If you really want to give a gift to former Habitat for Humanity chairman Ronald Harford, plant a tree.
This was his request on Thursday as he handed the reins of Habitat for Humanity over to Coosal’s Group of Companies’ executive chairman Sieunarine Coosal.
While giving his farewell speech at the Mariott Hotel on Invaders Bay, recently, Harford was presented with two gifts: a paperweight in the shape of a hammer, and a mailbox in the shape of a house. Instead, he asked that a samaan tree be planted somewhere in his honour.
“If you really want to get me something, plant a tree, so some people could have shade,” he said. “With a tree you could sit under it from the sun, cool your body and clear your head. There are a lot of people out there – angry people – and sometimes all they need is a little shade.”
Harford, in handing over the reins of the organisation to Coosal, described the businessman as “ebullient,” saying he was one of the greatest philanthropists in the country.
“Ebullient means cheerful, smiley, and full of energy and dynamism. One word that describes him is that. You know when he enters a room there will be action and happiness,” Harford said.
He siad Coosal had been involved in Habitat for Humanity since 2006, first in his role as a member of the advisory board, then in the Capital Cabinet in 2012.
“Mr Coosal has been providing guidance, opening doors and endorsing the mission of Habitat for Humanity TT. He has also been one of the Habitat’s donors for over a decade with a significant amount of material and products for the construction of the housing solutions.”
“I leave knowing the work of the Cabinet will continue,” he said.
Coosal, in accepting the position and taking up the mantle, said he was humbled to follow in Harford’s footsteps.
“Mr Harford is a champion for universal housing,” Coosal said. “He dares to see the possibilities of changing the language of philanthropy and is never afraid to ask his peers to support the mission with their hearts and their pockets.”
Coosal said safe and affordable housing was the best way to break the cycle of poverty in TT.
“With Habitat for Humanity we have the chance to transform the lives of hundreds of families, opening the door to all the things we sometimes take for granted – education, health, security, and dignity.”
He said Habitat for Humanity provided people with a start and a safe place where people and their ideas could thrive.
Coosal said the new Capital Cabinet, which would be tasked with raising funds for the Habitat’s projects, would include business owners Gabriel Fariah, Gregory Aboud, Dominic Hadeed, Eugene Tiah, Dawn Thomas, Nicholas Lok Jack, and Shaun Rampersad.
The Cabinet will be tasked with raising a total of $58.5 million over the next five years for housing projects, disaster relief, neighbourhood revitalisation, asset building, operations and administration and to promote the brand.
“Ladies and gentlemen $58.5 million is an ambitious goal but a necessary one if we are to be the catalyst that is needed to propel TT forward,” Coosal said.
Over the past 12 years, Habitat for Humanity raised $38,485,330, built 500 shelter solutions and 146 housing solutions.
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