‘We Need Safe Spaces in T&T’

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

TO the people who are working hard to make Trinidad and Tobago a better place giving selflessly of their time, knowledge and finances, continue to do so.

The encouragement comes from the founder of the non-governmental organisation Drama Making a Difference (DMAD) Company Andre Dillon.

Dillon in a video shared on social media acknowledged the concern with the rising crime rate even as regional leaders getting together to discuss violence.


He said, “Continue doing what you are doing because it could be a little bit hassling when your efforts going and you just feeling like if it going in vain.”

Using a garden as an example, Dillon who has been working with young people for decades, said everyone likes to see fruit but somebody needed to plant.

“We reaping some fruits that we don’t want. The delinquency, the crime, the home invasions. Those things we don’t want. But who is taking the time to plant the seeds to bring forth the fruit that we want?” he said.

Dillon encouraged those already planting positive seeds in the nation’s youths to keep at it.

He said, “Don’t give up on it because in due time, we will reap the benefits. As a matter of fact, it real important to have a garden, it real important to have space to have young people to strive to grow to develop themselves.”

Speaking further on the topic to AZP News, Dillon once again called for the establishment of active “safe spaces.”

A safe space he emphasised was not a liming space.

“A safe space is where the child could come and really and truly develop themselves in a certain skill. They have access to counselling, food, proper supervised content. It is not  a liming space.”

Dillon who is involved in educational programmes using drama as a teaching tool said the level of crime and corruption did not happen overnight.

Admitting it may be a controversial statement, he said, “As a society, we are  a little bit lazy… we want to get the benefits and we don’t want to work.”

A lot of people were willing to give of their time but also run the risk of having their fridge run empty he said.

Dillon said, “The very same people who have the heart and the passion to invest in the young people, they have to go and work in a bank, they have to go and be a police officer because the system is not catering for them.”

While national heroes especially sporting heroes can easily motivate young people, consistency was needed along with safe spaces.

With most national athletes starting off in humble settings, Dillon said some after representing the country had to resort to delivering goods in the east.

Commercial spaces were not cheap and Dillon said from Tunapuna and beyond along the east-west corridor monthly rent starts at $10,000, money which most NGOs willing to plant good seeds did not have.

He said, “The funny thing is the people that have the finances and I am not saying it’s the government, the people that have the finances that really and truly making a mint of our society, making a mint of our citizenry, they are not pumping back money into the system.”

The suggestion is made to these individuals and businesses to adopt an NGO and financially support it religiously so it can make the impact that is needed for positive change, not just sponsoring an event or occasion but “running proper safe spaces.”

With finances being a problem for many, many are not afforded the opportunity to hone their skills.

Dillon said, “At the end of the day, these children will end up somewhere and where? The majority of the time, they are ending up on the wrong side of the road because the people who taking time to nurture them now using them.”

He continued, “Young boy 14, jumping a fence to go and break in somebody house, a seven-year-old will hold a gun for a man, an 18-year-old will hold some weed, will hold some cocaine for somebody. They might not go into the heavy crime but they might start off.”

Dillon said this is how they think, “I here and my country not providing an avenue for me to grow.”

On the issue of the many community centres built, Dillon said it needed to be manned and staffed properly.


He said, “Our leaders are not being held accountable for not staffing those buildings and that is our problem.”

Both Government and Opposition leaders needed to be held accountable along with judges, police officers and law enforcement.

On a note to the Opposition, Dillon said, “Blocking everything is not doing benefit for the country. If the government doing something to benefit the country and you recognise it could benefit the country, promote it. If they doing stupidness block them, do what you have to do.”

At the end of the day, the everyday citizen is the one who feels the impact of crime the most as well as the young person who gets caught in a criminal act, he said.


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