President of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) Harrypersad Maharaj has said the organisation will be embarking upon an “action plan” to address crime, violence and the treatment of children based on the recommendations from the 14 presenters who will be attending a conference hosted by the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) and the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre.
He also said there was the need for stronger role models for the youth to emulate like the late Indian freedom fighter Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
Maharaj made these comments after a news conference at the Raja Yoga Centre, at 26 Sackville Street, Port of Spain.
Among those who attended the conference were social worker Ela Gandhi, grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi; Brahma Kumari Didi Sudesh, director of European Brahma Kumaris Centres; and Maureen Goodman, programme director of Brahma Kumaris in the United Kingdom.
The conference opens today and ends tomorrow at Hyatt Regency hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
The theme of the conference is “Is Ancient Wisdom and Spirituality the Answer to Resolving the Issues of Modern Times”.
Maharaj is also a member of the advisory committee at the Ministry of Youth, Gender and Child Development which is headed by Minister Clifton De Coteau.
For this year, 15 children have died in tragic circumstances. On Tuesday, four-year-old Kimora Millette died in a house fire at the family’s home at Betsy Street, La Romaine. The fire was accidentally set with a lighter.
Asked to share his sentiments on the violence and the loss of lives among children, Maharaj said: “We are having a meeting on Tuesday to look in terms of what is happening to children to the society. The conference will be looking at the abuse of children, care and parenting. They are going to address different topics and the care and concern for children.
“We have also made recommendations to the Ministry of Education (Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh) that even the preschools are being given an education so they will be taken care of. Too many young children are left out. We have to look into it for all of us. It is a source of concern for all of us. This conference is a response to all of this.”
Maharaj added: “It (children) is one of the critical things. It is not just presenting papers. I told them we are going to meet in Port of Spain. Before they accepted it.
“We are going to have a good conference. We are calling it the action plan from the conference. As soon as it is ready we will be making it available to all the media houses. More than a year, we are making regrettable statements. When we make statements, this is an action.”
Zeroing on the need for positive role models, Maharaj said: “We are looking for role models in the society. It is critical. We are calling it the action plan.”