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Saturday, October 21 2017 @ 05:30 PM AST

$6.1M Community Centre opened in Hindustan

General News From left: Minister Clifton De Coteau, Minister Nizam Baksh, Self Help Chairman Surujdeo Mangaroo and Community Development Supervisor Deodath Rampersad cut the ribbon at the formal openeing ceremony of the Hindustan Community Centre last evening. The following is the verbatim address delivered by the Honourable Nizam Baksh, Minister of Community Development at the formal opening ceremony of the Hindustan Community Centre this evening in New Grant.

Thank you all for being here.

I am very happy to be opening this new Hindustan Community Centre today. I was here in January to see for myself the status of this project and to ensure that this very important facility would be opened on time.

I recall my days as a Community Development Officer attending meetings at the shop with Lloyd Phillip - former MP and Councillo, Mr. Andrew Hart, old man Atwell, Harvey, the Colleys, Desley George and the Christophers. Baptiste Church.

Purpose of Community Centre

A Community Centre is meant to be a place where residents of a community can meet for group activities, public education and recreation. The Ministry of Community Development is responsible for the construction and oversight of Community Centres across Trinidad. Today, I am proud to note that after only one year in office, my Ministry is delivering to you - the people of Hindustan – a well-equipped, modern Community Centre.

Cost of Construction

This centre was built by H&T Maintenance Company Limited, led by Mr. Hugh Hackett, at a cost of $6,094,286.77. So I want to congratulate the contractor, our employees, and the Project Manager, the National Commission for Self Help Limited.

What this means is that Government has invested heavily in the people of Hindustan, and with that investment comes a legitimate expectation of returns. Of course, these returns would best take the form of service to the community and care for this building. As you would care for your living room, I implore you to also care for this community centre - the new living room of the Hindustan family.

While the completion of this Community Centre represents an important milestone in Hindustan history, our Ministry’s aim is to create a profound sense of community all across the country. In its most basic sense, the idea of community speaks to a location or a neighbourhood. Further, in the practice of Community Development, ‘community’ represents the relationships and social ties that draw people together.

History of the village of Hindustan

Hindustan has a remarkably rich history that could and should draw the members of this community closer. Hindustan was one of the areas where former slaves formed companies on their arrival from different locations across Africa. So it should come as no surprise that this is a community that exemplifies national unity. The name Hindustan originated in India. As the Hindustan Community Council relates, “When indentureship was introduced, the Indians who came from India were assigned to an estate within this community. These indentured labourers were brought from Hindustan and other areas in India, and wanting to retain ties with their homeland, the Indians named the community Hindustan.”

Right up to the late 19th century, Hindustan remained popular for cane farming and other forms of agriculture. Today, the community remains strong in food production, and symbols of the rich agricultural history can be seen throughout the village.

Hindustan is also a popular tourist destination. Since the 1800’s the Mud Volcano has been drawing local and international visitors who come to see the wondrous, natural phenomena. With Government, and some corporate assistance, the area has developed into what is officially known as the Devil’s Wood Yard Nature Park.

Hindustan’s human achievements have been equally outstanding. Skill, talent and energy define the residents of Hindustan. People from this area have made their mark in the fields of medicine, sports and cultural activism. Exceptional performance in stick fighting, and in the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition, also attests to the abundance of talent in Hindustan.

Sense of Community

I also sense a strong community spirit that inspires a sense of belonging to this community. I anticipate that the opening of this Community Centre, while providing a public venue for the residents of Hindustan to interact, will also enhance the desire to further develop the natural and human resources of the community.

Uses for the Hindustan Community Centre

Community facilities in Trinidad and Tobago are built with the aim of creating strong and healthy communities where people feel a sense of belonging and empowerment. This centre provides a perfect venue for residents of Hindustan to address these needs.

The Community Council has also identified some of the needs of the people of Hindustan. These include:

• Skills Courses including Computer Literacy

Improved Sporting facilities •

• A Home Work Centre; and

• Networking Opportunities

I am pleased to inform that this new community centre will be a catalyst in meeting these needs. However, these needs will only truly be met when the wider community lends its support and skills to the cause. So I take the opportunity to issue a challenge to the people of Hindustan to consider how their knowledge and competencies can help to continually improve the Hindustan Community – your community.

Opportunities for members of Hindustan

Through the Community Development Officers for your area, who are all present here today, I urge you to make full use of the programmes that will be deployed at this community centre.

For instance, the district staff manages the Community Education Programme, which trains hundreds of persons each year to become skilled workers in over 60 disciplines including small scale agriculture, tiling, aerobics and computer literacy. Many of the graduates go on to start their own businesses and become self-sufficient contributors to their communities. I am certain that Hindustan will join their ranks and possibly even raise the bar.

One need expressed by the Community Council was to have afterschool homework classes for children in need of this extra care. I am sure you will all agree with me that this is a very good starting point to get primary, secondary and tertiary students to interact and to become involved in the community.

Hindustan’s Community Activities

In the past, Hindustan had a number of community groups including a women’s group, a sports club; and activities including excursions, Mayfairs and Easter celebrations. I hope that there can be an expansion or revival of these groups and activities, to increase networking and to strengthen social ties. I look forward to your participation in the Prime Minister's Best Village Trophy Competition as well.

Conclusion

If Hindustan were to achieve these goals that have been set, your community would be well on its way to becoming resilient, self- sufficient, and one that responds positively to changes in the environment.

Most importantly, you will also be contributing to the two Pillars for Sustainable Development, that relate to us:

- People Centred Development; and

- Poverty Eradication/Wealth Generation and Social Justice.

In closing, I thank you, the people of Hindustan, for your warmth and hospitality. I also want to reiterate my gratitude to the hardworking staff of the National Commission for Self Help Ltd., the Project Unit, the Community Development Division, in particular, the Victoria East office, and other Units of the Ministry, for helping to make today a success. I have every confidence that you will use this Community Centre to strengthen and build Hindustan.

I now take great pleasure in declaring the Hindustan Community Centre formally open, and I dedicate it to the people of Hindustan.

Thank you and may God bless us all.

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