Discrimination is costly…to our society

In this perceived sovereign, independent twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago achievement have been defined, or expressed through accomplishments in academic studies, which would or should lead to a high paying job. This means that the individual’s success is equated to his/her success in the work place. This success is then characterized by the individual’s ability, intelligence and motivation. This is what society and persons in powerful positions wants us to believe. They refuse to attribute their success to Conditions; Norms, of this state that continues to give special advantages to some above and beyond others; (the practise of cronyism). Many Trinbagonians face seriously dangerous and persistent forms of discrimination in the social and work place environment, because of their perceived or real affiliation or differences. It is very common to hear, that here, every creed and race find an equal place, irrespective of your political, religious or gender difference. Is there not a law that prevents discrimination? Why do barriers exist to prevent the full and meaningful involvement and participation of “advocates” for the rights and equality for all?

Discrimination in the environment is a tremendously costly problem for our society; discriminatory practices that lead to the underdevelopment of our nation’s youth; like when they postulate and seek to rigorously implement personality development projects in preference to “character development” programmes. However what is even more troubling is the foundation of the facilitators of these already skewed piece-meals, very expensive projects. The character of many of the facilitators is very questionable, while they may possess personality; but have we not seen the ends to many great persons who possessed great personalities? Can our youths be influence to change their behaviours, by change agents who have no character? Character gives you integrity, personality give you skills to become a manipulator, a deceiver, a liar and a thief. Our youths and by extension our social problems cannot be addressed by inappropriate models and skewed projects. In economics terms, this means that valuable tax-payers dollars and foreign grants are being inappropriately invested. Just look at the results of these piece-meal projects (cronyism in practise) that they say are addressing challenges like crime, sexually transmitted infections (HIV), child and elder-abuse; these challenges continue to outwit these educated illiterates.

There methods of addressing these societal-challenges have only facilitated a high level of conflict among civil-society organization and less identification with the spoken goal. As these individuals continue to black-list persons and organizations of competence, they enable the self-serving, whose focus is “protecting me and mine” and perhaps unconsciously fuelling the wasting away of our most precious resource for continuity, our youth population. Can someone tell me, what is the agenda of UNAIDS Trinidad? What is the agenda of the Trinidad and Tobago government? As it relates to societal challenges like HIV, child and elder-abuse, poverty, human development and crime?

The continued proliferation of these societal-challenges highlights that competent civil-society organizations with well structured programmes are twice as likely to civil society organizations (inclusive of international and local administrates entities) to be un-contracted/unemployed. What ah paradigm!

Discrimination exist when organizations trained to do the same job for different geographic areas are dealt with differently; organizations in a specific area, having the competence are bypassed; giving preference to the practise of cronyism.  Discrimination occurs when factors other than merit prevent an individual or organization from being hired, recognized, respected or rewarded through various forms of compensation or increases the individual or organization risk of being unfairly treated. Discrimination occurs when the individual or organization is evaluated on the basis of “corridor talk” rather than competence. In T&T, this process operates as an in-group; out-group dynamic, in which members of the in-group view members of the out-group as, trouble-makers, mad-people, deficient, but most importantly they see the out-group as a threat to their own continued position- to eat ah food; what ah paradigm!

The immature, those that operate on the “Id” principle, establish a normative profile by which they judge. However their judgement of competence is equated with willingness to be manipulated, become a tokenistic representation, be available at a moments notice, questioning nothing, just towing the line. The impact is clear, square pegs in round holes. They import and also create specific kinds of projects and positions that are done only to carry out their lop-sided agendas; specifically to maintain their position and power in their underdeveloped, fixated state of being. Their wish is to continue to influence and make decisions that do not take into consideration the values, beliefs and practices of the competent, the urgent need of principles to take our nation forward.

There is an urgent need for the examination of the way civil society is engaged; practices that create hostility, disrespect and segregation among civil society must be eradicated. We need to look at the consequences of this flawed practise in our society. Discrimination is one expression of societal stagnation. It is a defence mechanism of those immature, fixated leaders in positions of power who try to protect their status and profits by preventing less powerful individuals and organizations from gaining a foothold, and they employ all manner of deceit and deceptions to maintain their stronghold. Rather than treating competence and diversity as factors to improve, enhance the social-functioning and well-being of our citizens, discrimination facilitates its reduction, hence, the present state of our country.

Discrimination, over time has become a great cost, a financial burden to our nation. Discrimination in the delivery of social programmes is associated with lower life satisfaction. For example our youths have learnt to move from one social program to the next, just for the stipend, to survive. However this makes the majority chronically unemployed or underemployed, resulting in the loss of human capital; further there are health problems, HIV, drugs, depression and anxiety. Evidence clearly shows that this expenditure is both exhausting and deeply frustrating.

