VERSATILE: Surinamese Ambassador Fidelia Graand-Galon at Emancipation celebrations in 2010.

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Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures...

...from playground to diplomatic corridors

On March 8, women all around the world will celebrate International Women’s Day, and Trinidad and Tobago will be no exception. The Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT), in collaboration with RBC Royal Bank will host a luncheon to commemorate this special event.
The international theme for this year’s celebration is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” was the inspiration for AFETT and RBC Royal Bank to
invite the female Chiefs of Mission
resident in Trinidad and Tobago, to share their journey from playground to diplomatic corridors. At present we have a record number (9) of female Chiefs of Mission based in this country.
This week we feature Fidelia Graand-Galon, Suriname’s Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Republic of Suriname
Suriname is a multicultural and multilingual country, comprising people of Asian, African and European origin as well as our indigenous people, speaking their native language some mix with Spanish and English, while they are fluent in the Surinamese Lingua Franca (Sranan Tongo) and Dutch being our official language. Each Surinamese person speaks at least two or more languages fluently. Suriname has over 20 spoken languages.
Population: 492,000.
Landscape 167,0000 km2.

My Childhood to teenaged years
I grew up in the Eastern part of my country Suriname in a Maroon village called TangNangaLanti. I grew up with uncles, aunties and cousins old enough to be my mother or father, teaching me everything I needed to know about life and the Maroon protocols and ethics. It was very challenging, but very fruitful at the same time.
Being a Maroon girl, I was not supposed to get any western education, for in the then Maroon communities in Suriname, western education, it was thought, would damage your African heritage and ethics. My illiterate mother had another vision and her mission was to make sure I go to school and speak, read and write Dutch. She rebelled against her husband, my father. I went to school and finally graduated from the University of Suriname as a sociologist—the first Maroon female person to become a scientist in that region.
My mother is my source of inspiration to become an advocate for women and education, to fight poverty, to participate in illiteracy programmes as an instructor, to teach and foster awareness activities,to contribute to the advancement of young people and illiterate people.
In my professional career after my graduation I worked at three different government Ministries. In the Ministry of Education and Science, as lecturer at high school level and part time lecturer at the university, subsequently as policy advisor to Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation on gender issues, health and poverty alleviation programmes and the Ministry of Regional Development as senior policy advisor on the MDG’s, Bureau of the development funds for the hinterland, gender, planning, community development programmes, etc.

My Volunteer Work includes
President of the Suriname Rural Women Producer Network (SUNROP), Chapter of the Caribbean Rural Women’s Network (CANROP).
President and co-founder of the Maroon Women’s Network (2000 – 2007).
I did radio programmes in the Surinamese lingua franca and in my Maroon language, on gender mainstreaming, HIV/AIDS awareness based on cultural taboos, culture vs Christianity issues, etc.

Now
2007 – present Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from Suriname to Trinidad & Tobago. My inspiration is to represent my country in the best way I can in keeping with diplomatic principles. My ultimate book of inspiration is the Bible. My mother is my mentor.

My Vision
Edification of disadvantaged people to contribute to society’s transformation, causing positive impact in their livelihood.

My Mission:
Networking through social systems for sustainable development.

My Motto:
Treasure your pride and defiance, be humble and always remember where you come from to persevere in your strength.
Let us know your thoughts
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