Providing legal aid in hinterland part of big plans for UWI valedictorian from Port Kaituma

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By Vishani Ragobeer

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Growing up in Port Kaituma – the mining town in Region One (Barima- Waini) – Jensen Samaroo listened to his grandmother speak about court sessions and the ‘fancy’ lawyers from Georgetown. Those lawyers had high fees and people who couldn’t afford their services went unrepresented.

“A lot of the persons she spoke about, who went unrepresented (or) were charged high fees were persons I was familiar with,” Samaroo recollected during an interview with the News Room on Friday.

He pauses briefly and continues, “That is a situation I wanted to be able to address. I didn’t want those persons going unrepresented again.”

As he moved from the Port Kaituma primary school to President’s College and the Bishops’ High school on the coast, he didn’t lose sight of that goal. In fact, he took that with him all the way to Trinidad and Tobago where he applied to study law at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

He didn’t get accepted for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) straightaway, though. Instead, he was offered a place in the university to study Political Science. And he accepted with the intention of transferring into the law programme after his first year.

But the unexpected happened. He fell in love with Caribbean politics and the political affairs of the Caribbean. So, after consulting his parents, he decided to finish the degree in Political Science- doing so with a minor in International Relations.

Jensen Samaroo in front of the Port Kaituma primary school in Region One

While pursuing this degree, Samaroo immersed himself in the affairs of the regional university. This included student governance, which led to him becoming the International Affairs Committee chairperson who supported regional and international students like himself.

And on Friday, Samaroo graduated as the Valedictorian of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the university – a feat he says he never aspired towards, never imagined possible and really, was not expecting.

“Being valedictorian is surely a privilege and an honour,” he said.

He hopes that he can be an example for youth in his hometown of Port Kaituma and for youth in the wider hinterland regions of Guyana. This is particularly important, he explained, since hinterland youth have many hindrances to their academic development.

Finishing his first degree and emerging valedictorian is certainly not the end of his ambitions, though. In fact, the 22-year-old jumped right into the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme at the university.

He related that he isn’t interested in becoming a politician, or, at least it is not an aspiration he has right now. Instead, he is hopeful that he can help advance political development by helping to strengthen political institutions in Guyana and the Caribbean. Part of strengthening those political institutions is law reform.

Samaroo speaking at an event at the UWI in Trinidad and Tobago

“The two are not divorced from each other… law and politics,” he explained.

More importantly, perhaps, he has not forgotten his grandmother’s stories and his longtime goal. He wants to help the people in his community.

“For a very long time, I thought I wanted to get into politics but it is really that I want to help people,” the young man emphasised.

He also thinks that he can contribute to the educational development of Port Kaituma youth, too. Fundamentally, he believes that the education of the youth would benefit the wider country. It would be a sweet bonus if he is able to engage them on Caribbean history.

And he is heartened by other youth from Port Kaituma who have been blazing a pathway for others to follow or, as he says, take example from. Altogether, he believes that these efforts have a profound impact.

“I don’t think realistically that one person can change the world but I subscribe to the view that you can make your corner of it better and your corner nicer.

“In that sense, if I can make my corner- which is Port Kaituma nicer, then at the basic level, that could ultimately contribute to the development of Guyana and the Caribbean,” Samaroo said.

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