In concluding, recognizing the focus is on youth development, note this; youth who believes that adult members of this nation are thriving in an environment that respects and value their contributions are more likely to commit to programmes that seeks to enhance their social-functioning and well-being.


Anderson Figaro

Change Agent-postulating Choice, Not Chance, Determines Destiny-a sustainable behavior change programme.

Advisory Council T&T.

1st quarter report (Oct.1st to Dec. 31, 2011)

#of persons reached : approximately 500


  • 10th anniversary dinner and graduation (VON-OC)
  • Graduation of 6 VON-OC members at Hyatt- a collaborative with the Ministry of Health (Rapid Testers and Peer-Educators/Counselors)
  • Health workshop on gender issues-Mt. Hope
  • Evening to Re-connect with CSN/CTTRD
  •  Meeting with the MP for Couva South-R. Indarsingh
  •  Attended the HIV conference in the Bahamas
  • World AIDS day 2011 observance in collaboration with the Community Renewal Unit of Flaming Word Ministry (FBO)
  • Attended the consultation at Mc Bean Couva Re- establishing a “Civil Society Board”…out of the PM office
  • Installed our NGO House sign-board
  • Our Christmas Observance and “initiating our book/reading club”

VON-OC Vision Statement

The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club aims to be a “comprehensive catalyst”, stimulating, facilitating; influencing “norms”, “values”, “morals” and “ethical” standards for capacity development and service delivery to persons and communities challenged by strife, diseases, drugs and poverty.

Mission Statement

The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club will provide essential:

  • Psychosocial Support Services
  • Capability (educational) developmental services
  • Advocacy

Foundational beliefs

  • We believe that all human lives are precious and valuable.
  •  That principles are the foundation for lasting effective impact, and that they are universal and timeless.
  •  That leadership is a choice
  •  To effectively address social issues, genuine networking/collaboration among individuals/organizations is necessary.
  •  To serve humanity is not about your personal feeling (at any given time) but a conscious choice.

Our Core Values

  • Commitment to principles
  • Commitment to personal enhancement (to serve)
  • Commitment to satisfactory customer/client impact/development
  •  Respect
  •  Advocacy
  •  Profitable growth

Our aims

To effectively and efficiently manage/operate our “Reformation and Transformation Centre” as:

  •  The NGO house (training and sensitization…)
  •  National advocacy platform
  •  A psychosocial support and Respite (future) sanctuary

Our role as an NGO in T & T

  •  Educate, train/mentor, build the capability of individuals, organizations and communities challenged by strife, diseases, drugs and poverty.
  •  Promote principles of confidentiality and consent
  •  Stimulate and facilitate critical thinking among our youth, NGO…not limited too…
  •  Promote greater and more meaningful awareness and participation among our population towards social issues.
  •  Promote actions/projects informed by empirical data.

Comparative advantage          

  •  Capability to train/mentor, educate individuals and organizations
  •  Capability to provide quality psychosocial support services
  •  Our own facility
  •  Empowered, empathetic, committed, passionate and guided by a vision.

Program Name

Choice, Not Chance, Determines Destiny

Program Focus

To build morally applaudable  character and capability in individuals, organizations and communities to achieve realistic and sustainable goals/results.

Goal 1:

Become more visible and the preferred psychosocial, advocacy and capability development institution.

Goal 2

Improve the knowledge, for prevention and coping skills of individuals and families challenged by:

  •  Strife
  •  Diseases, including drug addiction
  •  Poverty

Goal 3

  •  Improve the ways of working among and between the NGO community.

2012 projects

  •  Capacity Building workshop
  •  Camp Blossom
  •  Internationally recognized HIV/AIDS specific projects
  •  Hold Fundraising dinner for our 11th anniversary (Saturday 29th September 2012)


For further information, please contact 868-679-6747 or send e-mail to von_oc@yahoo.com

Is Carnival Time Again: a rare moment when we truly become one


I have decided to pen this article with the full understanding of the Carnival period and the varying cultures of the people of this land. It is hoped that it will stimulate your awareness about the very possible consequences of hosting the “World’s biggest street party”

During this extremely euphoric and erotic period in the life of Trinidad and Tobago, shattering mistakes are very likely to occur. This is a period when we hardly recognize race, ethnicity or social class; a rare moment when we truly become one. Perhaps this seeming unity may be due to the illusory state that we just might be in, taken there either by the music, emotion-changing substances or both.

