Bishop’s High student wins spoken-word competition

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services Lenor Baptiste-Simmons (left), Tsehai Olliviere of Bishop’s High School, Tobago (centre), winner of the Erasing Poverty With My Pen spoken word competition, and Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox at the prize-giving ceremony held at the Diego Martin Community Center, Diamond Vale on June 17. – Photo by Enrique Rupert

Tsehai Ollivierre of Bishop’s High School, Tobago has won the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services spoken-word competition titled Erasing Poverty With My Pen.

The prize-giving ceremony was held on June 17 at the Diego Martin Community Centre, Diamond Vale.

Research specialist Stephanie Balchan said the ministry observes the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, celebrated on October 17 each year, and is committed to addressing poverty, social inequality and exclusion.

Balchan said, “The spoken-word competition was geared towards young persons from the ages of 14-18 who were invited to share their ideas on improving the social protection system to end poverty and enhance resilience in Trinidad and Tobago.”

Permanent secretary Lenor Baptiste-Simmons said, “It is a well-known fact that children are profoundly impacted by poverty. Thus it is imperative to provide a medium for young people to voice their opinions and perspectives.”

Baptiste-Simmons said the goal is to build resilience and to eradicate “extreme” poverty throughout TT by 2030.

Of the 39 participants, Ollivierre placed first with 117 points. Colette Boyce and Antonia Graham both of St Joseph Convent, San Fernando placed second and third with 116 and 115 points respectively.

Ollivierre said, “I was astonished, because I didn’t realise that there were so many participants. It is a great feeling knowing that my efforts were impressive to the judges.”

She said she wanted her piece to stand out, as she knew everyone would speak about “financial poverty.”

“My mother always speaks about mental slavery and poverty and its impact on society, so it was an obvious choice for me.”

Ollivierre has aspirations of becoming a lawyer and plans on taking spoken word more seriously in the future, as she has been doing the artform for a few years now.

Her mother Traysi Boyce is very proud of her and continues to be impressed by her.

“She is a natural winner and she continues to make her family and Tobago proud.”

Boyce said she does edit her daughter’s pieces, as: “My daily commentary is a key basis of her poems.”