Quite apart from establishing the infrastructure related to the business of oil and gas, bpTT has been investing in the community and fuelling the dreams of generations, financing a micro-enterprise development program and scholarship programs, supporting sporting activities and institutions, and establishing a resource centre which makes critical services accessible to the community.
The Mayaro Resource Centre (MRC) is a nucleus for development. The centre has been instrumental in addressing one of the biggest concerns for Mayaro/Guayaguayare residents: The lack of tertiary level educated persons in the community. Today the MRC is the home of the Brighter Prospects programme and the University of the West Indies Open Campus.
The baton gets passed as the Brighter Prospects programme provides secondary and tertiary level scholarship awards to students from Mayaro/Guayaguayare, whereas the UWI Open Campus has made the attainment of university level qualification within the community a reality.
Wendell Perez is a member of the Mayaro Past Pupil Association, the Mayaro Village Council and the South Corner Basketball Foundation. He is also the Chairman of the Brighter Prospects Selection Committee and has been an employee of Petrotrin’s HSSE department for the past twenty years. Wendell was born and has lived his entire life within the Mayaro community.
He said: “In my days as a youngster, the idea of meeting someone on the street with tertiary education was far-fetched. Tertiary education was for visitors to the area or the very wealthy in the community.” He added that today, through bpTT’s Brighter Prospects scholarship programme, “every street and little area of Mayaro/Guayaguayare has persons who have attended or are attending tertiary institutions…and there are two doctors in the community (both Brighter Prospects recipients) that I can call by name!”
Inside bpTT talked to three Brighter Prospects recipients, Kwineil Alexander (UWI), Faytonia Maraj (COSTAAT) and Sherice Toussaint (UTT). These young women have embodied academic excellence since primary school, placing in the top 15 in the region at S.E.A. examinations.
Of the impact of the scholarship award in their lives and in the wider community Alexander said: “Coming from Mayaro, it is harder to go out of the community to access educational opportunities due to the remoteness of the community and in many cases financial constraints.”
Toussaint explained: “BPTT’s grants and scholarships help us with the costs of books, transport, rent and other living expenses. “And that is why bpTT has been my motivation. If it were not for the Brighter Prospects scholarship I would not have wanted to aspire to more. This scholarship has allowed me to expand my horizons and I appreciate all of the opportunities that bpTT offers to us in Mayaro/Guayaguayare,” Maraj chimed in.
The UWI Open campus is also closing the gap where tertiary level educational is concerned. A large percentage of the campus’ students are recent secondary school graduates like Samantha Roopchan, who earned a certificate in Early Childhood Care and interns at the Kernahan Early Childhood Centre (ECC) – a pre-school supported by bpTT. However, the campus is allowing older persons within the community the opportunity to go back to school to achieve university level qualifications.
The MRC is also home to bpTT’s biggest social investment success story, the Mayaro Initiative for Private Enterprise Development (MIPED). MIPED is a microfinance loan facility that also offers business planning services to its clients. MIPED began in 2001 when bpTT made an initial capital investment of $7.2 million in the programme. It has now grown to become a $50 million revolving fund in the community, with 2000 in loans given out and 4000 jobs created.
If Mayaro’s currency is its people, bpTT is working to increasing its value.
Magdalene Bernard is the proud owner of a mini-mart on Church Road, Mayaro, and a beneficiary of bpTT’s MIPED programme. Bernard started off selling preservatives with just a table and chair outside her home. But she had big dreams. She approached MIPED and received a loan through their H.O.P.E. programme. Valued at only TT$2,000 it was all she needed to move on to bigger and better things. To date, Magdalene has received 5 MIPED loans, with these loans, she has been able to increase her product offering, acquire new appliances and equipment and expand her business.
BPTT also supports social investment opportunities for those in the community whose strengths lie outside of academia and entrepreneurial activity, facilitating safety training and other services that equip young people with the basic skills that they need to gain employment in the energy industry.
Several sporting organisations and tournaments receive the support of bpTT in the community. The company has sponsored the football league, night cricket tournaments, netball and basketball competitions. Akeela Rodriquez, former Brighter Prospects recipient and the current manager of the Mayaro Sports Facility (MSF) says the facility “plays host to many of these bpTT-sponsored sporting organisations and programmes and they provide a constructive outlet for youth in the area,” adding “without bpTT’s sponsorship many of these programmes would not exist.”
The impact of these sporting initiatives is two-fold. On the one hand, it is producing top sportsmen, feeding future medal hopes with programmes aimed at developing raw skills over a period of years. In addition, as Brighter Prospects recipient Alexander explained, “the leagues and tournaments help to build community spirit…there are not many activities that bring the community together and the leagues unite all of the minor villages for some good fun and competition.”
BPTT has also supported health initiatives in the community. Villius Bob, the instructor at the PSL gym, based at the Mayaro Resource Centre (MRC) is a man who is passionate about fitness and health. “The PSL gym caters to persons of all ages in the community and is the training base for many sport organisations. BPTT owns all the equipment in the gym and is also a sponsor of most of our fitness programmes - the most popular being the annual fitness burn. The gym’s aqua-aerobics class is very popular amongst the more mature population in Mayaro,” he said proudly. “Since the company’s involvement with the gym there has been a tripling of membership.”
BPTT’s economic footprint looms large over the socio-economic landscape of Mayaro/Guayaguayare. The partnerships formed with the community, and social investments in the area produce tangible results, improving developmental outcomes in the area. Rodriquez agreed, ”BPTT is giving the community a good foundation for ensuring future sustainability.”