Trinidad Carnival is the greatest street festival in the world and for the citizens of this twin-island state, a time of tremendous risk-taking. Citizens of the globe gather here, bringing with them their unique culture even as they prepare to enjoy ours. This is a highly-charged, very liberated period, where we tolerate and rationalize unusual behaviours. We fully exercise our rights to indulge in actions and activities that have proven over the years, to produce predominantly negative consequences. Yet we persist in doing this over and over, prompting the question: Are we too smart for our own good or are we simply mad about partying?

What are some of the very possible life-shattering mistakes that could occur especially to vulnerable youth, as they “free up” with unscrupulous characters who will exploit the unsuspecting. They could be drugged, sexually assaulted or even killed. They could contract incurable diseases like HIV, the most misunderstood sexually transmitted infection globally.

Is it so smart to drink until we are out of control-a risk to ourselves and to others? After all, it is the body’s physical and emotional response to the substance taken, knowingly or unknowingly which brings about regret.

We speak about Carnival babies, stabbing, and sexual assaults, loss of self-respect, sexually transmitted infections as if we did not know that when we indulge in this frenzy, these will be the possible negative consequences. Perhaps most frightening of all is the misconception held by so many, that because there is medication available for the treatment of HIV, they can be carefree. Are we as smart as we hope or simply more mad than we understand?

We have seen the negative consequences of the casual use and abuse of substances such as; tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and crack-cocaine on the user, the family member, the community and the national economy. Casual acts of excessive sexual self-indulgence have proven to be a major cause of the continued scourge of sexually transmitted infections. The unwise use and abuse of stimulants, knowingly or unknowingly have placed a heavy burden on the individual, on families, communities and the nation at large.

I truly empathise with the innocent, specifically the child born to a woman who perhaps did not know her status or that of her partner, as she/he engaged in the sexual act in the heat of the moment.

This Carnival, as you innocently “free-up”, know that there are unscrupulous characters that will exploit your vulnerability and leave you in physical, economic and psychological pain. Know for a fact that the casual and high-risk indulgences that you continue to rationalize and justify irrespective of the proof of their consequences have cast almost in stone, the negative consequences brought on by your attitude and behaviour. The tremendous financial cost and emotional pain brought on by STIs and the abuse of mind-altering-substances are consequences which are avoidable. Stop! Think before you act and ask yourself, am I being smart, safe, stupid or mad?

I pray that at this very moment you have been moved to take the necessary precautions-your life is worth it.

Anderson Figaro.

Visionary, Director, Educator and Advocate of

The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club.


Community Spirit Awarded to Antoinette Glasgow-Figaro

Our very own Antoinette Glasgow was one of the 54 RBC and RBTT employees to receive the Community Spirit Awards in 2010. The awards honours employees of the RBTT Financial Group that give their time to help improve their communities.

As part of the award prize, RBC will donate CAD$1,000 to the Voice Of One – Overcomers Club, in recognition of the volunteer work done by Antoinette to help the charity with it’s efforts in capacity building among young people.

More information about other who received awards can be found at the RBTT website



Are we smart, safe, stupid

Thirty years experience of HIV and I am hearing and reading the same old insincere language; the same old clichés by the same old top down approach method, sprinkled with the very few HIV positive tokens.  Are we smart, safe stupid or what?
For thirty years the population has been hearing about the modes of transmission, the vulnerability factors that fuel the continued spread of HIV and for thirty years the majority of the population is still not taking into consideration the consequences of risky sexual behavior. Many still indulge in overdoing things that bring or give temporary pleasure, but result in a life time of physical and or psychological suffering.  Just imagine for the past four or five years, according to the Ministry of Health, in Trinidad, we are reporting 4 new cases every day; are we smart, safe, stupid or what?.
Thirty years and I have not seen a change in attitude in those who sits in seats of influence. They still avoid persons, projects and programs that would really bring about sustainable behavior change. They are still excising nepotism and manipulation and placing square pegs into round holes; are we smart, safe, stupid or what? For thirty years they have refused to implement laws for the greater good of all, the infected and the non-infected. Instead they are postulating a lopsided response that encourages risky behavior covered by the “human rights” principle. Are we smart, safe, stupid or what?
For thirty years, tokenism has prevailed. My colleagues in the HIV sector are still behaving like undisciplined little children, caught up in the better than syndrome. When they attend conferences, or meetings, there is no meaningful impact.  The opportunities are not intelligently used; there is no advocacy, even more importantly – no activism. Further, there is no collective platform to influence policies and programs that would ensure a better social environment. Are we smart, safe, stupid or what?
When will this ignorance and stupidity end? When will there be a demand for accountability of precious resources just being used to host training programs that never utilized the persons trained, meaningfully. When will we experience true inclusion and dialogue aimed at creating and sustaining a better social environment?
Anderson Figaro.

