FOR those who had direct contact with Hal Greaves, it is a shocking blow to lose him suddenly. As the news hit social media, scores of comments flowed about this “one of a kind” social worker and dramatist. Many of the persons in south Trinidad remember him from the popular theatre group, My People Incorporated.
Arthur Lewis of Ibis T&T Performers said Greaves had a direct input in reaching out to communities through the East Port-of-Spain Development Company Limited (EPOSCL).
Greaves, he says, was very concerned about youth development and youth rehabilitation.
“This gentleman played an integral role is assisting this company in reaching families and youths who were affected by crime and drugs,” Lewis said. “In order for us to get individuals to respond to our request we would ask Hal to first speak to them.” He said Greaves established contacts with hundreds of homes and he would spend hours trying to find ways to get people to understand right from wrong.
Lewis also said people identified with him and trusted him because of his television series ‘Roy and Gloria’ with Dawn Henry. Hal had also initiated a programme called Man Talk where men would sit and discuss issues that were affecting them. These issues ranged from work-related to family life and social happenings.
Both shows brought tremendous success in Point Fortin and Laventille.
Director of Sanfest and retired principal, Walid Baksh, said Hal Greaves spells community service.
“He was bent on helping the underprivileged and those who have broken the law,” Baksh said, adding the country has lost a great soul who gave his life for the betterment of society.
“He used the medium of theatre to reach people and to impact on their hearts and minds, so much so that they wanted to do better in life.” Baksh said he admired Greaves for his ability to do interactive theatre and to engage the young minds in thinking about the future.
Baksh also remembers Greaves as an actor who would stride on-stage and deliver the best in storytelling through the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition.
“He was a great actor and an even greater storyteller,” Baksh said.
Carlos Alexander, who was an actor in Greaves’ 2003 production Daaga, said he sat in silence when he heard the news as he reflected on the day when he had the opportunity to work with Greaves on this project.
“I remember when Hal would call me and asked if I had time since he had something for me to read,” Alexander said, noting he was always amazed at the projects he undertook.
“It was never about just comedy or drama but it was about giving life lessons through the medium of theatre,” Alexander said, adding he admired Greaves for his motivational lectures and his inspirational speeches. Greaves, Alexander said, worked in an advertising company and he used his resources to push positive messages on television.
It was a solemn scene at Greaves’ Rushworth Street, San Fernando home when Sunday Newsday visited yesterday afternoon. Following the news of his death yesterday morning, friends from Village Council Street, Upper Laventille, made the journey to his home.
They occupied the front of his house as they shared their memories of Greaves.
Neal Noel aka ‘Engine’ said he spent 20 years in jail for numerous crimes and he met Greaves who showed him how to live a better life.
“I am in shock at this moment,” he said, adding that Greaves was his anchor, someone who looked out for him and showed him how to get the best out life. Noel said earlier this year Greaves launched a social intervention initiative in Laventille in order to minimise crime in the community.
Resolve Enmity Articulate Solutions Organised Neighbourhoods (REASON) was the latest programme on Greaves’ slate. In January, Greaves came into focus again after the killing of two Success Laventille Secondary schoolboys. Men from Upper Laventille spoke out saying Greaves would be remembered for working extensively with young, African men in Laventille over the years.
“Because of Greaves, many of the youths who practically lived on the streets showed an interest in learning a trade,” one man said.
REASON offered classes in life skills and literacy for the youths of Laventille and environs.
This was patterned after an anti-crime programme in Chicago in the United States.
Family members were too distraught to speak, however they indicated they will send a release to the media in due course