Centre
Dr. The Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly
Whether you take the 26 mile road from Port of Spain or the option of 23 miles from Arima, I will agree, it is worth it, when you arrive in the beautiful town of Blanchisseuse. I want to thank you for welcoming me to the community as we re-dedicate this Community Centre.
We got a lovely account of the history of this community and the centre from Ms. Lee Quay (Secretary of the Community Council), who did a very good job of educating us and putting in context what this centre means to this community of Blanchisseuse. It epitomises a wellspring of positive community spirit which underpins in any area, sustainable community development.
With a vibrant community council over 60 years old, this original centre was opened by the First Prime Minister of this country, Dr. Eric Williams, and Princess Anne, and I am sure that all of us who do not reside in Blanchisseuse have a little bit of envy, when we look at the history and learn that Sir Solomon Hochoy, the country’s first Governor General lived here, and we do not live in this area and are not privy to the lovely air and views of Blanchisseuse.
Since 2015, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts has been hard at work, and we have, under difficult circumstances, managed to open 14 community centres. This fact demonstrates the commitment of the government to delivering to different communities and people, these most important community facilities.
This community infrastructure is a priority in the Ministry. It is these spaces that represent the coming together of communities, not only for the Ministry’s programmes like Community Education Programmes, Skills training, and of course the Best Village Trophy Competition, but the many other uses to which these facilities have organized through the years, and will organize in the coming years. And that represents to us the heart of community development. These centres remain a priority for the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Arts.
This centre is a place where the community will gather, different generations will interact with each other, and traditions will be passed on from one generation to the next, resulting in the preservation of community heritage and the building of community spirit.
Based on what I have heard and seen this morning, I know that this centre will be a hub for the community of Blanchisseuse and environs.
I know how anxious you are to further expand your internet café, resume your computer classes and homework centre. And I want to commend the community council today for its foresight, entrepreneurial spirit, and vision that has transcended the years. It means that from generation to generation, that spirit is passed on in Blanchisseuse and for this, I must commend you.
So now that you have a newly refurbished community centre, we at the Ministry look forward to more and better from Blanchisseuse. This centre has been the recipient of refurbishment works to the tune of two million, fifty-six thousand, six hundred eighty-seven dollars and fifty cents ($2,056,687.50), but we know that its value to the community is much more than that. I want to thank the UDECOTT for their work; the Project Managers for their work in ensuring that this centre was finished to be able to open today, and I want to thank the contractors as well for their hard work, and ensuring that everything was in place so that we can sit here in comfort and re-dedicate this centre for the community. It is more than just an edifice, and you will agree with me, it is a lovely building well outfitted, and this is a symbol of the commitment of this community and of the Ministry to really push the quality of life for all our communities forward in a sustainable way.
I wish to thank all the different stalwarts in the community who would have agitated for the completion of this centre, those who would have worked on the original community centre that you had and was available to you, and all the persons who would have contributed to us reaching this level, where we are now sitting down in this beautiful centre to be re-dedicated for you.
As we entrust this centre to the community council and community, I want to echo the sentiments of Chairman Leacock, that this must be a centre for all, for the development of all, for the use of all, and of course, by calling this centre you own, we expect that you would take the best care of it, that you know how to, and that the Ministry stands ready to support you so that generations after you will have use of this beautiful centre and the best will live on as different generations come to the fore.
So I look forward to the cultural activities and from the performances of the schoolchildren, from the early childhood to the primary school and the secondary school, I see that Blanchisseuse is a community full of culture, rich heritage, and that the culture of this country is in good hands in the community of Blanchisseuse.
I look forward to seeing the Best Village performances from you, I look forward to seeing the CEP classes bearing a lot of fruit, as we now have a community centre that can act as the hub for all this development to take place.
I want to again say a very special thank you to UDECOTT for your continuous support around the country, as we try our best to deliver to Trinidad and Tobago, centres where they can make for community development in the shortest space of time and of course, falls within budget.
Thank you to UDECOTT, thank you to our contractors again, and I want to thank the staff of Community Development Division ably led by Mrs. Susan Corbett for their efforts, always ensuring that we are ready to open a centre in fine style.
So to everyone involved, I thank you, and the staff of the wider Ministry who would have contributed in every way.
This centre is more than just a building, it really is a symbol of our dedication to this country to build ourselves, change our community and make Trinidad and Tobago a better place.
Thank you all and God bless.