by Vernon Khelawan
Ever heard of the word ‘Traffickliters’? It’s a small group of ex-employees of the Traffic Department of the former national carrier British West Indian Airways (BWIA) formed for the express purpose of continuing the love and camaraderie forged while working at the company.
They are now in existence for ten years and held a Thanksgiving Mass May 19 at the St Cecilia’s RC Chapel, Maracas St Joseph. Coincidentally it was Fr Brent Alexis’ first Mass at the chapel in his new appointment as parish priest of the Maracas Valley parish to which St Cecilia is clustered, as well as his birthday. But that is another story for another time.
Following Mass, the group went to the Mt Lambert home of executive member Carlos Landeau and wife Donna to enjoy a meal, some imbibing and plenty of ‘ole’ talk punctuated with lots of airline stories. Clichéd: A great time was had by all.
But it was not all smooth sailing for the group as its early days were filled with problems, personal and otherwise when BWIA was closed down and many of the employees were sent home. The association had to overcome all the problems of the eventual fallout.
It has been a tough but rewarding decade for the association. Tough because of the paucity of its membership and rewarding because of the number of larger organisations helped over the years. Their mission is to help other groups and organisations financially, including its own members who may need assistance because of various health issues. This was the vision of its late founder Peter Dash.
Some of the organisations the Traffickliters Association has helped include Servol, in terms of several scholarships over two years; St Dominic’s Children’s Home; Trinidad & Tobago Cancer Society; and Amica House for Girls, together with several donations to its own members with specific health problems.
The uniqueness of the Traffickliters is that it is a combination of a registered non-government organisation (NGO), a travel club, charity group and a social club. It is probably the only such group in Trinidad and Tobago. Although they have no significant resources, they plan to do whatever they can to make society a better one, where brotherly love and concern for people is pre-eminent.
But more than that, their spirit of humaneness, love of their fellow man and their sharing transcend racial barriers and stations in life. That is so severely lacking in today’s society. Maybe other organisations can take a page out of their book.
The association’s president Ian Corbie, now managing a respected travel agency in Port of Spain, ensures that meetings as well as ordinary get-togethers begin with a simple prayer thanking God for the ability to gather as a righteous group. Meetings, although serious and business-like are with witty comments and laced with humour. As they always say: “It is heart-warming to be together”.
In spite of not having a home to call their own, the group meets every month at various members’ homes including those of Ralph and Donna Francis in Arima; Martin Pacheco in Chaguanas; Andrew and Patsy Dookie in Champs Fleurs and Vernon and Joan Khelawan in St Augustine.
The meetings always have things to eat and drink, making it another reason to get together and celebrate. Other members of the executive include Mona Akal and her pilot husband Dave, Ruby Kueng Fatt, Joy Dash, wife of founder Peter, and treasurer Clarence Homer.
If Trinidad and Tobago’s society is to become all-encompassing, oozing with love and great friendship, then maybe the work being done by the Traffickliters Association should be emulated and Trinidad and Tobago would surely become a better place in which we can all live in God’s love.