Harriet Cross

EMPOWER MIGRANTS: British High Commissioner Harriet Cross.

MIGRANTS from Cuba, Cameroon, Mexico and Venezuela participated in a month-long Leadership and Advocacy Pilot (LAP) programme which provided training to empower them to be leaders in their communities.

The training was delivered by Living Water Community between May 4 and June 4, 2022 and was funded by the British High Commission in Port of Spain, the High Commission said in a news release on Friday.

The goal of the programme was to empower migrants and refugees to actively participate in decisions which affect their lives, including efforts of integration, and opportunities to lead their own humanitarian response.

A diverse group of participants, including men, women, members of the LGBTI community, people with disabilities, youth and citizens with dual nationality who lived in Venezuela most of their lives, attended two high-impact face-to-face sessions and 11 online sessions.

The training focused on self-awareness, empathy, resilience, leadership, supportive communication, community mobilisation, storytelling for change, adaptive leadership, strategy and avocacy and participated in individual and group psychotherapeutic techniques to help with, understanding and facing life’s challenges.

Expected outcomes of the project include migrants and asylum-seekers participating in efforts for their own advocacy, mobilising their communities for change and finding solutions to promote social cohesion and peaceful community relations.

British High Commissioner Harriet Cross said: “This training is about equipping people with the tools they need to develop themselves and their communities and contribute positively to Trinidad and Tobago. Migrants and asylum-seekers face a myriad of challenges after leaving their homes and the British High Commission is proud to support this training which gives them the tools to empower themselves.

“I was very happy to meet participants at the end of the training and witness their passion, learn about their resilience and listen to their plans for improving their own lives and enhancing the experiences of migrants in T&T. We are proud to support Living Water Community with UK-funding for this project, which has been a transformative experience for participants.”

Coordinator of Living Water Community’s (LWC) Ministry for Migrants and Refugees Rochelle Nakhid said: “At LWC we have recognised the great need to invest in the leadership of people with lived experience of the systems that need to be transformed, as this can enhance the quality of life of all, including locals.

“We want to empower migrants to find their voice and tell their own stories. The goal is to bring the voice of excluded groups to the attention of policy makers, the general population, and humanitarian and development actors, with them speaking directly from the heart of their represented communities.”

David Sequea, a migrant from Venezuela, described LAP as a well-structured programme that has surpassed his own expectations with respect to content on Leadership and Advocacy.

“I had many expectations and I never imagined that it would be so good.

This programme has transformed me internally because now my world perspective of what I could achieve and do for others has changed exponentially for the better,” said Sequea.

In the news release, the British High Commission said the success of this first fully bilingual phase showed the high standard of commitment and the active involvement of the participants making profound contributions without hesitation.

A second phase of the programme will address the area of protection, psychological first aid, strategies and a “Know your rights” programme.

Following the second phase that starts in July, the goal is to ensure that in the future, participants are equipped with the tools they need to support others and be enablers within the migrant and refugee community in Trinidad and Tobago, raising their voices and being an active part in solving their problems.

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