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Monday, February 22, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The inaugural Bollywood Singing and
Dancing Competition, hosted by the Indian
High Commission, was recently held at the
Dagaa Auditorium, UWI, St Augustine.
UWI principal Clement Sankat addressed
the gathering and spoke about the importance
of art and culture to the intellectual devel-
opment of our society.
There were 21 participants in the compe-
tition. They are Ganesham Ramsaroop,
Keshav Shankar, Karishma Dhowtal, Shalini
Leelamani Gopaul, Sindra Samoon, Stephon
Jaikaran, Shellina Juliana Mohammed, Surya
Khudan and Tricia Bissoo, Durga Sangam
Dance Group, Sophia Mustapha, Naomi Paul,
Anjely Rajkumar, Vinati Maharaj, Vandhana
Bhim, Selvyn Kennedy, Satyavanni Boodoo,
Raffie Hosein, Parbatia Arts Dance, Shiv Kala
Kendra, Ambikah Bhim and Arianna
Over $30,000 in cash prizes were given
to the winners in the singing and dancing
Safe spaces are important for everyone. They
are places people can go to and be themselves,
without fear of shaming or reprisal. For many
Trinidadians and Tobagonians, this can be a bar,
or a church, or a community centre, etc.
For some members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community in
T&T, such a safe space has been Caiso House,
located in Belmont, Port-of-Spain, and run by
NGO Caiso (T&T s Coalition Advocating for Inclu-
sion of Sexual Orientation).
Caiso member Krystal Ghisyawan says the build-
ing represents a hub for the community, as various
LGBTI organisations use it for different purposes.
These include both group and individual counselling
sessions, for the psychological care that s lacking
in the public health system, as well as group meet-
ings, which help to build the community, and fund-
"Without the space, we wouldn t be able to bring
people together in the same way, so we see it as
an important fixture for getting people together
and having a safe space. The building is important
essentially because it allows people who don t have
community to be able to find community. The
biggest issue a lot of LGBTI people face is a lack
of support and what the space facilitates is creating
a community where that support can be found.
That s essential for many adults and just for feeling
good about yourself and feeling good as a group."
Ghisyawan said the group is also working on cre-
ating safe spaces elsewhere, including South
However, the Belmont space comes at a cost of
TT$7,000 a month, and the NGO has fallen behind
on its rent. Ghisyawan said Caiso normally receives
international funding for the rent so that services
can be run out of the space, but this and other
funding channels have dried up for the time being.
She said groups such as Friends for Life, I Am
One T&T, Women s Caucus of T&T and others
have joined with Caiso to work together to keep
the space and use it as a hub for the community.
Various fund-raising events have been held and
continue to be held towards this effort, which aims
to raise US$10,000 to cover arrears and future pay-
"We re looking into different things like throwing
a fete, parties, movie and games night, things which
are a little more consistent but also smaller, so dif-
ferent size events, again towards community build-
ing, different activities that might appeal to different
crowds. We want to make the NGO itself sustainable
by creating these things that we could repeat, along
with the help of the other organisations."
In addition to fund-raising locally, the group has
been crowd funding through an online fund-raising
As of February 19, the campaign had raised
US$5,535 of its US$10,000 goal. It runs until the
end of February.
Indian High Commission
hosts Bollywood singing
and dancing competition
Ambikah Bhim, a dance category
winner in the Bollywood talent
Karishma Dhowtal, left, placed second in the
singing category with winner Stephon Jaikaran.
Interested people can go to www.youcaring.com
and search for Save Caiso's House. T&T
residents can also donate locally by making a
branch deposit or online transfer to either of
Caiso's TT-dollar accounts: Republic Bank:
180800595001 (should accept online transfers
and deposits at any branch) or Unit Trust:
5603696-2 (online transfers may require first
requesting to link accounts for transfers).
For further information, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook
page at https://www.facebook.com/caiso.
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