The Cotton Tree Foundation’s 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament Opening Ceremony – May 27, 2015

His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT. SC. President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago addresses the Cotton Tree Foundation’s 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament Opening Ceremony at St Andrew’s Golf Club, Moka, Maraval – May 27, 2015.

The following is the content of His Excellency’s address:

As Patron of the Cotton Tree Foundation, I am happy to be here this morning as part of the opening ceremony and tee off. As a former Criminal Judge, I can identify with the aims of the Cotton Tree Foundation’s founders, the deceased Mr. Desmond Allum S.C and Justice Ulric Cross, mentors and dear colleagues when they embarked on the journey to rescue the young and vulnerable in our society. Crime and violence has robbed our blessed Republic of an immeasurable amount of potential as the lives of our young men and women have been snuffed out and others lured down the dark paths of dependency and social depravity. It was more than a rescue mission for Desi and Ulric. It was a journey to empowerment and real social transformation.

Too often, we as a people are quick to cast blame and highlight the problems but we are always reluctant to be a part of the solution. The work of the Foundation is a shining proactive example of the path we should endeavour to follow in terms of our modern concepts of individual and corporate social responsibility. Indeed our children are our most valuable human resource and as such it is admirable to see that the focus is on them. Early Childhood Care and Education Centres, Homework Assistance Programmes and Vacation Camps form a critical part of shaping the lives of our young people. As I have previously stated, we cannot wait until our children are in secondary school to try to instil a sense of morality, ethics and values, we must begin in the preschools and primary schools and the Foundation must be commended for creating an environment that fosters sustainable human growth and development.

The Foundation must also be commended for recognition of the need for the further development of our young adults, many of whom are caught in a spiral of hopelessness and dependency created by both a lack of opportunity and self-actualization. I highly anticipate the day when we can see other organizations and communities initiating similar community improvement programmes like the “Math on the PC” programme or the discipline of dance and computer literacy programmes.

In our society, the work of volunteers often goes unnoticed. We sometimes suffer volunteerism on the altar of indifference and apathy because essential support systems are often not in place. The tireless hours and personal sacrifice are often taken for granted by those who could care less about the condition of others. And it has to do with the growing philosophy of selfishness in our society. Our philosophy must be more than just “My, Myself and I”. This cannot and must not be our philosophy. And the Foundations’ philosophy of humanity is one of action rather than talk. In this regard, volunteerism does not begin when you leave office, and unstinting, selfless service to your fellow man and woman must be made the mantra in the lives of our young people if we are to bring this society back to where it once was. Further, as we work on our young children in the Childhood care and education centres, the home work assistance programmes and vacation camps, we must not unwittingly support parental irresponsibility. We must engage the parents of those children under our charge with what I will call “Man in the Mirror” parental responsibility. We cannot and must not create a sense of ambition in the children under our stewardship without addressing the lack of ambition among the adults at home. If we are to be effective in social transformational change.

As part of your drive to keep this philosophy of humanity alive, this Charity Golf Tournament has my unwavering support and I hope that it continues to draw more and more persons from all areas of our society, who even though they may be unable to participate in the tournament itself, will be able to lend some measure of assistance in any of the other hundreds of possible ways. And when I speak of tangible ways, I speak of ‘paisa’.

I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate the many persons who would have taken part in the Tournament over the years and I look forward to seeing many familiar faces who have come to give of their time and finances to assist the less fortunate. Also I want to wish the best of luck to all players because I am made to understand that the Hole-in-one prize for this year is particularly outstanding. I am not in the business of advertisement and I call a spade a spade, and I have to give just due to Lifestyle Motors. The Company has raised the bar, demonstrating international best practices by donating an expensive car for a Hole-in-one at the fifth hole. This happens in PGA Tournaments, and I do hope that the Company continues this initiative next year and in years to come. It demonstrates Corporate Social Responsibility at work in real terms.

It now gives me great pleasure to declare the Cotton Tree Foundation’s 13th Annual Charity Golf Tournament officially open.