Chad Monerville and Tirshatha Jeffrey are passionate youth advocates who plan to use the CARICOM designation to push the cause of young people. (Picture by Insight Digital.)
New CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Chad Monerville and Tirshatha Jeffrey are on a mission to open up more opportunities for young people both in Barbados as well as elsewhere in the region.
Their appointments, to run until 2020, were recently announced by Minister of Youth and Community Development Adrian Forde at the ministry’s headquarters in Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall, St Michael.
Monerville said he was looking forward to carrying out their mandate.
“The minister thinks outside of the box [and] I am looking forward to working with him on the block project. I am also looking forward to working with the female ambassador to effect the mandate of CARICOM. He [Forde] believes in moving young people forward,” he told NATION Y.
He added they would be meeting with CARICOM officials soon to be briefed on the immediate priorities.
For him, areas that needed attention were: increasing the social and physical presence of youth representation through e-democracy and e-governance; solutions to climate change; facilitating “youngtrepreneurs”, as young entrepreneurs were referred to by Forde; gender equality; and quality education.
Monerville, a 22-year-old engineer, was also recently appointed as deputy board chairman of Erdiston Teachers’ Training College.
He said retooling and retraining the population was important, adding that there is a need for education reform to accommodate technology and incorporate subject areas such as robotics, programming and utilising foreign languages more effectively as we prepare students for a digital age in a global environment.
He and Jeffrey wanted to bring about more engagement, he said, adding that it is vital to get young people to buy-in to CARICOM.
As such, there were plans to set up an effective youth committee utilising the best talents in academia, entrepreneurship, technology, finance and social media.
Asked if he would be interested in pursuing a career in politics, Monerville said: “Politics is a matter of timing . . . . I work in the built environment. Once I do my two master’s degrees, I see myself leading policy and developmental projects across the region and the globe”.
Jeffrey, 28, has worked extensively with young people in tutoring, counselling and through volunteerism.
“I have been doing youth work for a long time and you meet leaders who believe that because they were young 20 years ago, that they understand us. It’s so refreshing that [Minister Forde] understands young people.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of the West Indies, and is awaiting the results of her dissertation for a master’s in forensic linguistics. She has worked in marketing for about three years and joined the Marketing Department of the Nation Publishing Company about two months ago.
“I have been doing youth work for over a decade, mostly with children and pre-teens. My formal volunteer work began when I was a tutor in academics, music and theatre at the Robinson Community Learning Centre in Indiana, USA. During that time, I also tutored students privately or through programmes hosted by churches and schools I attended. When I moved back to Barbados, I continued tutoring and volunteering.
“Now, I mainly work with the NCSA [National Council on Substance Abuse] as a counsellor on Project SOFT, a week-long camp that is geared towards helping new first formers transition from primary to secondary school and assist in other short-term initiatives. I also volunteer with Honey Jam Barbados.”
Jeffrey said opportunities should be provided for young people and especially at-risk youth.
She saw unemployment and a lack of engagement as two of the biggest challenges facing young people.
“Unemployment is an issue because it is hampering the independent spirits of young people who have to rely on their parents for continued financial support. It is also affecting the self-esteem of those who feel inadequate because they are unable to support themselves or their families.
“Unemployment is also stunting our nationwide development as it is making it more difficult for young people to begin the path to land or home ownership, get access to capital to help them start their own businesses, or invest in other ventures,” she explained.
In terms of engagement, Jeffrey said it was key to reach out to the youth.
“We have to speak with young people, ascertain what solutions they have devised, and then seek to agitate for change that will be of benefit to them and to the wider society. Reaching out to them, getting their ideas on how to move the country forward, and then giving them the opportunity to give back to their community can go a long way towards helping them gain a sense of self-worth while helping to make our country better.
“As a young person, I understand how important it is to feel as if someone not only wants your opinion, but values it enough to consider it. That is what I hope to be able to do for my peers who feel as if their voices do not matter.” (KG)