I am immensely pleased and honoured, to join you this afternoon at this,
the occasion, to formerly inaugurate the new Executive of the Heliconia
Foundation for Young Professionals!
Birthed in 2012, this esteemed youth-led and youth-serving Foundation,
prides itself on being a “think tank” of young professionals, whose vision
is to establish a strong network of progressive thinkers, committed to the
advancement of youth participation in decision-making.
Let me congratulate Mr. Farai Hove Masaisai and the Executive of Team
“Prosperity”, on a fight well-fought at the recently concluded elections.
Reflective of your tagline, you are indeed the past, the present, and the
Mr. Masaisai, I do not know how you balance it all, as a family man,
Attorney-at-Law, Volunteer, newly-appointed Chairman of the Friendly
Societies Advisory Council, and now the prestigious role of Heliconia’s
President. It is safe to say that there is hardly anyone more deserving,
since you were democratically and legitimately elected by your peers and
This, Mr. Masaisai, speaks volumes to your leadership ability. I foresee
a very fascinating and promising future for you, your team, and all of you
Heliconians. You have been entrusted, as President and Executive of the
Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals, with distinctive
responsibilities that I know you will all fulfil exceptionally.
Permit to also acknowledge Mr. Vyash Nandlal and his team, for their
hard work and commitment to the Foundation. They too, put up a good
fight during the campaign; and I trust that they will continue to promote
and advance the work of the Foundation.
My friends, the actions and objectives of the Heliconia Foundation, are
synonymously aligned to some of the Strategic Priorities for Youth
Development, outlined in the Draft National Youth Policy of Trinidad and
Tobago 2020-2025, which we, at the Ministry, will be launching in the
very near future.
Your objectives are parallel to what the Government of the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of Youth Development and
National Service hope to achieve for our nation’s youth.
The strategic priorities of our Draft Youth Policy, seek to place youth as
co-creators of a sustainable future, where our youth population,
notwithstanding their socio-economic identifiers, feel empowered and are
strategically engaged as active citizens toward Trinidad and Tobago’s
economic recovery. This, my friends, is but a miniscule portion of what
you have to look forward to.
As I stand before you this afternoon, I implore you to continue to make
Heleconia a positive and growth place for our young professionals. Make
it a safe place, especially for our young women to learn, grow and express
themselves. Women have always played a crucial role in promoting
peace, leadership and development.
Within recent times, we have seen and will continue to see how they too,
are breaking tremendous ground – and magnificently so – as global leaders,
head of fortune 500 companies and sporting champions. Right here in our
own backyard within the last decade, we have experienced our first female
Prime Minister and President, and I am privileged to be a part of a Cabinet
where one third is female.
As I look into the audience, I can easily identify among you,
entrepreneurs, finance and labour industry leaders, medical practitioners,
and Attorneys-at-Law. WOW, so many Attorneys and Legal Counsels,
one would think it was a pre-requisite to become a Heliconian.
Friends, my Ministry recently had very candid talks with some young
entrepreneurs about their vision for youth, and one of the young men –
very successful in his field of agri-business said to us that “youth want
and deserve opportunities to not just sit at the table, but to partake in the
best meals prepared”. And I would add; participate in the menu planning
and preparations. I paraphrase of course, but look out for that airing in
the coming days where you can hear the ‘unedited version’ of that
comment, and be sure to contribute to the conversation. The “Big
Conversation”- provided the diverse youth panel a platform to share their
expectations the newly established Youth Development Ministry, and
vision for the four hundred and sixty-eight plus thousand young people of
Trinidad and Tobago.
We also conducted another youth-focused discussion- “Youth on the
Money” which highlighted opportunities for youth emanating from the
2020/2021 National Budget and the benefits to the youth population.
At the Ministry of Youth Development and National Service, we want to
assure you that your voice matters. We want to make MYDNS yours!
Was that a MYDNS plug, of course it was! I can’t be standing here telling
a group of spirited movers and shakers to seize the moment and not take
the opportunity myself.
I digress. That young man who spoke about “the table”, while he himself
“creates tables” and “prepares meals” for youth interested in agribusiness, I wish to re-iterate to him, and to all of you, that there are times
when you wait for the invitation and other times when, like him, you
design the invitation, or even better, host your own dinner. From all
accounts and from what I have seen first-hand, Heliconia is about hosting
the dinner. This organisation is about creating a strong network of leaders
and politicians, while fostering a sense of togetherness and civicmindedness among its membership.
In the embryonic stages of my career and even my life, I always felt a
magnetic and monopolising pull – a calling of sorts- on my life to serve.
Thus, I began my journey as a Training Instructor, with the Trinidad and
Tobago Police Service, where I schooled young recruits in the art of
weapons and the martial arts. I later answered my call to serve, as an
Attorney-at-Law which led to my thrust into politics – what I humbly like
to refer to as, the pinnacle of my journey. My tenure in the political
landscape has afforded me a great privilege to serve, not just the members
of my constituency, but all the citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and
Why do I mention my journey, you may ask? Because walking into this
facility this afternoon and chatting briefly with so many of you before
taking this podium, I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, detecting
your deep desire to serve, to lead, and to contribute to the very fabric of
It was the same sense of service that I felt the first time I walked into the
Red House, with an amalgamation of feelings, as the realisation settled
that I was becoming a part of our nation’s history.
Only a few weeks ago, I would look on at young Ministers and
Parliamentarians as they narrated at the first of their own presence in that
proud and nation-building place!
As an emergent politician, while I had the support of my loved ones, peers
and family, I had to be heavily self-motivated to achieve and advance in
my career. Heliconians have something that I did not have at the parallel
stage in my career – this Foundation for Young Professionals. You have
the advantage of a network of like-minded, intelligent and enthusiastic
young people to advance your personal, professional and national
developmental agendas. You have an opportunity to stand on the
shoulders of those giants that went before you and to learn from them and
engage with those of us still here.
You are the leaders of tomorrow, so continue to contribute to the
sustainable development of the national landscape, as your actions today
determine your future, and the future you wish to see for the next
generation. Become the leaders you wish to see- become the leaders of
At the Ministry of Youth Development and National Service, we are
profound proponents of advancing the youth agenda, through nurturing
our youth, developing carefully curated opportunities through mentorship,
entrepreneurship and volunteerism, while supporting and creating
leadership roles for all young people, at all levels and multifaceted sectors
You have joined us on this journey! May you with God’s guidance
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for the honour to be here and to speak
with you today! Congratulations again to Team Prosperity!!
Season Greetings and May Jah Bless and protect each and all of you!
I am immensely pleased and honoured, to join you this afternoon at this,