Charford Court community gets enhancements

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Children of the Charford Courts Tiny Tots preschool plant produce in grow boxes as part of a community fair hosted by the HDC. – Photo by Paula Lindo

RESIDENTS of the Charford Court development, Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, planted shrubs and produce, painted the community playground, and took possession of an iCare recycling bin as part of a community fair hosted by the Housing Development Corporation Facilities Estate Management Company Limited (FEMCoL).

Children attending the Charford Court Tiny Tots preschool participated in planting lettuce, chives and other produce along with community members and FEMCoL, SWMCOL, EMA and HDC staff. The children also painted the walls of the playground where the grow boxes were located, and participated in the commissioning of the iCare bin. They delighted the audience members by reciting a poem about recycling.

A resident said the initiative was a good one, as it brought the community together.

“The way things going right now, the area have a fear for what is going on. We’re hearing too much gunshots. To bring the people together it’s a very good venture. It’s a nice thing they’re doing, especially including the children. The youths are the future. We have to get them involved.”

However, one resident said HDC had its priorities wrong.

“The building needs painting. They need to paint the building. The floor where I living where it burn, up to this day they have a little end of paint and nothing ent done yet. So none of that making any sense to me. They will plant those things there and after a while, they drying up.”

SWMCOL general manager Wesley George said the Empowering Sustainable Communities initiative includes a community clean up, a beautification exercise, and a community fair. He said this was the second time the programme had been carried out, the first in Riverside North, Corinth, San Fernando.

“A major part of FEMCoL’s mandate is to establish vibrant communities in HDC developments. We want to move from seeing these developments as structures and assets, but as communities and homes in which people can come and live, feel safe, and have dreams and memories, and be places residents can be proud of.”

Deputy Port of Spain mayor Abena Hartley said the initiative has been two years in the making. She said at that time an agricultural project had been started at the front of the compound, which had led to a harvest of patchoi.

“We thought how can we introduce urban agriculture to a space like this? How can we introduce economic activities to a space like this where we have some challenges. It has been resonating within the residents, how can we make this sustainable? I was approached by two residents a few weeks ago who said they had an idea and I said, say less, let’s make this happen, and about a week later FEMCoL said they wanted to do a community programme, and here we are.”

Hartley said soon people could expect to see a farmer’s market in the community.

SWMCOL CEO Sean De Souza said the Empowering, Sustainable Communities (ESC) was not just about planting trees.

“It’s about planting seeds of positive change which impacts the present, the future and those who share this beautiful space. It’s about nurturing a society that values the environment and understands the role we all must play.”

De Souza said SWMCOL was in the business of making sure Trinidad and Tobago was looked after health-wise.

“I don’t know if you can remember when last there was a pandemic of cholera or public disease issues, and that is because SWMCOL was doing something right.”

EMA iCare assistant project manager Dale Jaimungal said he appreciated FEMCoL’s efforts to teach youth about recycling and waste management in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We need sustainability in waste management. The landfill is a defined space and as we continue to grow as a population, we need to be mindful of what we throw out and minimise this from reaching the landfill. The iCare project involves having bins for collection of recyclables at public spaces and primary, secondary and tertiary schools.

“We are reaching the communities, young people and students. We are creating the wheel so that recycling can be part of Trinidad and Tobago culture, in an attempt to alleviate the problem of flooding we see as a nation by reducing waste from going into drains and rivers. If we move forward without intervention, it will only get worse. I think it (iCare bins) should be mandatory in all plazas, housing developments, and residential areas.”

FEMCoL CEO Keston Mc Quilkin highlighted the need for a resident association to be formed.

“Such an association will serve as a unified voice for all residents, providing a platform to address concerns, propose initiatives, and collaborate on community projects. It will enhance communication between residents and FEMCoL, ensuring that your needs and aspirations are effectively represented. A resident association will also foster a greater sense of ownership and responsibility among you the residents, empowering you to take an active role in the development and well-being of our community.”