Soca king Machel Montano yesterday returned to his Alma Mater, Siparia Boys’ RC School, taking 65 tablets for disadvantaged students.
It was the first time that Montano had visited the school in over 20 years. It was while there he had won the Junior Calypso Monarch in 1985 with the song Too Young to Soca, the catalyst for his rise to stardom.
Prancing on the hopscotch boxes in the courtyard, Montano said he was amazed that the school had remained exactly as he remembered it from his childhood years. He walked into his favourite classroom and even sat down on the wobbly desk singing his junior calypso hit.
Accompanied by his mother Elizabeth, Montano said he felt it was important to give back to the school which had shaped his life.
“Today we are coming together to answer the call of the Education Minister, who asked corporate citizens to help out students in need with tablets and laptops to facilitate this COVID-19 challenge of homeschooling and online schooling,” Montano said.
He explained that the Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness decided to contribute to four schools which had played a special part in his life.
“Apart from assisting Siparia Boys’ RC, we also assisted the Macaulay Government Primary School, the Carenage Girls’ Primary School, Carenage is where I was born and the Toco Secondary School, because Toco is where I now live,” Montano said.
Saying it was important for children to not get lost with their education, Montano said citizens must work together to help everyone.
“We must meet technology and combat this challenge. It takes a village to raise a child. The community on a wide scale must chip in and give the students the assistance, fixtures and devices they deserve,” he said.
He added that despite the period of COVID-19, there was an opportunity to grow.
“T&T is a nation rooted in culture just as much as it is rooted in oil. It takes moments like this to notice what Carnival is, what is Eid, Divali, chutney, soca, pan to the balance of our country,” he added.
Admitting that many entertainers were feeling the pinch of a loss of income, Montano said he was certain that the entertainment industry will continue to flourish.
“Within our entertainment spaces, we are helping each other financially and emotionally. We are creating farming and by-products for each other. This is the inspiration for each other. As things progress, there is a lot of collaboration. Artists need a place to set up studios, it is kind of a barter system now where we help each other,” Montano said.
He said although many believed that Carnival 2021 was off, this was not the case.
“Carnival as we know it might be off but the Carnival we never dreamed of will be on. There are ways to utilise a virtual space, online with COVID protocols in mind,” he said.
Montano added that the T&T people were resilient and they will not allow COVID-19 to take away their livelihood.
“They will find ways to cope. This is a time when we have to embrace technology and keep the safety of humans in mind. That could only bring prosperity to us, so 2020 will be the catalyst of exporting culture on a mass scale,” he said.
Blue Waters brand manager Nicolas Bengochea, who was also on hand, agreed that necessity was the mother of invention.
“This has given us an opportunity to work together and we see the investment in students as important, so assisting with sharing technology is something we are more than happy to do,” Bengochea said.
Unicomer (Trinidad) Limited’s Clive Fletcher also pledged support and said they will continue assisting students in need across the country.