Janelle De Souza
Ancilla Ashley Kirby, 31, is passionate about philanthropy, charity, politics and empowering young women.
This passion arose when she worked at the Department of Social Development from 2012 to 2017. There she was in contact with the public, working for grants, leading community outreach projects and providing assistance to people in the community. need. And it made her realize that helping others was something she wanted to do with her life.
Her passion and hard work resulted in her being shortlisted for two awards for the 26th Annual National Youth Awards hosted by the Department of Youth Development and National Service on October 2: Youth Activism / Service and Awards Communication and media.
Kirby said it came as a shock when she learned she had been nominated and shortlisted because there were so many “exceptional youngsters” in TT.
“I don’t really have a lot of resources to work with, but there’s a saying that you don’t have to do big things, but you can do small things in a great way. “
She said it was an incredible honor to be nominated and speculates that her work had a big impact on those who nominated her.
“I grew up in a very humble environment in a community at risk, in Success Village, Laventille. As a young lady, I would have encountered a lot of horrible circumstances that made me say I had to be the change I want to see.
“On the way to school there were murders, sometimes in front of your house or around the corner, young men just turning to a life of crime and death. You talk to them and hope for the best, but it doesn’t always work. These things break my heart.
She said that some people assume that all the people in Laventille are illiterate, have no potential or motivation and that upsets her.
“Yes, we have crimes and the things that happen could be off-putting, but we have good people from here and there are a lot of positives in Laventille that should be highlighted. It’s something I’m working towards. Honestly to God, I don’t want to see our community endure this unnecessary stigma. I just want Laventille to be a better place.
Kirby has always been interested in studying history, law, politics and everything she could learn to improve herself and serve others, even going so far as to run for local government. in 2019.
“I am a mantra: to find yourself, you have to lose yourself in the service of others. This is my philosophy and this is how I intend to live my life.
Kirby has been through a lot of tough times and isn’t ready to see other people go through the same things she does. She understands that this is not only the responsibility of government, but NGOs, community organizations, business participation and individuals must also get involved.
She plans to work on environmental sustainability, creating jobs for now and in the future, and educating the public that would allow people to speak out clearly and effectively.
“People need to be educated in the way they feel comfortable, communicated in a way that they don’t feel looked down upon and in the way they can feel love. and appreciation. “
She said education can mean academics or professional skills, as long as people can achieve what they want and make a difference.
To achieve her goals, she intends to go into politics and eventually join the United Nations.
Since philanthropy and charity work were things she wanted to do, Kirby sought out resources and like-minded people to do it.
She has been a member of the Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals since 2016 and is currently Deputy Vice President for Policy. There, she engages in many activities such as organizing conferences, food and health drives, legal clinics and more.
As secretary of the Success Central Community Council, she is involved in community projects, beautifying the community and helping with homework centers. She is also part of the Foundation for the mobilization of young people.
Until the age of 25, she was part of the Youth League of the National Popular Movement of Laventille Ouest as a field agent, was already involved in the Center Laventille Servol and worked with various advisers for The lentil.
In 2018, with the help of the Heliconia Foundation, she gathered her resources and donated high school entrance assessment kits to 12 children. Later that year, she was nominated for a National Youth Award in Youth Activism.
“I didn’t really know it would have had such a huge impact because I see people in the news giving away 300 tablets or laptops, but the love and the way they expressed their feelings meant a lot.”
Additionally, over the years, she has written numerous comments which she sends to local newspapers.
“I write a lot about empowering women, celebrating women, all levels of development, advocating for bills to pass so we can be safe, etc.”
Some of his writings have been shared widely on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Kirby graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI) with a BA in History with a Minor in Social Development Policy and Planning in 2014 and was accepted to pursue law studies at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados. .
“Law is a level that I would like to understand because a lot of things get lost in the system that we all take for granted. It will also strengthen my activism.
“When I was accepted to UWI in 2009, that was the road I was going to take but I couldn’t go to Barbados. I come from a single parent family and my mom is not a good person so I had to stay with my mom for a while.
Through distance learning, she also began a Masters in Social and Human Services with a concentration in Social Policy Planning and Analysis with Walden University, Minnesota.
“I started in 2016, but I didn’t have the finances to finish funding this, so I took time off, but I did a lot of classes. I’m still here but I can’t finish it yet.
Prior to that, while attending St George’s College in Barataria, Kirby obtained a scholarship at UWI Sixth Form School of Continuing Studies, now called UWI Open Campus, where she completed five A-level subjects and received the most outstanding student award.
She has also completed numerous certificate programs including Integrated Planning for Climate Change and Biodiversity, Advanced Social Psychology, Knowledge Management in Government Organizations, Computer Literacy, Sustainable Development, Stakeholder Management of project, human resource management, critical thinking for self-development and much more.
She also hopes to do her doctorate in history.
Why all these studies? Because she has known people’s discrimination and prejudices, Kirby wants to be able to pass knowledge on to future generations and give those in similar circumstances something to build on.
“The key to doing what I do is passion. I never tire of doing it. I’m just looking for other ways. Do you know how many times people tell me no? No, you can’t go in there. No, this job is not for you. But I must pass because I know that nothing will be returned to me. And in the process, I learn so much more.
“This is one of the things that sparked my activism. I’m really sick of discrimination as a black person, of being looked down upon because I might not have the resources to do certain things, because of my house, because I live in Laventille, because I am a woman. That’s why I’m trying to push and say we could all do it if we work together.
She said that unity brings strength, which is why she is so happy to have found like-minded people who understand where she is from, her struggle and what she wants to do.
Before that, she felt lonely, in danger and didn’t feel like she had a space. Since then, she has gained the strength to create her own space, not to compromise who she is for any reason, and hopes that in the end, even though she is not loved, she would have accomplished this. that she had fixed herself. do and be respected.