Counselor, Motivational Educator , Advocate desirous to helping YOU Overcome

Profile of Anderson Figaro: Anderson is the founder and visionary of “The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club” and its programme: Choice, Not Chance, Determines Destiny. The main components of this program are as follows:


    1. Understanding and Reducing Vulnerability.


    1. Verbal, Visual and Dramatic Expression Forum.


    1. Camp Blossom.


  1. Positive Living.


Anderson is also the creator, writer and Director of the following:


    1. Dialogue…together we are the solution, a News letter.


    1. Understand this, an epic drama of the impact of HIV.


    1. Consequences of, a dramatic piece about choices, perceptions, attitudes and behaviour.


    1. Pandoras Box, about misinformation, misinformed opinions, stigma and discrimination.


    1. What make you feel you better than me, a poem addressing the :better than syndrome”.


    1. Who doh hear, go feel, about the consequences of adhering to negative influences.


  1. VON-OC Sexually Transmitte Infections booklet


He has also written numerous inspirational essays…continues to write.


Has conceptualized and implemented:


    1. Community Action Groups


    1. Community Agents for Transformation


    1. Ambassadors


    1. Central Networking Of Non-governmental Organization and an


    1. Advocacy Platform


  1. all of the above is aimed towards the actualization of the vision.


Andersons’ foundation is in the social sciences (psychology,sociology,social work,client centered counselling) strengthened by Faith Ministry studies, on a continuum, which means he is a practitioner of the Christian way of life. Mr. Figaro is highly motivated, committed and driven by the compassion he feels for the vulnerable, oppressed (especially those caught up in the state of false class consciousness)and afflicted members of society. His goal is to stimulate and facilitate the recreation of those challenged by drugs, sexually transmitted infections, greed and low-self-esteem, and to transform the way civil society organizations operate.


Anderson is constantly up-dating, building his capacity to serve the vulnerable,oppressed and afflicted.He has over a decade of practical and theoretical experience in facilitating bahaviour change programes successfully. He has created and facilitated motivational educational seminar, capacity building work-shops and an advocacy platform. His work has been highlighted on various television stations, radio stations and news papers,has made numerous appearances and interviews on television, radio and news-paper. Anderson is the recipient of the community service award, from the ministry of Community Development (2005)and many other awards from various entities in recognition of his excellent work as an advocate, preventative, motivational educator, counsellor and psychosocial support service provider. The most recent award came from the Miracle Ministries, Institute of Ministry and Tertiary Education, (2011). Have worked in collaboration with various government agencies such as:Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Development,Ministry of community development,Ministry of Sport and youth Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of national Securities,Ministry of Labour; coordinated and hosted the national AIDS Candlelight Memorial (2008) in which Ms. World Zi Lin Zang was the feature speaker, coordinated the first (National)community knowledge fair for World AIDS day 2009,(this even is now being implemented by the ministry of the people and social development, HIV/AIDS coordinating Unit) in collaboration with seven government ministries and the national AIDS coordinating Committee. He is also ably managing the afairs of ‘The Voice Of One-Overcomers Club”, which includes the facilitating of its programme and the managing of its “reformation and transformation centre”


For more information and contractual arrangements for his services or that of the centre, please feeel free to contact him at 868-679-6747 or email:von_oc@yahoo.com.

Emerging New Leaders (10th Anniversary Function)

The Voice Of One – Overcomers Club celebrated 10 years of communty service on October 1, 2011.  The number 10 is significant as it represents the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new series of numbers.

The numerical system consists of many tens, of which, The Voice Of One – Overcomers Club has completed an impacting one.  Come learn about us, initiate, partner or strengthen your commitment with us.  We’ll love to have you.

Many thanks to Dr. Rev. Winston Cuffie for allowing us use of the Miracle Ministries Pentecostal High School Auditorium.  Antoinette Glasgow-Figaro, Administrative Secretary (See gallery for more photos)

2004 Programme Participant – About My Experience

Delivered at 10th Anniversary Function held on October 1, 2011

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentleman.

It is with great pleasure that I join THE VOICE OF ONE OVERCOMERS
CLUB to celebrate their ten year anniversary.

I can recall, it was a sunny Saturday morning in 2004 when I first
walked through the doors of the Transformation Centre in California.

The walls were painted in green (I can safely say the green theme has
been preserved)…. On the green walls hung charts depicting TOPICS, I
and the young person’s present would over the July/August vacation
period be taught and drilled on by the dedicated Mr. Anderson Figaro.

