TSTT CEO Ronald Walcott

bmobile supports KIND as they teach home and community kitchen gardening

TSTT Corporate Communications

Press Release

The first global pandemic of the 21st century has brought numerous challenges for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. Thankfully, with the help of corporate entities like bmobile, a plethora of civil society organisations (CSO's) have risen to meet these obstacles in meaningful ways and have been utilising these trying times to help our citizens push the needle forward in our overall development as a country. KIND is one such CSO.

Kids in Need of Direction (KIND) was founded in 1996 by Karina Jardine-Scott, registered as an NGO in 1998 and granted charitable status by the Ministry of Finance in 2001. Their overall aim was to help meet the material needs of children and families in the East Port of Spain/ Laventille area to enrich and develop these communities. Their geographic scope and overall intentions have since grown. Given the economic downturn and Public Health measures brought on by covid-19, they have expanded their Plant What You Eat program to over 16 communities across the country from La Fillette and Blanchisseuse to Beetham Gardens as well as Cascade / St Anns. The initiative provides soil, seeds, and education to create home gardens in small spaces, container gardens, and techniques in composting, among numerous other touchpoints. Overall, it is designed to build self-efficiency in communities and resiliency in low-income households.

Gerard Cooper, General Manager Shared Services at TSTT, reiterated the company's commitments to the country's overall development, even in areas where there may not seem to correlate to the company's day-to-day activities directly. "KIND has been hard at work in communities that are bearing the brunt of the fallout from this pandemic and this Plant What You Eat initiative is a timely one that will help to keep healthy food on the table, keep families engaged in productive and positive shared activities and also serve to help keep communities together too," he added. "Our commitment to organisations like KIND is to ensure that they are capable of carrying out this good work that deeply and richly impacts not just the families that they work with, but also extends on a greater macro-economic scale to impact the country positively too," he noted. "I would also like to highlight that there are many ways for citizens to get involved either in their own way or through KIND. You can sponsor the development of a child from as little as $100 per month as an individual or $800 as a corporate sponsor or you can donate

seeds and seedlings to this program too. Our message to our customers is to join us in working towards a brighter future, post-pandemic."

Founder Karina Jardine-Scott details the program further, "It is a very simple way to help people learn how to plant what they consume, and it encourages recycling and healthier lifestyles too. We literally teach participants how to sprout carrots or how to germinate seeds from a tomato plant instead of throwing these things out. We teach composting in a small square area and container gardening for those without much room which can then become a rich and fertile corner in their yards or gardens to grow food items. It has been an eye-opening experience to see people learn that these things are possible and so easy in the climate that we have here," she added. "Recognising the beauty and gifts of rain and sunshine that we have on this remarkable island where you can grow almost anything easily is something that we want to share with our attendees. Plus, in these times, nature offers some mental sanity and energy too. And this is an experience that can be shared with neighbours or with other family members too."

This iteration of the program will benefit close to 500 persons across 80 families. The second cohort will aim to develop kitchen gardens with another 80-100 families in July before moving into five schools. "We are hoping to develop our own seed and seedling nursery in the near future but have partnered with some organisations and the Ministry of Agriculture as well as United Way to expand this program to as many persons and families as we can," Jardine-Scott detailed. bmobile has also been a supporter of the work of KIND on the communications front.

In 2020, KIND adapted to the needs of society and collected and delivered over 7000 hampers, including food supplies, stationery and clothing, which assisted over 27,000 people at the height of the 2020 quarantine period in T&T. They have also been successful in using the data collected at this time to streamline their program offerings based on feedback from participants. One such program entails developing academic pursuits such as literacy only after children and their parents have also completed modules in meditation, etiquette, leadership and family values, among others. According to Jardine-Scott, their work for the past few decades has shown that the child's development mandates the family's overall development too. "We are constantly learning and growing as an organisation and also learning from the communities we are in and the people who participate. We see the need for an overall approach to wellness but do not lose sight of our central tenet of kindness in all that we do. ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) is one of our ongoing programs that encourages people in society to commit to small acts of kindness to help make our society a better, more caring space for all. It can be as simple as running errands for an elder, adopting an animal or even recycling - all these small acts add up!”

The Plant What You Eat Initiative welcomes contributions of material and resources. You can contact KIND via their website at kindkid.org.