Serving – in unison

by Latoya Burnham

For St. Thomas Parish Ambassadors, Shanade Alleyne and Mario Small, the name Kerry Neil is synonymous with volunteering.

So it came as no surprise to either one, that he “volunteered” them both to serve as ambassadors this year. He had encouraged Shanade to get involved and then arranged for a friend to call her to come to Lester Vaughan School, where, unknown to her, the interviews were taking place. In fact, she just thought she was coming to pick her friend up. She ended up having a successful interview and being appointed the female representative for this year.

Mario’s story was not much different. From 2009, his close friend Kerry had been encouraging him to enter, but then he was too young, This year the 20-year-old cricketer found out Kerry had submitted his name and even signed up the requisite forms. Mario laughed as he told of just having to show up for the interview, where again he was the successful candidate.

Mario explained: “At first I was too young, but this year he came back again. I wanted to do it because I intend to get into politics at some point in time and this programme is known for its public speaking. So I wanted to use that to get out of my box as well because I am usually afraid to speak… in public,” said Mario.

“In public,” Shanade said almost in unison, and laughed “very much so.” She has the same challenge and has used the programme to help bring her out of her “box”.

Sitting in the courtyard at Harrison Cave, perhaps one of the best known locations in the parish, with the sounds of bird chirping, monkeys screeching from the PA system there, the two ambassadors are at home in this setting.

They have become so much a part of each other, working together in this programme, that they can finish each other’s sentences in a most uncanny manner, and not even seem to realise they are doing it.

Beyond his involvement in cricket, which he plays at the club level, Mario is a representative of the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union, while 20-year-old Shanade is a university student in Psychology, wanting to pursue a career in social work.

“I went into this programme with the idea that you would have to work hard, I didn’t realise how hard, but as I said, it has been really developmental. It is time consuming but it has helped me in a lot of ways,” she said, even as her partner joined in.

“I wanted to leave my mark on the programme, at least leave something that I can say, well Mario did that. I’m not sure if I’ve achieved that as yet, but there is still Saturday,” he said with a smile that is almost a mark and promise of some kind of retribution to happen at the Spirit of the Nation Show.

Their project Cut Loose From Mount Wilton to Full Freedom has opened both their eyes to the heroes right in their parish, especially the 92-year-old woman who spent 70 years in the teaching profession, and the janitor who not only cleaned but cared for the children at the school like a mother would.

“This week has been very hectic,” Shanade said, and Mario continued: “We’re feeling a lot of butterflies.

And she laughed, as she said: “Correct!”

“We’ve had our first rehearsal. Our public speaking went well but we have a lot of work to do on our costume. I know this week is going to continue to be hectic,” Shanade added.

“So we … are working hard right now,” the two ended in unison.

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