See About Children in T&T First, Then Ones in Syria

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‘…what about the thousands of women and children here in Trinidad and Tobago, that are emotionally and physically scared by abuse, crime, violence, and trapped in what seems to be a never ending cycle of poverty?’


Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

LET me preface this article by stating that I am not a cold, dead hearted person. In fact, despite not being an overtly, openly emotional person, I do view myself a chronic empath, who is tormented many a night over the problems facing the people of my nation.

That being said, I have found myself greatly conflicted over the repeated narrative of the repatriation of women and children who left or were taken from T&T to join the Islamic States campaign in Syria.

I cannot fathom what these women and children have lived through during times of conflict and what they are living through now being stateless and in refugee camps. Yes, some of these women agreed to follow their husbands and knew what they were going too, but many either did not have a choice or were simply lied too.

The children are the truly innocent ones. The traumas they have suffered many of us cannot even begin to comprehend.

They didn’t choose to leave, heck, some were even born there. They didn’t start the fight but were caught up in it and have ended up on the loosing side.

On Thursday, Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally announced his intentions to go on a fact finding mission to Syria, to address the concerns of 30 plus of his constituents who have relatives detained in camps after leaving to join ISIS during the height of the Syrian Civil War.

His intentions are to gather information needed to continue putting pressure on the Government to assist in bringing these women and children home.

Now, in a perfect world I would full heartedly support bringing them home and dedicating public and private services and resources to rehabilitate these traumatised citizens.

But… and this is where my conflict comes in… what about the thousands of women and children here in Trinidad and Tobago, that are emotionally and physically scared by abuse, crime, violence, and trapped in what seems to be a never ending cycle of poverty?

What about 2,800 children that dropped out of school between 2020 to 22? Where are the fact finding, lifesaving missions to help them.

A big argument many people have against the repatriation of individuals is “how do we know they haven’t been radicalised? Aren’t we risking bringing home future terrorists”, well here’s the truth, see those 2,800 children who left school, how much of them do think are being radicalised right here in the form of being recruited into gangs or other forms crime?

How can we even think about deradicalising and healing those trapped abroad without addressing those here, in our communities, our villages, our homes?

Those who have been seeking repatriation of the women and children, often claim they have or can arrange for rehabilitation and such services are available here at home. So I ask, if these rehabilitative resources are available why aren’t utilising them for the children currently here who are desperately in need of help?

Why aren’t we fighting for our own children? They are just in as much danger as those abroad. Take for example the pregnant 16-year-old who was shot and lost her baby. Tragic as that is, what is just as tragic is that she is also the mother of a two-year-old, meaning she gave birth at 14. Fourteen!

Or what about the case reported yesterday where a police officer was arrested for raping his own child. Or the endless number of runaways and cases of abuse that appear to be permanently print in our newspapers.

These children, who are right here under our nose, have been failed. Failed by our education system, our social support services, their communities, families, everyone.

Speaking about his impending trip, Rambally said, “It is said in our society and in all societies that the true test of the morality of a society is what society does for its children.”

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Unfortunately, the way we treat our children, both here and stranded abroad. speaks volumes on our nations broken morality.

Before we can handle the needs of the children and women in Syria, we need to be able to handle the needs of those on our soil. Sadly, our charity and our caring needs to start at home. Until we can put the fire out in our own house, we cannot begin to save those who outside.


One thought on “See About Children in T&T First, Then Ones in Syria

  1. Perfectly said Alicia
    Maybe the return of nationals and children should be funded by their families and their religious affiliations

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