Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: March 24, 2017 – “We may not understand exactly what it is you go through, but in your own right, we have a fair understanding of what it takes and what it means to build a more successful society through inclusion and appreciation of diversity. We both share a goal when it comes to giving others a voice and amplifying that voice.” This was the assurance given by Republic Bank’s Manager, Group Corporate Communications, Tisha Lee, as she spoke on Tuesday (March 21) at the annual UN World Down Syndrome Family Network (DSFN) conference, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
Themed, “My Voice, My Community,” the conference was aimed at educating and sensitizing the public on advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of children and adults with Down Syndrome.
Lee said, the Bank was proud to join in the fight to enable and empower people with Down Syndrome to speak up and be heard.
“As we all know, this is a stigma that too often places an emotional restriction that prevents those who are different from claiming their rightful places, on a full and equal basis with others, within all aspects of society. In many ways, the stigma stifles and muffles them,” Lee added.
In delivering the feature address, self advocate and motivational speaker, Sujeet Desai, who was born with Down Syndrome, said while growing up he never allowed his disability to deter him from being what he wanted to be.
“I had three dreams in life; to be a musician, drive my own car and live in my own home,” he said. The 33 year old, who enjoys independent living at his home in Niagara Falls, also drives a sports car. He is also an accomplished musician who plays eight instruments. Recalling moments when he was teased by his classmates, Desai said he longs for the day, when persons living with Down Syndrome will be treated with love and respect. Desai is a recipient of over a dozen of International awards for his music. One of which is a President’s award he received in Singapore.
Midway through his speech, Desai stopped to serenade the audience on the saxophone, with two of his favorite selections, “Can you feel the love tonight” – an Elton John classic and Beth Midler’s “Wind beneath my Wings.”
Among those present at the conference were: President Anthony Carmona and his wife, Reema, Glen Niles, President and Founder, DSFN, UN Representative, Narissa Seegulam and Government Ministers.
Republic Bank takes pride in partnering with organizations like these, to help bring awareness about persons living with disabilities and continues to play its part, to ensuring that these persons are allowed the opportunities to successfully contribute to society.