Aspiring Minds Foundation hosts book drive

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Betty Ann Byng, director of Aspiring Minds Foundation, organises books for distribution during a book drive organised by the NGO at Gransul Street, San Fernando, last Monday. – Lincoln Holder

Through its latest initiative, the Education is The Key to Success book drive, members of the NGO Aspiring Minds Foundation hope to have a positive impact on the lives of students from low-income families and ask the public for support.

Last Monday and Tuesday (August 15 and 16), the NGO distributed school supplies at Celebration Centre Gransaul Street in San Fernando.

Speaking on behalf of the organisation, director Betty Ann Byng told Newsday that although the NGO got over 500 requests from school principals, it can only assist about 100 of them.

Betty Ann Byng, right, director of Aspiring Minds Foundation, speaks with recipients at a book distribution drive organised by the NGO at Gransul Street, San Fernando, last Monday. – Lincoln Holder

The principals explained to the NGO that one of the main factors contributing to pupils’ poor academic performance was their lack of access to resources like textbooks and school supplies.

Byng added, “A lot of primary and secondary schools asked for help. We have been doing book drives since 2017. In 2020, we became a registered NGO. Our book drive last year helped over 303 students. We are hoping to get to that figure this year.”

Apart from the book drive, the organisation has hosted other events to engage students.

They held a virtual Carnival showcase where students showed off their talents in any aspect of the culture.

Byng said, “It was not a competition but a showcase on Carnival to keep them active. We also have cultural-based programmes to promote the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. We encourage the young people to develop their talents pertaining to our culture.”

Jenelle Kelsi Williams, 14, shows off her book voucher after participating in a talent event held by the Aspiring Minds foundation NGO last Monday. – Lincoln Holder

She said the NGO had difficulties helping everyone who asked for help, and the pandemic worsened the situation.

Byng said, “Our main challenge is the lack of finances. Our sponsors help us as much as possible, but we are getting requests from other organisations as well. We are still in much need of help.

“We are grateful for all the support received from Maritime Financial, National Flour Mills, Angostura, Colfire, Bumpy’s BarBeQue, Eastern Credit Union, Powergen, TECU Credit Union and PSCU Credit Union.”

Aspiring Minds wants to help as many students as possible but cannot do it alone.

“We cannot do it on our own and humbly ask for your support through donations to buy textbooks and stationery,” Byng appealed to the public.

People can donate via the foundation’s Republic Bank chequeing account number 080800573201.