Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 8th 2016 Contents various gangs in East Port-of-Spain to join the battle
against criminal activity.
The role of those identified is specifically to bring
information to the residents in the community about
criminal activity and also the more dangerous role
of violence interrupters.
They have also been able to create suitable employ-
ment and other opportunities for them.
In addition, Project Reason has rehabilitated at
least 30 former gang members in the last six months
and they now lead a crime-free life. But they admit
that they have a long way to go. They are hoping to
double the amount of people changing their lives.
Hard to develop trust in the community
The Project Reason team allowed us to take part
in one of their walks within East Port-of-Spain, led
by their supervisor Derek "Strongy" Samuel.
Samuel is from the Nelson Street community and
is known by many as a community activist. He and
the other members were dressed in jeans and the
light blue Project Reason jersey with ID tags.
He said although he is from the area, "it was hard
for us to develop the trust since our jersey was labelled
Ministry of National Security. They thought we were
informers but that
soon changed as they
realised that we are in
no way affiliated with
the police, but here to
help and curb the vio-
He said "our role is
to talk to the youths,
mentor them, help
those who want to
walk away from a life
of gang activity and
crime, we are that out-
let, and they show
more respect since
some of us lived the same lives they are living."
But it has not been an easy task. Samuel said the
struggle was real. "When something happens, say
in Picton, I have to make calls to see what happened
and to try to stop any planned retaliation. Is all hours
we are up. It takes the simplest things for a violent
outburst to happen. That s how we operate as the
As Samuel spoke at the Nelson Street Planning,
many of the young men in the area shared their con-
cerns. Many of them lamented that they feel ignored
and complained about a lack of jobs.
They did not want to be identified by name and
refused to be photographed, but were quite vocal
about their concerns.
One young man said: "We need the stigmatisation
but because of my address I am a victim, it s hard
to go out there the same way as well since you are
killed by warring faction because of where you live."
The man in his early 20s, added: "I want to see
more opportunities within the communities, this will
curb the violence, but if nobody can leave the com-
munity then it will lead to the current outcome."
Project Reason programme coordinator, Marlon
Anatol told the GML Enterprise Desk the focus of
Project Reason was to change the way the community
thinks, it is also aimed at promoting peace with the
ultimate goal of ending violence and murders.
Anatol said he has seen results. "When last have
you heard a spate of killings in East Port-of-Spain?
We are on the ground, we attempt to interrupt the
violence. We are working to win the trust of the res-
idents, we assure them we don t work along with
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 8, 2016
From Page A27
"Our role is to talk to
the youths, mentor
them, help those who
want to walk away
from a life of gang
activity and crime, we
are that outlet, and
they show more
respect since some of
us lived the same lives
they are living"---Derek
Continues on Page A29
Reformed criminals, community
activists walk the talk
the police." Anatol said they were doing work from
Morvant to Belmont and it s a task for his staff since
it s a limited amount of them.
He said they have been able to achieve significant
success "because our people are from the community,"
and they are targeting those who really want to change
and make a difference.
Young men in the area shared their concerns. Many of them lamented
that they feel ignored and complained about a lack of jobs. They did not
want to be identified by name and refused to be photographed, but
were quite vocal about their concerns.
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