T&T astronomer Dr Shirin Haque has been named as one of four Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence Laureates.
The others are Jallim Eudovic, a sculptor, of St Lucia, Andrew Mendes, an energy services entrepreneur, of Guyana and Jamaican community activist Dr Olivene Burke.
The Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards is the only programme in the region which seeks out and rewards outstanding nominees in Arts & Letters, Public & Civic Contributions, Science & Technology and Entrepreneurship. It has been in existence since 2005 and has named, inclusive of the current inductees, 43 Laureates from throughout the region.
Dr Haque, a senior lecturer, former deputy dean and former head of the Department of Physics, at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine is the first and only woman to head the department to date. In 2018 she also became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Caricom Science Award.
An inspiring teacher and researcher in the cutting-edge field of astrobiology, she has pioneered work on the Pitch Lake at La Brea and the mud volcanoes in Trinidad that is recognised internationally. She was featured on BBC’s Science in Action programme in 2008 for her work in Astrobiology at the Pitch Lake. She collaborates with astrobiologists in Finland, Germany and the USA.
She started an observational astronomy programme at St Augustine, in collaboration with the University of Turku in Finland, and its success has brought more international attention to UWI with the contribution of data to the monitoring of a monstrous binary black hole system and the first comet lander mission.
Jallim Eudovic’s work, wood, bronze and marble sculptures, are rooted in Saint Lucian/Caribbean culture but enjoys international appeal. He has been invited to various parts of the world, including China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Africa, Martinique and has been entrusted with the work of creating sculptures for public spaces in several Chinese cities where he has erected seven monumental sculptures to date.
Some of his more recent works include a government-commissioned public monument for the Castries waterfront in St Lucia entitled “All In” to commemorate the island’s independence. Additionally, he has exhibited at the Afro Future Art Exhibition (Miami, 2019), the Zari Gallery (London, 2016), at Carifesta, Suriname (2013), the Stephen Lawrence Centre in London (2016), the 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel (New York, 2017) and in various group shows in France and Martinique. One of his most consistent foreign ports of call is China, where he has been invited to create public works for the cities of Zhengzhou, Changchun and Fuzhou since 2008.
Andrew Mendes is the managing director of Farfan and Mendes Ltd (FML) a family business in Guyana. When he joined it in 1992, it was a small concern, employing less than 20 people and known mainly for selling chainsaws to the timber companies, with an annual turnover of G$78 million. Today, because of his leadership, FML has business interests in not only forestry, but also in the mining, agricultural, and oil and gas sectors, and employs more than 370 people with an annual turnover above G$5 billion.
FML competes locally, regionally and internationally with the Farfan & Mendes Group now comprising Mines Services Suriname NV and two new ventures: Jaguar Oilfield Services and Panthera Solutions. Both have been built through smart partnerships with established global companies giving FML a strong foothold in the emerging oil and gas sector. This led to Panthera Solutions Inc being the first Guyanese company to develop the capacity and work on the newly arrived Liza Destiny FPSO within two years of its incorporation.
Dr Olivene Burke, executive director of the University of the West Indies Mona Social Service (MSS) organisation for the last decade, is responsible for executing the organisation’s vision of strengthening under-developed communities via a six-pillar social intervention model comprising education and training, health, sports, entrepreneurship, crime and violence reduction and peace. She is a leader in the university’s “gown meets town” initiative to make interventions in its communities.
MSS was established in 2008 and under Dr Burke’s leadership has transformed the lives and livelihoods of over 40,000 residents in 16 Jamaican inner-city communities—including August Town in St Andrew and Salt Spring in Montego Bay. These communities are among the most volatile in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Young people from six of the communities have received MSS’s UWI Township tertiary scholarship, and 33 have graduated thus far.
MSS’s interventions are at every level of the communities they serve: school, homes, recreation, and commerce. Through its activities, several basic and primary schools have been outfitted with refrigerators, stoves, proper ventilation and safety provisions, electrical system upgrades, and teacher training provisions.
Students were provided with meals and laptop computers while kitchen gardens were initiated to provide means of self-sufficiency.