On the heels of riots and mayhem, Laventille was rejoicing yesterday upon the return of its community member Ataliah Samuel who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Miss World Pageant in China last Saturday.
Anger flared in John John, Laventille on Tuesday after police shot and killed 23-year-old painter Nigel "Black Boy" Caesar
Police claimed they were acting in self-defence as Caesar had opened fire on them. The killing sparked heated protest from residents.
Yesterday, the people of Laventille had something to celebrate and although Samuel was not successful at the Miss World competition, her efforts were recognised.
A small reception was hosted at the VIP lounge at the Piarco International Airport upon her return where her family members, Opposition MP Nyleung Hypolite and permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism Desdra Bascombe. among others, were in attendance (Minister Lincoln Douglas is currently in Miami).
An emotional Samuel said she did her best and the experience has changed her life.
"It's been harsh but it's been good, I must say thanks because not everyone in Laventille gets a chance," she said.
"I represented Trinidad and Tobago with everything, I even had Miss Spain, she can't speak English saying 'sans humanite', that was the epitome of my jokes whole day," she added.
"Everyone was totally not accepting the fact that I was not in the top 30 and these are girls who were competing with me and with that I smiled because that meant my job there was done," said Samuel.
She said it is not just about Laventille, but other communities in the country that strive for better.
"Once you go through the kind of trauma that we go through, look for a light...because it is not always as easy as some of you think," she said.
Samuel said the journey does not stop for her as she may move forward to study languages and enter the public relations field.
Franchise holder, Daniel Seebaran said that although Samuel did not win the crown, she promoted this country.
"I'm very proud of the way you stood up for yourself and took a negative and made it into a positive. What you did for your community cannot go unrecognised, you have done what millions of dollars and successive governments have not been able to do for your community, that is to bring them together, unite them for one common purpose," he said.
"I hope now that people realise that good things come from Laventille, we've been hearing too much of the negative, now you've become a beacon for your community, my personal hope is that the powers that be use your talents, your gifts that God has given to you to really bring positive change to your community and the communities surrounding," he added.
Akil Audain, councillor for Beetham/Picton of the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation also praised Samuel.
"From here on in you are going to be our peace ambassasdor because who knew this could happen to someone especially from John John Laventille, you only hear so many bad things coming from Laventille...you are the light through that grey cloud in the sky...right now you are a role model to many," he said.
Businessman David Simpson who contributed to Samuel's trip added "in our eyes you are a winner. Laventille has never been more together than when you came...and for the first time border lines didn't matter because you went all over Laventille and Laventille came together and right now Laventille is waiting to see you,".