Residents from the five phases that comprise the wider Beetham Gardens community packed the Beetham Gardens Community Centre to celebrate the results of the enterprising initiative which saw them compete for valuable prizes of computers, smart watches, household appliances, furniture, and garden equipment and tools.
The project, culminating in the awards ceremony, marked the best of Beetham Gardens. An immediate impact was a willing name change for one community, from the self-deprecating Hell Yard, to the more inspiring Hope Garden, now proudly displayed on signboards.
The sheer emotion of the occasion moved Norman Christie, Regional President of energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago, sponsors of the Beyond Borders initiative, to put aside his prepared speech and “speak from the heart."
“We are extremely heartened by what we see here today. We see something special on the faces of every one of you. We saw it on the faces of those persons featured in the photographic display. It is total pride. This programme is not about corporate social responsibility. It is about people. It is about you. Let me thank The Rose Foundation for partnering with bpTT. Thanks also to my team for going the distance. My biggest thanks go to the community of Beetham Gardens. You could have seen us as outsiders but you partnered wholeheartedly with us,”
Christie told the appreciative audience.
The bpTT team at the function included Giselle Thompson, Vice President, Corporate Operations; Joel Primus, Stakeholder and Community Sustainability Adviser; and Rachel Caines, Corporate Responsibility Adviser.
The Beetham Gardens Beautification Competition, which was launched last December, required residents to develop gardens using plants, fruits and vegetables over a six-week period. Some 300 persons participated in the project, with 22,000 seedlings provided.
The inter-community competition represents yet another dimension of the wider bpTT/Rose Foundation Beyond Borders initiative which focuses on empowering several ‘at-risk’ communities across Trinidad and Tobago, including Beetham, Covigne (Diego Martin), Embacadere (San Fernando), Kernahan (Mayaro) and St. Barbs (Laventille).
Giving full support at the function were area councillors Adana Griffith-Gordon and Akiel Audain. They challenged the residents to make full use of the opportunity to plant the land to become self-employed and to make a real difference.
“We are seeing new signs of progress in the Beetham. You are making a positive impact on your community and your country. But you need to take it further,”
Audain urged the residents.
Earlier, Sterling Belgrove, founder of The Rose Foundation, provided insight into the beautification programme:
“The idea started with the need to make an intervention in ‘at-risk’ communities in order to drive their sustainable development. We decided on Beetham Gardens because this community faces the greatest challenges. It is a community immersed in a ‘carbon black-hole’. We wanted to engage them in a process that would bring more oxygen to the area. The exercise is not just to beautify a space. It is to restore beauty in the minds of people and to cause them to dream,”
Kerwin Alexander, Chairman of One Call Foundation, is a pioneer of the Beetham Gardens’ Beyond Borders programme.
“Since Beyond Borders came to the Beetham in 2014, there has been a breath of fresh air blowing in the community. The programme has changed many lives for the better. Already, some people are planting crops in a sustainable manner and earning a living from it. We are really grateful for this positive intervention in this community,”
said a proud Alexander, who, along with his wife Stacy Graham, was presented with a Selfless Service Award.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Hearts & Minds Unit, which is stationed at the Beetham Gardens Joint Community Service Centre, was presented with a ‘Special Award’ for its work in the community.
Selfless Service Awards, for Most Engaged Residents, were presented to: Stephenson Westfield (President, Beetham Gardens Village Council), Kerwin Alexander, Sean Williams, Eligel Charles, Ancil Villafana, Stacey Robertson, Stacy Graham, Tifari Sobers, Kenneth Rodriguez and Keisha Jacob.