The information received included the basic fundamentals on HIV/Aids;
its transmission, prevention and treatment. Also other sexually
transmitted diseases as well as drug abuse, its causes and effects
just to name a few subjects covered.

My involvement with The Voice of One Overcomers Club allowed me at the
tender age of thirteen to gain a ‘real understanding of Society’. The
knowledge gained has helped in my decision making over the years.

Not only have I been able to make informed decisions but along the way
I been able to assist others who find themselves in a difficult

The quote ‘Choice not Chance determines Destiny’ has always been and
still is emphasized by Mr. Anderson Figaro probably because it is the
name of the program; however these words became my personal ideology.
As a young person being conscious of my present choices affecting my
future, this encouraged me to ensure the choices I made in the now
would allow for my dreams to come true in the future.

I look forward to continue working with The Voice of One Overcomers
Club; I do not regret the time I was directly involved as the
experience and knowledge gained has indeed blessed my life.

Thank you.

Giselle Burton – Programme Participant 2004

Feature Address – 10th Anniversary Function and Camp Blossom Graduation (2011)

Thank you Madam Chairman.
Mr. Anderson Figaro, Founder of the Voice of One – Overcomers Club and his team members, (Pastor Winston Cuffie (Chaconia Gold), Manager of Miracle Ministries Pentecostal Church and High School), other specially invited guests…
Long time the old people used to say that each man is responsible for his own life style. They also said that if you show me a man and the friends with whom he likes to “lime” then you can tell the type of home from which he comes. These sayings still hold true…for people are still being judged by the way they walk, talk and carry about themselves, in fact their whole mannerisms, their choices, their actions.
Therefore, my philosophy is that it is crucial that parents, teachers and all influential people in our community transmit to our young people the correct values which are important for acceptable citizenship, positive nation building, tolerance and respect for all human beings.
If each individual, be it adult or child becomes more responsible for himself and other members of our society, we would not witness so often situations where parents and relatives have to hold their heads and bawl because they have lost a loved one to criminal activities or socially transmitted diseases.
You see, each youth has the right to express himself freely; he also has numerous opportunities to make choices and to explore and find his own identity. But are there systems in place to support our youths at home, church, school and the community? How do we want our youths to acquire success and fulfil their personal growth if we do not guide them and show them alternatives to the challenges they may face?
The Voice of One, Overcomers Club is advocating that if children are mentored to develop healthy mind-sets to prepare them to become lifelong learners, then they would be equipped to use their knowledge and skills to face the challenges which they would encounter on a daily basis.
Our youths are our resources – we must invest in them. Let us all look at our lifestyles – Are we really doing the right thing? Is there a better, more socially acceptable way to gain success? For what are we being respected? Is it based on honesty, spirituality and moral values? Do we stand up for what is really right or are we just following the crowd?
We must all understand that true success is not easily acquired. It depends however on the type of choices you and I make throughout our life. That will determine our destiny. We cannot buy choices or decisions.
But we can acquire the skills to use our innate ability, that uncanny feeling, that gut feeling to practise what is socially acceptable as right. We must always remember that there are consequences to each action and we have to live with the results after.
Toddlers are taught not to touch things which are dangerous to their well being, if they persist then they may be hurt – that is the result of their decision.
It is important to note that it is okay to be different when everyone else seems to be doing the wrong thing. We all have the ability to change our attitude… to change our own destiny. We have the ability to lift our own self esteem, lead by example, act decently, think rationally, treat everyone with respect and commend ourselves each time we make positive choices.
Therefore everyone, adults, youths must engage in meaningful activities as part of their responsibility to become a more tolerant person in society. The Voice of One, Overcomers Club is determined to assist in creating a healthy, safe environment for all societies. The members of the graduating class in our midst… are you willing to continue to develop your positive, personal growth so that others would recognise your light as a beacon of hope for change in our society?
Mr. Figaro and his team are assiduously promoting healthy life styles throughout the width and breadth of our country. As they continue with their Outreach programmes, what is your decision? What choices are you willing to make? Are you willing to assist in transforming lives? Are you willing to do the right things in the right way? Are you willing to live the mantra of the Voice of One – Overcomers Club which is – “Make the correct choice because it is not by chance that your destiny is determined.” – The choice is yours… Everything is in your hands.
I want to commend all the talented youths who performed today and all those who completed the training programme.
Finally Mr. Figaro, congratulations from the Ministry of Education on your achievement of ten (10) years of community service through the Voice of One – Overcomers Club.
I thank you.