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Larger-than-life patriot says home is where the heart is
Surujdeo Mangaroo is one of the larger-than-life individuals we are blessed with in T&T when it comes to the preservation and propagation of Indian culture. Mangaroo, who turned 60 this year, is best known for his role as the Public Relations Officer of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC).
Despite his success in the cultural and business fields, Mangaroo still lives in the community that he grew up in and has never disconnected with the people of Tulsa Trace in Penal and the entire south-central community.
“I took my first steps there (in Penal), my children and grandchildren did too, this is a community that has cradled my entire family to which I am truly indebted to. The rice paddy fields were our playground as children, and the pristine rivers provided our village with meals many a times; this has molded me and has taught me to value and cherish the little things in life.
“I would not trade my life here for living anywhere else in the world. Waking up in my hometown is waking up to a breath of fresh air. The cool mornings with the first rays of sunlight peeking through the heavy mist; it truly is an amazing sight.
“When all my siblings migrated, I felt it was my duty as the eldest son to ensure my parents had someone close by; they were the magnetic pull to my home town. Home is where the heart is, and now, my children and grandchildren have settled within a three-mile radius.
“I could not see myself living further away from them and not be able to experience true joy.
“As a young professional, I have seen many of the educated and highly-professional persons migrating overseas or to the city, but I decided to stay and help to build my community and discipline the youths to better themselves and likewise bring about a cycle.”
Mangaroo attended Tulsa Trace Hindu School and Palo Seco Secondary School before proceeding to the Academy of Insurance. He also attended the Canadian Institute of Insurance, in Toronto.
Mangaroo has also forged deep cultural links with Indian artistes in Guyana, Jamaica and Suriname. Kries Ramkhelewan, Suriname’s most prolific Indian singer, paid tribute to Mangaroo for his 60 birthday on April 16, and made a special recording of ten songs that were presented to him. Mangaroo said the projection and acceptance of Indian culture has exceeded his expectations, adding: “The Western world has embraced us and it is growing by leaps and bounds. The NCIC has been a pathway for every creed and race to embrace the fascinating elements of our culture. We have traversed many continents, and the NCIC has been the backbone giving us this opportunity.
“As its PRO, I would say that the Divali Nagar is doing all it can to preserve our culture. We recently opened the Heritage Library, with an astounding display of books, available to the public. The NCIC has reached worldwide providing a forum for authors and artistes to showcase their talents on international stages. We have hosted workshops for our young and budding artistes and we hope to continue this over the years to come. The NCIC created a platform for young artistes to develop, learn and master their art form, some who have now become professionals in their respective fields.”
In 1978, Mangaroo married his wife, Narda, and they have been married for more than three decades, They have four children are—Dinesh, Vinesh, Shivani and Reshmi.
Mangaroo also has three grand children.
Serving the community
Mangaroo has served in the insurance industry for over three decades and progressed from being a field underwriter to his current position, managing director and CEO of Trinity Insurance Brokers Ltd.
Mangaroo is also well known as the chairman of the National Commission for Self Help Limited (NCSHL), between 2010-2015. He was one of few pro-active chairmen, a professional that the simple man in the street could reach out to and get assistance.
Mangaroo was known to drop his engagements to assist fire, flood, and storm victims as soon as he got the news.
Under his tenure in NCSHL Mangaroo oversaw the construction of several new community outreach structures that were designed not only as community meeting places but as hubs for entrepreneurship.
When asked why he gives so much of his time to assist people, Mangaroo said: “I made a commitment to serve the people. Live is about serving others.
“This is part of our spiritual teachings; we cannot have and not assist our brothers and sisters. Much is expected of us when we hold any position regardless if it is at the top or bottom we must deliver.”
Politics is his passion
Mangaroo is also the charter president of the Rotary Club of Penal.
Through Rotary he has assisted single parent families as far as Mayaro, assisted schools, communities and causes undertaken during his stewardship.
Now, at age 60, Mangaroo said he has great plans for his future which may include entering the political arena. “Politics is a passion of mine,” he revealed. “If it is in my destiny, then it shall prevail.”
He added: “Retirement is a time for personal growth, a time to unwind and be at ease with my mind and soul. I will now be able to do all that I have dreamed of but never had the time to do.
“I will now have a chance to embrace new challenges and experience new adventures.”
“I have travelled to over 60 countries and I intend to make it over 100. Throughout the years of constant work, I must admit, there were times I had neglected my family to which any professional can attest. Some sacrifices are big and some small but it is never too late to make a change and make time for the people who matter. Without their support, I would not be the person I am today.
“I have dedicated my life to promoting culture and philanthropy and I have no intentions of discontinuing this practice.”
To the nation’s young men and women, Mangaroo offering these pearls of wisdom: “There is more to life than an eight to four job; build a career and excel to achieve true purpose. Make yourselves available for sports, culture and philanthropy because service to man is service to God.
“Your parents seek only your well-being and success, so lend an ear to them for they are your truest supporters.”
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