For the second year running a candidate from the Dutch territory of Curacao has been named CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Regional Unsung Hero. Gerda Susanna Gosepa was chosen from among 17 nominees who were named Unsung Heroes in their respective countries, and whose work was considered for honour by the programme’s regional judging panel. The runners up for the 2012 programme were Mr. Bonti Liverpool of Dominica, and Vincentian, Edward Williams.

Ms. Gosepa was singled out for her work as a volunteer and social worker in depressed areas of Curacao. She has been instrumental in helping to shape the lives of many residents of the villages of Flip, Seru Fortuna and Groot Kwartier. Over the years, she has helped dozens of families, especially single-parent ones, with the tools to better their lives and move ahead socially. She is being credited as one of the key persons that helped with the turnaround of the village of Seru Fortuna in the eighties and nineties. Seru Fortuna is a housing project that was developed by the Housing Authorities in the late 70’s. The area is infamous for its social problems relating to poverty, crime, drugs, illiteracy, and other problems common in these types of neighbourhoods.

The three Unsung Heroes for this year were selected by a judging panel comprising a number of eminent Caribbean persons, including: Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth (absent); Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (seated at left); Sir Neville Nicholls, former President of the Caribbean Development Bank(seated at right); Mme. Justice Marie MacCormack, first female justice of the High Court of Barbados; Mr. A. Leonard Archer, former High Commissioner of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to CARICOM (standing at left); Mr. Jones P. Madeira Court Protocol and Information Manager in the Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (standing at right); and Mr. Charles Williams, former Chief of the Carib Community in Dominica (tan suit) in addition to Chairman of CIBC FirstCaribbean Holdings – Michael Mansoor; Unsung Heroes is in its ninth year.

In the remote village of Flip in Banda Bou, she has contributed to many social, cultural, educational and literacy projects, especially for the youth, which have helped many of them to surpass their social isolation. In the 70’s she worked as a volunteer and leader for Fundashon Gogorobi, a foundation that organizes social, cultural and educational activities for the residents of Groot Kwartier. Ms. Gosepa was born and raised in Groot Kwartie and at the age of 70, she still volunteers with Fundashon Gogorobi. She has also been an advocate of women rights and has been an active volunteer for Union di Muhenan Antiano (Antillean Women Union), a women’s empowerment organization that was formed in 1977. Ms. Gosepa has contributed to the development of UMA’s quarterly magazines, workshops, seminars, and theatre plays that dealt with the issue of women’s empowerment.

Mr. Bonti Liverpool is a self-confessed drug addict who through his own effort rehabilitated himself and has dedicated his life to saving others. He has established a drug rehabilitation program which he calls ‘Wisdom to Know’. He actively seeks out drug abusers in the city of Roseau and in other areas, while those who have gone through the programme, along with their friends and family, also recommend to him people they know who could benefit from the programme. Mr. Liverpool’s programme is based on the 12-step rehabilitation programme of Alcoholics Anonymous.

He also puts his participants through a programme of counseling, to rebuild their self esteem, and provides them with techniques to prevent a relapse. The rehabilitation center he has established is a residential community, a half way house for clients recently released from prison, and a ‘drop in center’, a place where the homeless can find shelter, a bath, a meal and counseling. This is all in an effort to realize the vision statement of the project which is “to provide Dominica with a drug free generation by the year 2030”.

Mr. Edward Williams, known in St. Vincent as Bro. Fred, is a physically challenged man who has committed his life to the selfless care of others, in particular young children. His work is particularly remarkable because he has suffered from polio since the age of 16 years and at present is unable to sit; performing all his work while standing on crutches or lying in bed.

Bro. Fred has mentored children and adults in his community; adopted or housed over a dozen children, provided financial assistance to children and students; provided meals to the less fortunate; taught practical/technical skills and craft to youths and adults; been a Sunday School Teacher, Song Service Leader, Stewardship Leader and Temperance Leader at his church for 24 years and offered food and shelter to the homeless.

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