Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Trini Tuesday-Gyul, Yuh Have Real Belly


The lady on the right is Hazel Manning, first lady of Trinidad & Tobago. The primary school we worked with was having a graduation ceremony and the director had arranged for Mrs. Manning to participate. The school was a private school that made special effort to work not only with able students but also those with handicaps or disadvantages. Mr. Lime and I worked in a squatter's village and had managed to make arrangements for 4 students from the village to attend the school while we continued tutoring others at home.

Mrs. Manning gave a short address and passed out diplomas to the students. After the ceremony the school director wanted me to meet Mrs. Manning. So introductions were made, the director explains about the students from the squatter village and our work there. Now, it is important to note that while the squatters don't own the land they live on, nor do they pay any kind of rent, they've been there in peace for a very long time. Squatter villages generally spring up on land no one cares about, property that has passed down through a few generations of titled foreign owners who aren't even aware they own something or just some empty, lonely chunk of land no one has touched for decades. The government was looking to resettle the squatters from the homes they had built, with planted gardens and fruit trees, to some barren chunk of rock with barely a green thing to be seen (keep in mind this is a tropical island...lush...green....you have to WORK to find a place that isn't green). The government was also going to build permanent housing, which sounds generous and I guess it is, until you realize it was going to be block houses with concrete ceilings under metal rooves, row upon attached row. I've been in houses like that in Trinidad...here's the scenario....tropical sun beating down on the nice concrete house with little ventilation and no trees to shade anything....BONUS! You can fry your roti on the walls! People, it's UNBEARABLY hot.

Mrs. Manning shook my hand and said, 'On behalf of my husband, the Prime Minister, I'd like to ask you to deliver a message to the people of the village. Please tell them to accept our offer of relocation, in their own best interest.' I paused for a second and responded, 'Mrs. Manning, I can't do that. The people there have pride in what they've been able to build with their own two hands and while their homes are not secure, they maintaining them and they have a tight knit community there. Whatever money your husband would spend to build human ovens on a rock would be better spent improving the homes that already exist, helping folks find jobs (which is what most of them want more than they want handouts), and making sure the children can get to school. I suggest you and the Prime Minister go spend time in the village and talk to the people there.' Mrs. Manning gulped and then took on the somewhat strained expression as the camera clicked to take the picture above. She left and the school director laughed, 'Gyul, yuh have real belly talking to the PM's wife so.'

32 comments:

G-Man said...

Oh I get it now...
You have a lot of guts!

You should have retorted,
.." and you have a large back porch"!

Happy Trini Tuesday Trini! xoxox

BTW...you represented those squatters real good!

Jim said...

Good for you! Another blow against authoritarianism.

XO

RennyBA said...

Well said - brave girl - and your words so well addressed!

Never doubt you had the guts, but good to know and read about it!

Marc said...

Good morning Michelle. Aside from the fact that it is so unbearably HOT, it sounds like a nice, caring community of people. I am glad that you got to participate in that. A little piece of heaven that you will always be able to carry with you ;-)

Have a very good day!

ttfootball said...

HAHAHAHAAA!! Lime this is classic! But aahm...de first lady eh de president wife?

Jodes said...

love these posts.

steve said...

Outstanding story Lime! outstanding!

Doo Dah said...

Way to go Limer!

Cheesy said...

^5 Gyul !!!
Excellent retort!

Top cat said...

wow that did take a lot of belly.
Good for you lime!
tc

MONA said...

yes you do have the guts..but then that is what I have always seen you as,,a gutsy & loads of fun lady!Love you.
If you ever visit India, you will be baffled by our slum areas..there are whole families living in drainpipes, lying about the roadsides for years just because some govt engineer claimed to have laid them [ no pun intented!] and embezzeled and siphoned the whole funds from govt grants [ if they have already not been siphoned by the higher govt officials...the scams run in thousands]...If I get a picture of slum areas from somewhre I shall post it.

Logophile said...

Have you no decorum?
:p

Apple said...

Sometimes it takes an "outsider" to set things straight. Good for you!

snavy said...

Good for you!!!

I just love that you took a stand!

lecram sinun said...

Wanted to say that your last post just "lumped me in the throat". :)

ttfootball said...

aye Lime I forget to say: how yuh like it she is minister of education now too? You woulda probably have even more "fun" with that! hehe

DaMasta said...

Nah howya gonna build an oven fah people in da middle of da tropicah summah?!Tha' juss ain't right at all, I tells ya!

Good work strutin' ya belly like that, Limerz! ;)

lime said...

g-man, LOL @ your retort!

jim, *wink*

renny, thank you, hehe

marc, there was definitely a strong sense of community

ttfootball, i stand corrected and she now the minister of education, she would real mash up de place eh?

jodes, steve, doodah, cheesy, tc.....power to the people, hehehe

mona, that's astonishingly sad.

logo, apparently not, but hey, i didn't spit at her, give me some credit

apple, well there were insiders who saw things for what they were, but you know governemnt...

snavy, thanks

lecram, i'd really love to see your version of such a post

lime said...

damasta, lol. somehow i can see you doing the same.

Dan said...

Great story! And it totally explains the expression on her face!! :)

barefoot_mistress said...

Ah yes, I remember this story! You go, gyal! You go!

~TVS said...

That was wonderful!

Blither said...

I aspire to be so limey one day.. I do I do I do :D

BTExpress said...

Way to go girl!!! What did they do to help them?

Margie Blystone said...

Initially I thought this was going to be a story about a pregnancy in Trini... But damn if you aren't always finding a way to impress the hell out of me!

I can only hope that if I was faced with the same situation I would be as bold.

Moosekahl said...

You go girl! Reminds me of the Indian Reservation I grew up on. Government has no clue what it's really like and what they really need.

TorAa said...

You observed the most important of all: The pride. I know from my fathers family, 150 years back, they had a small piece of land, did not own it, so they paiyd by doing some "duties" to the landowner; i.e. payed their land by some days work per year. They had their pride. Did not pay "taxes" to the landlords, they survived. But the land could not be split up for the the new generations.
Forty percent emigrated to USA in 1890-1920 - from Norway.

Do we still have Polarbears here? Visit my latest post;)

lime said...

dan, it does explain doesn't it ;)

bare, tvs...thanks!

blither, aw hon, that's sweet of you to say

bte, nothing sadly

margie, ty, i am blushing

moose, i would love to hear more about your story!

toraa, that was really informative and interesting, thanks for the mini history lesson!

Bridget Jones said...

Thank heavens you do have a lot of belly, standing up for those who couldn't represent themselves.

What a thoroughly stupid idea. How common sensical and logical your idea was.

Let's hope that SHE has the belly to look into your suggestion.

Mustafa ┼×enalp said...

TRKEY/ KAYSER─░

goodthomas said...

Gew fuh yuh, Lime gyul.

Bridget Jones said...

Common sense and reality? Oh yah that had to be said.

I'm glad you got belly, lime! Long may it last!!