According to an ecstatic 14-year-old Refealla Patrice, who attends Moruga Secondary School, “I was blown away because bpTT has given us very powerful Microsoft Surface Pro laptops. This will allow me to gain a tremendous advantage in terms of my education because up to now, I had to use a phone to study online during this pandemic. Beyond my studies however, I am in the process of creating a skincare company based on my own product line. This cutting-edge tool will allow me to further my research and I will also use it to add content to my YouTube channel. This isn’t just a laptop that they’ve given us – bpTT has given us an advantage in terms of realising our full potential and achieving our dreams.”
This technology support programme forms part of bpTT’s overall coronavirus (COVID-19) response, which is providing $1 million to help supplement the needs of the most vulnerable populations across Trinidad and Tobago. The technology-based support began with the distribution of 15 tablets in May, given to students across Mayaro and environs to aid them in preparation for the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination.
Speaking to the laptop recipients via virtual conference technology was Joel Primus, corporate sustainability and stakeholder relations advisor, bpTT, “This pandemic, though turbulent and tragic, presents a good opportunity for us to take a deeper look at the world around us. There are new opportunities emerging and I urge you all to look at becoming tech-entrepreneurs focused on solving local and global problems. At bpTT, we are proud to be able to provide these tools to advance your education and create new opportunities. In empowering you, we are really transforming communities, our nation and the world as a whole. You will be the ones to usher in a new future.”
“As an international organisation, we have worked from home since March and have not suffered any loss in productivity. We are continuing to work on a global level as we re-invent BP for the future and in large part, this requires the application of technology. We are changing and adapting just as you are, and I urge you to use these laptops to keep advancing and achieving your goals,” Primus added.
Apart from the ten students, five non-governmental organisations also received laptops to aid them in their own community-based education and relief efforts. Receiving the computers were the La Brea Fisherfolk Association, Shield Us From Gang Violence Personalised Learning School (SU-PLS), the Hearts and Minds Foundation, the Moruga Development Association and social entrepreneur, Nikita McIntosh.
Relating the impact of the bpTT-sponsored laptop was Desrie Slinger-Griffith, founder of SU-PLS, which is assisting students in the East Dry River area of Port of Spain: “Propagated by the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become a critical period of social, economic and technological transformation. With the closure of schools, I started a learning school that uses interactive learning software to access and monitor the progress of students in real time. My own computer was old and this new laptop will empower me to teach more effectively. I will also be able to share it with students who don’t have a device of their own. I am really grateful for this bpTT initiative and it is really helping students who could be left behind during this era of technological transformation.”
Coordinating the relief efforts on the ground for bpTT has been the Rose Foundation, led by Executive Chairman, Sterling Belgrove. Apart from the laptop distribution, the Rose Foundation has managed the establishment of six food banks across the country, which has provided hampers and other assistance to 1,040 families thus far; meaning that well over 4,500 persons have received relief at this critical juncture.
Belgrove urged the recipients to make the best use of the cutting-edge technology, “Each of you was selected because you have the most promise and are already making a positive contribution to society. This gesture shows that as long as you stay on the right path you will be rewarded for your efforts. This is also an incentive to expand and grow and continue to empower others around you as well.”