Written by: Kwesi Hamilton- Participant
On the twenty-third of November 2019, participants of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Youth Peace Ambassadors Programme were given an amazing opportunity to visit the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Base at Staubles Bay Chaguaramas. It was a trip that the team will truly never forget -it was extraordinary!
The Peace Ambassadors Programme is the second phase of the Positive Deviance “Upfull Hustlers” programme which took place in early 2019. The aim of the programme is to move youth away from an attraction to gangs and violence and transform them into youth mentors and peace ambassadors.
At the visit to the Coast Guard Base, we learnt and experienced how the organization evolved, and were exposed to their operational techniques and methods. The team also explored the base’s Historic Museum, and was lectured by a recently promoted Officer. It was compelling to hear the difficult challenges that the Officer faced in his life, as it in many ways mirrored our lives, as he also came from a so-called ‘at-risk community’. The main lesson learnt from this Officer’s life story was that no matter what you may encounter in life, always keep your head up, push forward for what you want to achieve, and never stop moving until you complete the task.
The team and I agreed that this is an important message to emulate as we chase our dreams- just as the Officer is doing with his life, my peers and I intend to work hard and never give up!
We also learnt important lessons about leadership. Mr. Torinio Tracy is a Captain in the Coast Guard, commanding the CG 60, which is the largest ship in the military! As a Captain, he is granted major responsibilities, special operations tasks and assignments. We witnessed that even though Mr. Tracy has a high rank, he interacted well with his officers, giving them a chance to voice their opinions and he also treated us with great respect.
I can certainly say that because of that experience at the Coast Guard Base, many of us now feel that we have the ability to join the service, and we can also become great leaders in command of a military fleet!
It is an honor to be a participant in the Youth Peace Ambassadors Programme. The UNDP continues to provide us with various life skills, techniques and encounters that help to change our mind-sets. This character development and capacity-building programme has allowed us to grow and has spurred us to excel in our individual fields of study and desired professions.
We all look forward to what Phase Two has in store!