Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2017 Contents B8 life
guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 8, 2017
If Raymond Ockille had not gone
to churchwhile limingwith friends,
his life may have turned out very
differently. This Sea Lots boy used
fighting as a survival tool. But he
changed direction to become a pas-
tor and national youth director for
the Open Bible Standard Churches
of TT. To hear him tell his story of
turning his life around can leave
you in awe.And he's donejust that
in his new book about his journey,
called Rag To Rose, to be launched
this Saturday at the Government
Plaza Auditorium, Port-of-Spain.
"When I share my story, people look
at me and ask---You?" Ockille said.
Perhaps it is hard to envision him as a
one-time hardened fighting man when
you listen to the present-day rumbling
of his laughter or the calmness of his
He shared his story to give a lesson of
hope to those who may have followed
a similar path---with the message that
there is a way out of negative lifestyles.
While society may have viewed Ock-
ille back then as a ne'er-do-well---a
"piece of rag"---Ockille said he realised
that within himself there was space to
grow. He described his experiences in
his book Rag to Rose to illustrate how
possible it is to shift one's mindset and
deal with challenges.
He said the "rag" mentality goes be-
yond thug life; it is a negative perception
often based on assumption, an una-
wareness of what is really happening.
"This book is not only for Christians,
but for everyone. It helps people to nav-
igate around fear, around anger. There
are adults who have been affected as
youths; now, what can they give?" he
Recalling his own childhood, Ockille
said at age 10, his grandfather put him
out of the family home in Biche.
He moved from country life to the
toughness of Port-of-Spain, living in
Sea Lots with his mother.
"They used to call me Headly because
my head was big for my body, and Don-
key Eye because my eyes were big. They
used to say I had friendly knees because
they were touching each other. I was not
a physically robust person, not fitting
the script of an athlete," he said.
"I knew what it was like to live in
Sea Lots. It was mangrove. Gravel was
used for pathways and my house was
over water. You had to fend for your-
self, although there were relatives. I was
bitter and angry, but always did things
He suffered migraines because he
suppressed his emotions.
His empowerment came after he was
involved in a fight and won. His attitude
thereafter was that he was untoucha-
ble---his new attitude was to "take in
front before front took him."
"It's all about choices," he said.
Like his friends, Ockille carried a
concealed weapon. Then one day,
they passed by a crusade and one of
his friends jokingly asked if he could
"Yes," Ockille replied.
By then he was already contemplat-
ing the quality of his life, as one of his
rivals had told him his choice was either
death or prison, should they face each
At the crusade, hosted by Rev Des-
mond Austin, Ockille took the micro-
phone to testify. "The Saturday follow-
ing that, I saw the beauty of life, I felt a
responsibility," he said.
A drop-out at Form Five, he then re-
turned to school, this time at YTEPP, to
improve his skills. He today has under
his belt a certificate in tailoring from
John Donaldson Technical Institute.
He also attended Bible School where
he said he learnt to dispose of false pride.
"The challenge is to unlearn, and to re-
learn," he said.
Now this pastor for the Sea Lots
area coordinates national youth ac-
tivities that target empowerment and
When he is not interacting in his
capacity of youth director, he visits
secondary schools or can be heard on
Radio Isaac on Thursdays, Fridays and
Despite his already heavy schedule,
he wants to add another project that
is related to male development. "Men
need to have more conversations," he
said. "The internal conflicts, the issues,
cause hindrance---and they need to
know how to resolve it."
Again, he was speaking from ex-
perience. Although he celebrates his
transition to a spiritual place,he needed
counselling to manage his past.
"To maintain the freshness of a rose,
it needs sun,it needs water---Not a one-
off," he said.
The rose mentality, he said, allows
the inner beauty to blossom, despite
failures and disappointments.
Rag to Rose book launch: June 10
Venue: Government Plaza Auditorium,
48-58 Edwards Street, Port-of-Spain
Price: $250 (includes book, t-shirt and
From rags to roses
One man tells his story of great personal change
Raymond Ockille launches his book on June 10.
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