Monday, 23 June 2014

Thank You Father Gerry Pantin

Not long ago I was at a gas station when I saw the calypsonian the mighty Chalkdust. Something in me said that I should thank this man for all that he has done for the country. Not his calypsoes,although they are pretty good. This calpsonian with all his many degrees, decided that he needed to serve the country by being a teacher and ensuring that he made a difference in some people's life.

I was watching the news this evening and I saw that Father Gerry Pantin had passed. What a loss to this nation. What a loss to the poor. What a loss to humanity. This makes me so sad. Father Gerry was the founder of Servol. Their website describes the founding of this NGO as follows:

In 1970, Trinidad and Tobago was experiencing some very difficult times. A number of people, mainly from the Laventille area, began a series of demonstrations to protect the social conditions of the poor. These marches, subsequently known as the "Black Power" demonstrations, continued and the numbers increased until a group of highly trained officers persuaded the Army to attempt to overthrow the Government by violent revolution.
Following this, Fr.Gerard Pantin, a Roman Catholic Priest/ teacher at St.Mary's College and Mr. Wesley Hall, a cricketer who was on a coaching assignment with the West Indian Tobacco Company, went into the Laventille area to find out how they could assist the people with the various problems they faced. They made contact with a number of street corner groups, had "rap sessions" with them and eventually overcame their initial suspicion and hostility. As a result, SERVOL (Service Volunteered for ALL),a voluntary organisation, was born.

After a period of about three (3) months, Wesley Hall returned to his Barbados and Fr. Pantin made a formal request to the Commander of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force to have some volunteers assigned to work with him in a developmental programme in Laventille.  This request was approved and so twelve (12) soldiers and sailors were assigned to work with SERVOL.  Without knowledge of the theory and practice of community development, they adopted the procedure of asking each group "How can we help you?" It is interesting to note that forty (40) years after, SERVOL workers still continue to ask this question of those who come to them for any form of assistance.

Having laid the groundwork, SERVOL's aim now was not simply to work for the under-privileged but to get the under-privileged to work for themselves, to get them out of the stagnation they were in and to help them formulate goals they could realize.

SERVOL was interested in the self-development of people. It was not a welfare organization nor did it see its explicit task as being the mass transformation of society or the alleviating of the many problems of the poor. Rather it saw itself as a small but important catalyst for social change which Caribbean society desperately needed. In working with people in all their many and various projects, SERVOL was also searching for new models for development, which were capable of being taken up by larger organizations and implemented on a large scale.
The Trinidad Guardian newspaper in 2010 carried a story of the Pantin family:

The Pantin family from Woodbrook answered the call to “serve the people, serve the people, serve all of the people” of T&T. Service has never been an alien concept to the prominent Pantins who made positive inroads on the socio-economic landscape. The late Anthony Pantin was archbishop of the diocese of Port-of-Spain. Former Fatima College principal, Clive Pantin became Minister of Education. Fr Gerard Pantin founded Service Volunteered For All (Servol).  Three doyennes among the Pantin clan epitomise the notion of service, volunteerism and humanitarianism. Ten siblings were born to late housewife Agnes and Julien Pantin, a managing director at the defunct Salvatori Scott Ltd. The union produced Gerard, Tony (late), Rose, Geoffrey (late), Clive, Monica, Ronald (late), Helen, Patricia and Michael. The Pantins’ matriarch Agnes was a “very religious woman” who took them to mass regularly at St Patrick’s RC Church, Maraval.  The family remained steeped in Roman Catholicism. Rosa answered the call to join the nunnery with the Sisters of Cluny at St Joseph’s Convent. Commenting on their calling, Clive Pantin said: “It was a gift from God.  We enjoyed every minute of it. That was important. If you go into a job and you have reservations about it, don’t do it. You are not going to succeed.” Indeed, the Pantin clan have been a blessing. 

Thank You Father Gerry, for all that you have done for this Nation, for it's people, for God. Rest in Peace!



  1. Indeed, Father Pantin was and remains a blessing to Trinidad and to those who have had the fortune to meet him. May the spirit that he brought to life carry on through others, and inspire those who are related to Servol to carry it forward. Thank You!

  2. Hello My Friends, my name is Junior Riobueno, im from Venezuela, i was in Trinidad at 2001 Studying English, i Lived at Pantin's Home but a lost the contact with them Mrs Patrcia and Mr Clive, Id like to contact them again can you help me please, maybe some email or Phone Number to comunicate with them.


    1. Hi Junior, I am happy to help you. You may contact Clive Pantin through F.E.E.L. (the Foundation for the Enhancement & Enrichment of Life). Clive founded this organisation to help feed the poor. There is a facebook page and the phone contact is 868 624 7758 or 868 624 7808. - good luck