Trinidad: Sat Maharaj remembered as loving leader

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Trinidad: Sat Maharaj remembered as loving leader

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) —  Few peo­ple knew the soft­er side of Sat Ma­haraj and many brand­ed him as con­tro­ver­sial not know­ing that be­hind his acidic tongue, Ma­haraj had a heart that could have melt­ed stone.

Such were the trib­utes at his fu­ner­al ser­vice at the SDMS head­quar­ters, St Au­gus­tine, yes­ter­day.

Prin­ci­pal of Lak­sh­mi Girls’ Hin­du Col­lege So­nia Ma­hase and pres­i­dent of the SDMS Pri­ma­ry School Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion Shar­main Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj, who both paid trib­ute to Ma­haraj, fought hard to con­tain their emo­tions yes­ter­day as they re­called the in­te­gral role the gen­er­al sec­re­tary of the SDMS played in build­ing a strong ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for its 43 pri­ma­ry and five sec­ondary schools in T&T.

The court­yard of the SDMS was filled with hun­dreds of mourn­ers who braved the rains to pay their last re­spect.

Re­flect­ing on Ma­haraj’s life, Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj said he made land­mark vic­to­ries at the Privy Coun­cil.

Ma­haraj’s great­est achieve­ment she said was his ad­vance­ment in ed­u­ca­tion.

“He trans­formed our SDMS schools, which were first called and la­belled as cow­sheds, in­to pres­ti­gious learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions.”

Un­der Ma­haraj’s guid­ance, Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj said these schools to­day stand as bea­cons in com­mu­ni­ties.

“He was adamant that no child in an SDMS school should be left be­hind.”

Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj said those who “fell short” would feel Ma­haraj’s fiery out­burst be­hind closed doors.

She said Ma­haraj al­so had “a warm and gra­cious side that few were aware of and ex­pe­ri­enced.”

Try­ing hard to con­tain her tears, Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj said Ma­haraj was a “lov­ing, car­ing fa­ther fig­ure, a men­tor, guide and con­fi­dant whose shoes will be hard to fill.”

Bha­ga­loo-Ma­haraj said prin­ci­pals and SDMS self­ish­ly prayed for Ma­haraj to live to 100 but they all knew he was here on bor­rowed time.

“You have fear­less­ly fought and won your bat­tles, go and rest now with your wife Shan­ti,” Bha­ga­loo- Ma­haraj said, her voice crack­ing as she spoke.

Ma­hase spoke about Ma­haraj at­tend­ing the school’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mo­ny on No­vem­ber 7.

“At one point he turned and said to me, when we win our fifth con­sec­u­tive Pres­i­dent’s Gold Medal he was go­ing to ap­ply for a hol­i­day for all SDMS’ pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary schools to cel­e­brate.”

Ma­haraj, how­ev­er, did not live to see this hap­pen.

Stand­ing be­hind Ma­hase was the school’s 2019 Pres­i­dent’s Medal win­ner Ce­line Roodal, who was ap­plaud­ed for her achieve­ments. The school won 40 schol­ar­ships.

She said Ma­haraj would have been proud of the schol­ar­ships achieved at the Vish­nu Boys’ Hin­du Col­lege and Shi­va Boys’ Hin­du Col­lege.

“He has en­sured that all his sec­ondary schools have been placed on a tra­jec­to­ry of suc­cess.”

Ma­hase said Ma­haraj was un­com­pro­mis­ing, pas­sion­ate and at times a hard taskmas­ter.

Apart from be­ing their pil­lar of strength, Ma­haraj was their men­tor and vi­sion­ary.

“He be­came our gu­ru, our touch­stone and con­fi­dant,” Ma­hase said, try­ing hard to fight her tears.

Ma­hase said Ma­haraj en­sured that the ed­u­ca­tion of fe­males re­main a pri­or­i­ty while he stood proud of the strides made by fe­male stu­dents in the CSEC and CAPE ex­am­i­na­tions.

Pres­i­dent gen­er­al of the SDMS Pun­dit Kr­ish­na Ram­bal­ly said the last thing Ma­haraj fought against was the sedi­tion law.

“He dis­charged his re­spon­si­bil­i­ty with fi­nesse and tact. He was not one to be eas­i­ly dis­cour­aged. His lega­cy stands as tall and strong as he did. We have lost a great leader.”

Those who knew Ma­haraj could at­test that he was a lov­ing in­di­vid­ual.

Ram­bal­ly as­sured that the work of the SDMS will con­tin­ue in keep­ing with Ma­haraj’s vi­sion.

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