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Friendly Societies National Annual Conference 2010

By Yvonne Teelucksingh

Photo: Ms. Kareema Hosein of Takaaful T&T Friendly Society presenting the Hon. Mr. Rennie Dumas with a copy of Takaaful's latest newsletter.

Speaking at the recent Annual Conference of Friendly Societies/Lodges of T & T held at City Hall Auditorium, San Fernando, Mrs. Susan Francois, Chairperson of the Advisory Friendly Societies Council and Registrar General in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, admitted that the expansion of social services in the country together with the range of options offered by insurance companies has had some effect and continues to impact negatively on the operations of Friendly Societies. A significantly depleted audience of some 81 registered participants at this year’s conference - as against last year’s complement of 250 attendees - and a national membership of some 30,000 (as compared with 159,000 in the 1950) appeared to lend credence to her concern.

In welcoming participants, Mrs. Francois noted that this year’s theme - ‘Creating Business Opportunities within the Friendly Societies Movement” - might therefore be seen as a continued exploration of last year’s theme which looked at “Friendly Societies in a Global Context; Strategies for rejuvenating and Re-engineering” through the medium of informative speeches and workshop sessions.

Also in attendance at the largely formal morning session were Mayor of San Fernando, Alderman Kenneth Fergusson; Christopher Collymore, FSO II, who presented a Report on the Friendly Societies Division and Guest Speaker Mr. Talbot Paul, Chairman of the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO), all of whom addressed an appreciative audience.

A very impressive Feature Address by the Hon. Rennie Dumas, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development under whose aegis the Friendly Societies Division falls, brought the morning session to a close. Minister Dumas whose interesting talk was, at times, sprinkled with some levity, reminded listeners that often in order to go forward, it was necessary to go backwards. In other words, the lessons of the past should play an integral part when strategic plans for the future were being formulated.

Friendly Societies like other cooperatives are founded on common bonds of association and are intended to cultivate and encourage habits of thrift, prudence and self-reliance among members. They also promote social interaction and fellowship using as their watchwords the virtues of Love, Brotherhood, Fraternity, Truth, Friendship and Honour as the basis for high moral values, respect and compassion within communities.

The Annual Friendly Societies Conference was the inaugural event of Friendly Societies Week during which Takaaful T&T Friendly Society hosted a Commemorative Dinner in Valsayn, followed by Takaaful’s Annual General Meeting and the Annual Parade of Friendly Societies on April 18th last.

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