Christmas Holiday Travel Grant for Dr Mahabir
When Covid-19 closed down in-person meetings, seminars, conferences and the like, the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC), led by Anthropologist Dr. Kumar Mahabir of Trinidad and Tobago, saw an opportunity to initiate something unique – a weekly public meeting, hosted on the ZOOM platform, providing a forum for those in the Indian Diaspora to get together and discuss a wide range of topics relevant to their lives and experiences.
To date, more than 83 meetings have been convened over the course of 19 months, with a different theme selected each week, covering topics as diverse as health conditions common in the Indian Diaspora, labour practices and human rights amongst the old and new indentureds, and how to find your ancestral family in India. Dr. Mahabir somehow finds the most qualified panelists, experts in the field of the week’s chosen topic, to provide informative and stimulating content. The ICC often partners with the Ameena Gafoor Institute (AGI), led by Professor David Dabydeen, to host these meetings.
This initiative has caught the attention of the Florida-based company, Santafe Global Inc., run by Boysie Siew, a Trinidadian businessman who has lived in the USA for more than 50 years. According to Siew, Santafe Global Inc. makes an annual award to a positive community leader for the work he or she has done in “shaping our reality and adjusting[ing] our own attitude and behaviour to promote positive change in society”.
Announcing Mahabir as the recipient of this year’s award, Siew spoke of Mahabir’s dedication and leadership, saying: “In my evaluation throughout 2021, no one can compare to your hard work, creativity and passion, and it’s no surprise that you have won this award”.
He went on to say: “You have overcome so many obstacles to achieve this WIN while your perseverance is an inspiration to everyone…. You and your team have set an amazing example for all of us throughout the world on your weekly ZOOM platform. Cheers to you, my brother, for a job well done!”
Mahabir receives an all-expenses-paid, week-long trip to Siew’s resort, The Pinnacle on Grace Bay, in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The award includes the services of a personal maid, chef and driver as well as golfing and water sports facilities with Ritz Carlton and Seven Stars to the left, and the famous Ocean Club and Grace Bay Club to the right. Mahabir will take up the offer when the surge in Covid rates subsides. In his acceptance response, Mahabir said: “Thank you Mr Boysie Siew of Santafe Global Inc. May the Good Lord shower you and your loved ones with good health and more blessings. I am indeed humbled by this Christmas gift.
“I wish to also thank to all those who have contributed towards this weekly ZOOM program, without whom it would not be a success. Thanks also to the audience from all parts of the world for your regular attendance, appreciation and support. The production of this weekly Sunday program is a labour of love, devotion, dedication and self-discipline. It has to be done. It must be done, because it fills a gap in discourses that often marginalize, erase or exclude Indian identity in the Diaspora, particularly in the Caribbean, despite the fact that Indians form the largest ethnic minority in the English-speaking region.”
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