RADHICA DE SILVA
Entertainer and ventriloquist Nigel Salickram is out of work and has no income but he is using his talents to help young children cope with online learning.
Using his side-kick puppet Cheekoo, Salickram has been able to raise funds to purchase eight tablets for underprivileged children.
The show called Cheekoo Time airs every Sunday on Facebook from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm. During the segment, the children are taught proper hygiene, proper eating habits and survival skills.
Speaking exclusively to Guardian Media, Salickram said he was worried about the many children who are not getting their education because they had no internet or devices. Staying T&T had just over $1.3 million people, Salickram called on the government to provide free internet accessibility in all areas across the country.
“If we do this, some children might still; be able to use a phone if they get internet connectivity,” Salickram said.
He added that there was no reason why corporate T&T and the government could not achieve universal connectivity for all children.
“If children are given a device, they will be happy to study,” he added.
His daughter Anastasia Salickram who chaired the show along with him and Cheekoo said she was proud of the progress of the show. Saying they already had over 30,000 followers, Anastasia said she was blown away by the love and support shown to Cheekoo. She recalled that he had won the Mastana Bahar competition in 1991.
Now that children were suffering from the pains of online learning, Anastasia said Cheekoo was helping them to have some fun even as he educated them on the necessity for proper hygiene during this COVID-19 period.
She said the children were also being taught proper eating habits and survival skills including CPR.
Anastasia said they were pleased to provide tablets to underprivileged children to assist them with online learning. So far, eight tablets have been distributed and more will be given away during every episode of the show.
One recipient Sherryann Jones said her son a Form Six pupil was having difficulty in uploading work using her phone.
She expressed thanks for the tablet saying it will go a long way in helping him to study well.
Another recipient Rosina Mohammed thanked Salickram and his charity Show Your Love. She said because of his intervention, many children were smiling because they were no longer being deprived of their education.
Anyone wanting to assist with the project can call Indira at 749-9493 or Anastasia at 479- 6941.