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Virtual Closing Ceremony of USAID's Community Resilience Initiative
November 5, 2020

Acting DCM Joseph FitzGerald at closing ceremony USAID Community Resilience Initiative
Acting DCM Joseph FitzGerald at closing ceremony USAID Community Resilience Initiative

Remarks By Acting Deputy Chief Of Mission, Joseph Fitzgerald.

Virtual Closing Ceremony, United States Agency For International Development’s (USAID) Community Resilience Initiative

November 05, 2020

It is my pleasure to speak with you today at the closing ceremony of the Community Resilience Initiative, an initiative of the United States government.

It seems like yesterday that the United States Agency for International Development, launched this program at the Community Resilience Initiative community resource center in Maraval, Port of Spain, in May 2019.

The United States remains committed to the people of Venezuela, who are suffering the impact of the illegitimate Maduro regime’s misrule, oppression, and corruption.

To date, more than five million Venezuelans have fled their country with tens of thousands finding their way to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago.  It is a reminder that the Maduro regime’s actions don’t just negatively affect those in Venezuela, but also those in the region as well and, for this reason, the United States is providing humanitarian and development funding across 17 neighboring countries to help them cope with the impacts of this crisis.

The U.S. is proud to assist both Trinbagonians and Venezuelans in their time of need and thank the communities of Arima, Mayaro, Chaguanas, and others that are so generously hosting Venezuelans that have fled their country.

The Community Resilience Initiative has helped strengthen the resilience of local communities by engaging stakeholders through several committees.

The Multi-Stakeholder Committee fostered stronger coordination and cooperation among the Trinidad and Tobago government, private sector, civil society, and international actors.

The Economic Inclusion Committee explored ways to promote fair and equitable work practices and increased access to opportunities for financial inclusion for refugees and asylum seekers.

The Mental Health and Psychosocial Services Committee focused on health-related issues, identified targeted coordination efforts, and supported referral options for the treatment of Venezuelans.

I wanted to highlight one success story stemming from the good work of this last committee.  It is the story of 14-year-old Valery.  Valery and her family came to this country because she could no longer access the medication she needed for her diabetes in Venezuela, due to the Maduro regime’s gross mismanagement of the economy and state resources.  While Valery came to TT with very little, CRI helped her find the critical medicines she needs, while also offering her skills to make TT a home, at least until she can return to Venezuela.

While initially nervous about learning and using English, she overcame her inhibitions and is now using her newfound confidence to coach other Venezuelan refugees and locals in English and Spanish.

In this role, she helps build a stronger local community that embraces both cultures and languages while also creating, as she says, “memories that will follow me for the rest of my life, accompanying me in my heart.”

Ladies and gentlemen, this project has a far and wide-reaching impact.  The stories I and others have mentioned today are just a few of the 2,500 successes from people directly impacted by the Community Resilience Initiative.

I am told that over 1,600 people received psychosocial support through the Community Resilience Initiative and a further 350 Trinbagonian and Venezuelan youth accessed training in social and leadership skills.

These statistics are very encouraging.  But more importantly, the impact of these efforts on the day-to-day lives of young people, women, and the most vulnerable nationals and refugees is uplifting and inspiring.

In conclusion, I would like to say thank you to  each and every one of you here today who supported, participated, and collaborated with USAID and the Democracy International team to make the Community Resilience Initiative an enormous success.  The United States is proud to share this journey with you.

Thank you.

Press Release: Community Resilience Initiative Leaves Legacy of Tolerance (PDF 341 KB)