Stay away from crime
By CECILY ASSON Tuesday, March 19 2013
Three incarcerated youths, one for drug trafficking and two for murder, yesterday bared their souls to scores of SEA students as they pleaded with them to stay away from a life of crime.
Ashton Blandin, Shelley-Ann Anganoo and Daenah John-Finn, members of the Youth Training Centre (YTC) Mentor Team, were guest speakers at the Eastern Credit Union’s annual SEA Motivational Workshop held at the Redemption Worship Centre in St Thomas Village, Chaguanas.
Yesterday’s theme was “Dream, Belong, Achieve” and Blandin, Anganoo and John-Finn successfully captured the rapt attention of the SEA students from Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary, Chaguanas Government Primary, San Juan Boys’ Government Primary School, San Juan Girls’ Government Primary, Barataria Anglican Primary and Rosec Private Primary. They later faced a barrage of questions from the students, to all of which they gave frank answers.
For Blandin, who was sentenced to 16 years for murder, it was his “anger problem” that put him in trouble with the law. Anganoo said it was because of her “choice of bad company” that she is now serving 20 years in prison for murder, while John-Finn explained that she never “listened” to her mother and instead put her trust in friends and is serving five years hard labour for drug trafficking.
Eastern Credit Union believes the delivery of motivational and educational topics “will assist the students in making the transition from primary to secondary school.”
Blandin, who opened the session for the YTC team, confessed that he started doing wrong things from primary school, which he carried over into his secondary school life.
He warned the youngsters: “Everything we do has a consequence. For every action there is a reaction. Plenty of times we look at people around us doing wrong and we don’t focus on ourselves and you know we doing wrong things too.”
With all eyes glued on Blandin, the children heard that at the age of 17, he was charged for murder and sent to YTC where he spent “six years and more.”
He continued: “Last year May 5, 2012, I got convicted. I was supposed to get 16 years but God is merciful and God is real and I want you all to know that 16 years broke down to three. God alone knows how that happened. God alone knows it is very painful. I saw people try to kill themselves, they drink pine, they drink bleach, they drink Clorox. I saw a young man try to hang himself and that clearly shows that prison is not a bed of roses; it hard, it hard, it hard, it hard.”
He begged them to make the right decisions. Anganoo, who next took the microphone, said she followed bad company although she had her eyes focused on becoming a teacher while growing up.
“I knew what I wanted, but going to secondary school I fell into lime with bad company, I chose negative friends — out went my dreams, out went my goals and I have been in prison for the past ten years because of the choices I made and the friends I chose.”
John-Finn told the students she trusted the wrong people in her life. Instead of her parents and God, she trusted her boyfriend, who she said “betrayed” her when he placed cocaine in her shoes when he invited her on a trip to England.
She told the students: “From Standard Five you go to Form One and sometimes at that age we tend to make bad choices and that’s what I did. I made bad choices.”
She warned them of the “dream snatchers” who she said are people waiting to “ take away our dreams and our goals.”
She stated, “I want you all to be very careful because there are people out there just waiting to snatch us up, to take our dreams away so we can do what they want us to do to end up in a bad place or a bad situation. Prison isn’t nice, YTC isn’t nice either.”
In addressing the students earlier, Pastor Clive Dottin told them of the importance of holding on to their dreams to keep them “going.”