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Choose peace over violence
Shelly-Ann Anganoo is serving a sentence for killing a teacher outside of school when she was 18 years old, but yesterday she returned to school to urge pupils to choose peace instead of violence.
Anganoo was one of several speakers who participated in the Central Division’s Student Empowerment Caravan at the Couva West Secondary school.
Giving a heartfelt testimony, Anganoo recalled how she never listened to her mother and how she went into a life of crime because she was trying to fit in. “I was not smart enough to say no. I was skipping school, smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. At the age of 18, I was sent to prison for murder. I could have been sentenced to hang,” she said.
Instead of the death sentence, Anganoo said she was given a second chance and she used her time in prison to write and pass eight CXC subjects and three A Levels.
Anganoo was sentenced to 20 years hard labour for the murder of school teacher Ralphy Ramcharan on March 25, 2003, at Barataria. She was not a pupil at the time and had met Ramcharan at a bar.
Also speaking at the function was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Monica Morse, who urged pupils to stop bullying.
“As a child my dad attempted suicide and I became a target. Later I married a man who bullied me, but I found a way to break the cycle. I was a victim but now I am a survivor! I am a champion,” Morse said to loud applause.
She said she managed to break the cycle by developing self respect and respect for others.
“I found self love and so I developed self respect. I also developed respect for others. Tearing people down is never a good thing,” Morse said. Central Division ACP Patsy Joseph also urged the pupils to stay on the right side of the law, while sensei Marva John Logan said sports can be used as a positive alternative to delinquency and violence. Former pupil Leandra Ramdeen told the pupils she faced good and bad times at the school but engaging in sports helped her to deal with her frustration.
Supt of Prisons at the Youth Training Centre, Germaine De Graff, also advised the pupils to choose peace over violence, saying many youths were now forced to spend their life behind bars because they got caught up with bad company.
Mason Ramjassingh, an inmate at the YTC, said he has regretted his life’s choices which landed him in prison. However, he said he hoped by sharing his experiences he could help others make better choices.
Principal Fay Rasheed Persad said safety in schools was of utmost importance. She thanked the Central Division police and the other agencies for speaking to the pupils.
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