Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 17th 2014 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, April 17, 2014
Alta stands as an example of
what women working together
can achieve, despite the odds
being stacked against them.
As a female-inspired and run
organisation, Alta aims to be
strong and independent, but to
act from the heart. Have we been
able to achieve these goals over
the years? Let s look at Alta, the
NGO, as a working woman.
At Alta, some 300 volunteer
tutors turn up twice a week, vir-
tually every week for an aca-
demic year, with a core of tutors
staying for five or more years.
Two current tutors have served
Alta for 20 years and counting.
Both are female. What does this
tell us? Women accept that work
does not have to be paid to be
valuable and valued.
A key motivator for women is
their children. Many students
have said to me, "My life was
hard. I always feel left out---
everybody else can read the
words all around. I don t want
my children to be like me. So I
have to learn to read and write
to help them." It is interesting
that more men are coming to
Alta saying this as well.
Alta s alertness to needs and
responsiveness to them are what
have made us strong, but equally
important has been choosing the
needs to respond to. Over the
years, we have heard,
"Alta should do classes for
"Why you all don t do maths?
or "What about having CXC
The short answer is this: check
the first two words in the name
of the organisation: adult literacy.
As an NGO with very limited
resources, it is vital to maintain
focus and this too makes Alta
Acclaimed educator Richard
Gerver recently came to Trinidad
and in speaking about effecting
change in education he said,
"The vision must be powerful
enough to engage others."
This is Alta s true source of
strength: the high quality, com-
mitted people who have come
as volunteer tutors...and stayed.
Alta is strong because we
respond to needs, we stay
focused and we work together.
So Alta is strong, but are we
independent? While Alta is inde-
pendent in developing our pro-
gramme, full independence is
impossible when your clients
don t pay for their instruction.
Alta has eked out a degree of
independence by paying no
But that F word---funding---is
the real obstacle to independ-
ence. Donors think like men and
NGOs think like women. Donors
look for the exciting, the glam-
ourous, something new they
haven t tried yet---even if it is
risky and may turn out to be all
packaging and little substance.
On the other hand, NGOs are
looking to settle down with reli-
able, loyal partners so they can
build something sustainable for
the long term. If a donor gives
Alta this year, that s Alta done,
who s next? They need to share
it around. Man talk. To consider
Alta again, you have to give them
something new---not the same
old, the tried and tested.
You have to re-create yourself
just for them...and then they
want ownership. But like Trini
women, NGOs know that hand-
ing over ownership is tricky,
especially when your partner has
given no commitment, so NGOs
do have to opt for multiple part-
So while Alta is strong, we
cannot be fully independent. But
reliable, long-term partners can
make all the difference to us, to
NGOs generally and to the soci-
Next week: Does Alta have
The NGO as
a working woman
More than 60 children celebrated
the completion of an intensive, year-
long participation in the Youth
Entrepreneurship for Self Empow-
erment (YES) programme at a grad-
uation ceremony at the Cruise Ship
Complex, Port-of-Spain, on April
6. YES was developed and executed
by the Laventille-based, non-gov-
ernmental organisation, We are Better
Youth (WABY). It targets young people
between the ages of four and 18 from
Ovid Alley and Mango Rose through
a structured entrepreneurship devel-
RBC, as part of its continued com-
mitment to the development of youth
in T&T and through its corporate
social responsibility programme, gave
$25,000 to WABY to help facilitate
the YES initiative. A release from the
bank said this donation reinforces the
bank s commitment to sustainable
investment, and represents one of
the ways in which RBC partners with
the NGO sector to develop and
empower children, strengthen fam-
ilies, and enrich communities.
Speaking at the YES graduation
ceremony Suresh Sookoo, CEO,
Caribbean Banking, RBC, congratu-
lated the students and the members
of the WABY team for their successful
completion of the pilot programme.
Sookoo said, "Evidence has shown
that investing in child rights is both
a responsibility and an opportunity.
It is a responsibility because poverty,
abuse, child labour and other depri-
vations undermine children s abilities
to develop to their full potential."
RBC supports youth
Become a part of Alta.
Volunteer, donate, spread the
word. Alta volunteers are
unpaid. Call 624-ALTA (2582)
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or
find us on Facebook: ALTA
We are Better Youth (WABY) Graduating class pose for a photo at the Port
Authority Cruise Ship Complex, Port-of-Spain on April 6.
PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
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