Anton La Fond (Fatima Years: 1968-1971) is one of Fatima’s most outstanding examples of how the College has given its students not only good brains, or good sports limbs but also good hearts.
Following Fatima, Anton’s next training experience was in the UK where he became certified as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Transportation, but found his calling attached to the Disability Unit of the Department of Transport in London.
Here he implemented a project for “traffic calming”, devised changes to facilities at intersections to assist the elderly and visually/hearing impaired. He roamed both sides of the Atlantic designing and implementing a range of aids for disabled citizens—from Canada to Grenada.
In Trinidad, he has done research and recommendations to improve conditions for the disabled who access public and private premises— e.g. at the TTMF building, SAGICOR offices, Grand Stand facilities, and others.
Anton founded his own NGO, C.A.R.E—Complete Assistance Respect Equality—to undertake the promoting of care and service to the disabled and elderly.
Q: What influenced your choice of Fatima College for Secondary School?
A: I admired Everard “Gally” Cummings, who was a football superstar and a Fatima College graduate.
Q: Tell us about your memories at Fatima – pleasant and/or non-pleasant? Fondest/Strangest memories? Any memorable nicknames?
A: I represented the College in Football and Track & Field—simply my pleasant/fondest memories.
Other members of the Football team included Martin Bourne, Learie Parris, Michael Reese, Steven Prospect and Ken Ramdoo. My main events in Track & Field were 400m and 800m. However, in 1967/68 I won in the Fatima Sports Meet the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m and I was awarded the most outstanding athlete of the Meet. Then in 1971, I was awarded Fatima’s Sportsman of the Year.
My nickname was “Cheesey.” I used to mimic my elder cousin, who was a national basketball player and had the nickname “Cheese”…so I inherited the nickname.
Q: Which teacher(s) positively impacted your school experience and life the most and which one(s) did you give the most trouble?
A: Clive Pantin and Fr. Farfan
Q: What is the most valuable lesson that you learned at Fatima? How have you applied this in your career?
A: I developed an appreciation of persons with disabilities. I studied Transportation Policy & Planning for persons who are disabled.
Q: How did Fatima contribute towards making you the man you are today? What advice would you give to the present student crop on maximizing on their opportunity?
A: I developed a profound respect for religion and spirituality. Students should respect their teachers’ and parents’ guidance.
Q: Have you been able to maintain friendships with your classmates since school? Did your Class Year ever have a reunion?
A: Yes and yes. We never held formal reunions, but chose random get-togethers, the most recent being in 2017.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for the young boys of this era and what can Fatima do to support this?
A: The paucity of role models is a major concern.
The school should encourage members of the alumni to share their positive experiences, particularly with the newcomers and those who are about to graduate.
Q: Over the years FOBA has invested in school improvement projects such as installing smart boards, air-conditioning classrooms and sustaining the sports teams with coaches and kits. What projects or initiatives would you like to see the Alumni body and school implement in the future?
A: A robust Track & Field Programme.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing young men of this era? What role can Fatima play in grooming better men for society?
A: Delinquency and deviant behaviour. The school should provide a safe haven for the boys/young men to feel a sense of belonging.
Q: When was C.A.R.E founded?
A: In 2012.
Q: In an interview published in the Trinidad Guardian in December 2011, you said that T&T had a long way to go in “getting things right” as it related to the treatment of differently-abled citizens. You were also quoted as saying “The awareness of persons with disabilities 20 years from now, has improved but the respect hasn’t. So while we can’t deny that strides have been made, those strides could be better. Much more needs to be done.” Has more been done since then?
A: Yes….but much more needs to be done.
Q: Is there any past project or initiative that you are particularly proud of? Any that you would like to see implemented?
A: My first publication of the booklet entitled: Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities.
I would like to see the relevant agencies/authorities pay particular attention to the elderly and disabled, as it pertains to preparedness.
Q: Do corporations and the government usually ask for advice on issues pertaining to the disabled or is it more a case of you initiating dialogue with these entities?
A: I usually have to initiate the dialogue.
Q: Tell us about your family (wife, children, grandchildren).
A: I am single with two (2) daughters and one (1) grandson.
Q: What do you do for leisure….any hobbies or interests? Any guilty pleasures?
A: Sport (marathon & football) and listening to music (soca, pan & jazz). I ran eight (8) T&T marathons and walked one (1) in 2018 to contribute 25 I.T. tablets to Eshe’s Learning Centre.
Q: Do you follow any sports / sports teams?
A: Yes… Local/Regional/International Track & Field and Football. My favorite football teams are Tottenham Hotspurs and Barcelona.
Q: What did it mean to you to be a member of the inaugural Fatima Hall of Achievement class?
A: I felt proud and honoured to be selected among this esteemed group of honourees.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Stew oxtail with lentil peas, and white grainy rice with a green salad.
Q: Do you have any recommendations to FOBA as to what benefit you would appreciate as an alum?
A: FOBA should establish a database of the alumni elders aged 75 years and over, to celebrate their ageing milestones.
Q: Any closing remarks?
A: FOBA — Keep up the good work and may the blessings of the Lord be with you always. In the Spirit of Growth….