AFETT's REACH Mentorship Programme

In Conjucntion with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts

Graduation Ceremony

Speech: AFETT President Cavelle Joseph

Dr. the Honourable Nyan Gadsby-Dolly

Member of Parliament for St. Ann’s East & Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts;


Ms. Lisa Shandilya, AFETT Past President;


Members of the Board of Directors of AFETT;


Mentees of the AFETT Reach Programme & Their Parents or Guardians;


Members of the Media;


Ladies & Gentlemen, good afternoon!


Thank you Master of Ceremonies, Ms. Jillian Gibbs. It is an honour and a privilege to join our mentees and their families, our mentors, and other special guests this afternoon. It is an evening to celebrate you, the mentees, on your accomplishments, and your potential.


Today marks the celebration of a four-week journey for our young girls in the Community of Santa Cruz. This journey began with a key partnership between the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago. On behalf of AFETT, I want to express our gratitude to the Ministry for sponsoring this programme and sharing in our commitment, and know that investing in our young people is the best investment you can make.


I wish to express personally, my gratitude - yet again, to Dr. Dolly, the Honourable Minister, and her team; also to our Social Outreach Director, Mrs. Charlene Pedro and her team of mentors; and the parents and guardians who supported their girls on this journey.

When AFETT, led by Past President Lisa Shandilya, introduced the AFETT Reach Mentorship Programme six years ago, it was in recognition that girls begin to mature into young women when they are in upper primary and secondary school, and that they go through many changes and need support. During this time, girls benefit from information that they may not hear from their parents or teachers. When girls receive information that will help them make good decisions about all aspects of their life, they are more likely to stay in school, take care of themselves, and be successful in future activities, whether that is raising a family, being a community leader, or having a job. With the correct information, they can protect themselves from being hurt by others or doing things that will hurt themselves. In fact, research has shown that mentoring benefits young people by improving their self-esteem, their peer and familial relationships, and even their academic performance.

To our mentees, I trust the outcome of this journey meets you enriched and encouraged by the experience, such that you would have developed the self-capacity to face the challenges to come. The idea is not that you become over-dependent on your mentors or the programme, but rather that you received the positive support needed as you navigate through what is now your formative years.


To our mentees, I say to you that success in life is seldom a one-person effort. Many people have invested in you with their time and encouragement, paving the way for your success. Your mentors and parents are here with you this afternoon. They have believed in you; they have cheered you on through this journey.


We are all very proud of each and every one of you.

As fellow investors in the lives of our youth, our desired outcome should be for every youth to have that opportunity to realise their highest potential. Thus, a healthy and positive mentoring relationship is a stepping stone for our mentees to move towards harnessing their true potential with guidance and nurturing from someone they can call a “mentor”.

AFETT’s mission continues to focus on Making Women Winners. We continue to Advocate, Connect and Enable our young girls and young women. We see mentoring as a tool to advocate for and empower our young people to make a difference in their own lives, the lives of other young people, and also within their communities. In our advocacy role to promote mentoring, we also recognise the importance to provide an enabling environment that will aid in the development and growth of mentoring in Trinidad and Tobago.


Working in tandem with the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, we aim to build sustainable capabilities and support systems through developing quality mentoring programmes and mentor training, so that, together, we can uplift the standards and effectiveness of mentoring.


In addition, this programme was specifically designed to cater to the segment of young girls who have been traditionally underserved, but who, nonetheless, could benefit greatly from a quality mentoring relationship. By expanding our reach, I envision in the long run an interconnected mentoring community that leverages on the strengths of various key players, working with one another to provide mutual support and meet service gaps, and by extension, make our beloved Trinidad and Tobago a better place for our young people.


In closing, to our mentees I would like to say: as you plan your life and your career, I challenge you to think beyond just your current circumstances and dream big. I trust you are more confident and able to take on a constantly changing world. You have the potential to be great leaders.


Be empowered by your own abilities and a feeling that you can be anything you want to be.

Please consider the purpose of this programme as an exciting journey towards self-discovery, towards enlightenment, and towards a better future. If you keep this in mind, I promise you will have a fantastic life and a stunningly bright future.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

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