Twenty-one years ago four girlfriends met for lunch and after much chatting, they founded the Women in Action for the Needy and Destitute (WAND). Today, the group celebrates the tremendous contributions it has made to Trinidad and Tobago and in particular the lives of the underprivileged.
WAND has grown from small offers of help from individuals in 1998 to multi-million dollar projects. Its Annual General Meeting for 2019 led to the reappointment of Wendy Voss as President who is proudly supported by the executive body and her dear friends, Mona Khan and Mical Andres, who both served as president in the past. WAND’s mandate remains the same after all these years – they are committed to helping the needy in communities with the help of loyal friends. The WE Mag Team, met up with Voss, Khan (PRO) and Andres (Treasurer) – a meeting that left us inspired after they shared their joys and struggles in keeping the efforts of the group alive over the years.
Voss revealed that she was a teacher whilst bringing up three sons. She retired early at the age of 50. After, she taught with ALTA, largely in the prison system for about 15 years. Meanwhile, she joined the Board of WAND and has enjoyed seeing it grow over the years acting as treasurer for some time. Voss told us, “I see the position of President as being necessary but only as part of the camaraderie of the whole organisation, not as a controlling role. We have always tried to have fun whilst helping others.” The largest project for the group was the construction of a Drug Rehabilitation Centre for Women which is administered by New Life Ministries. “We have always emphasised that our projects are sustainable, not just donations for temporary relief. This has led us to focus on educational initiatives like the Roy Cape Right tunes Programme (with OLEP) and the Future Growers with Angostura and UWI.”
The executives for the new term 2019/2020 are Wendy Voss, President; Michal Andrews, Treasurer; Jan Bocas Ryan, Secretary and Mona Khan, PRO. The team members admit that their biggest struggle continues to be the acquisition of funds and donations. In spite of this, they continue to give where they are able to, thanks to the help and support they have gotten. For instance, Price Philanthropies donated 84 computers and with the advice of the Ministry of Community Development, WAND secured computer rooms in 15 community centres, throughout Trinidad and one in Tobago, and installed them. UTT Outreach Programme conducted training at all these centres and adults and children of all ages graduated from the courses.
Added to this, Khan proudly highlighted that WAND constructed a Vocational School for the Eternal Light Community in Tunapuna. They have since doubled the size of the school and it continues to assist some children who do not fit into the conventional education system. Supporting her was Andres who also mentioned that in 2014 the group was awarded for its contribution with the National Medal ‘Gold’ for The Development of Women. The achievements of WAND make up a substantial list over the years and it is surely one that is humbling. Knowing that they are able to give back to the community and in particular the underprivileged in a way that is meaningful and sustainable is what they all admitted to holding dear to their hearts and gave as the reason for their continued efforts.
WAND continues to support many individuals and community groups in need. More importantly, WAND is grateful to all those who have supported their fundraisers and projects and have done so for the last 21 years. Mrs Voss told us her dream for WAND is to see it grow and prosper and to widen their ability to help others. To this end they have recently added to their Board the next generation of “WANDies”, to which they are very proud of for bringing a different and dynamic approach to issues in leading the way to the NGO’s future. As the members continue to persevere through this charity, you can help by donating and volunteering too. Follow this powerful force in charity on Facebook @WANDFoundation. Their next fundraiser for the year will be their 21st Anniversary Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency on November 8th 2019.