PROFILE OF THE WEEK:
By Dr Dhanpaul Narine
Ralph Tamesh has worked hard all his life and he has overcome many challenges. As President of the Indo-Caribbean Federation (ICF), he leads a team to expand awareness about the condition of Indo-Caribbeans and the impact that they are making in New York, and beyond.
Ralph is conscious of the fact that the ICF must perform outstandingly well to win the confidence of the public. Under his leadership, the ICF has been able to host more than twelve functions annually which is remarkable for any voluntary organization.
Ralph was born at Bell Plane in Wakenaam, Guyana. Wakenaam, like Leguan, is a picturesque island in the Essequibo region of Guyana and it has produced many outstanding personalities, some of whom are resident in New York. Ralph has enjoyed the best of both islands. His father, Lochan, is from Leguan and his mother, Jasmattie, is from Wakenaam.
As a young student Ralph attended St. Francis School in Leguan. The family moved to Georgetown in 1966 and Ralph went to the Maha Sabha School where Karna Chinapen was the headmaster. After a stint at Central High School Ralph became a teacher in the Pomeroon. He taught at Abrams Creek School for six months and then he left for Bookers Sugar Estate in Georgetown to be an Accounts Clerk.
In 1980, Ralph made a bold decision. He left Guyana for Surinam. He saw a lot of Guyanese in Surinam and he also experienced political uncertainty in the country, as a result of a revolution. Ralph lived in Paramaribo and found the city to be a beautiful and thriving place. There was a great deal of trading between Guyana and Surinam; many Guyanese worked in the construction industry in Surinam.
Ralph spent two years in Surinam and he enjoyed his stay there. In 1982, he left for the United States. He landed in Florida and three weeks later he arrived in New York. It was October and New York was in the middle of a recession.
Ralph settled in Astoria and soon he was doing well. He worked for Ariel Machine and Tools and his accounting background came in handy.
Ralph stayed for seven years with the company and was promoted to different positions. When the company moved out of New York he was offered a job at another firm and a position was created for him in the IT department at Coffee Distributing.
Over the years, Ralph has been involved with the Indo-Caribbean Federation. How did this happen? He explains that the ICF started in 1989 and he was invited by Ray Sundar to attend a meeting. Ralph was impressed by the turnout and the quality of the participants. They included Fred Mallay, James Permaul, Rajpattie Jagopat, Isardat Ramdehal, Basil Bhajan, Jagdesh Mohunlall, and later Frank Singh. He made a decision to become part of the group and he thanks everyone for their inspiration and guidance.
Ralph became President of the ICF in 2002, and has held that position ever since. As President, he realized that a lot of work was needed. He wanted to build on the achievements of the organization and to put the ICF on the map. He said, ‘in the past we would do one or two events a year but now we have more that 12 events which is approximately one every month.’
One big improvement is to honor the legends of cricket. Under Ralph’s leadership, the ICF has honored Sunny Basdeo, a former spin bowler who played for Guyana against Len Hutton’s side in 1948. There were other honorees as well that included Reds Perreira, the broadcaster, and cricketers Bernard Julien and Raphick Jumadeen. Some of the local honorees were Derrick Kallicharran, Tyrone Etwaroo, and Gary Nascimento, among others.
Ralph is impressed with the humility of the honorees as it fits in with the mission of the ICF. Apart from cricket there are bus trips, Thanksgiving luncheons for seniors, the giving of gifts to seniors, and charitable donations to Guyana. This is in addition to the annual event in Smokey Oval Park that promotes the artistic talents of the community and attracts hundreds. Ralph would like to see an expansion of the programs, including involvement in more humanitarian work. The ICF also participates in some of the leading events in the community such as the Phagwah and Diwali parades.
One of Ralph’s major successes has been the arranging of the Rockaway T20 cricket competitions, sponsored by Hafeez Ali of the Rockaway Group of Companies. The games are played at Baisley Park in Queens. Three games are played in a day and fans are treated to high quality cricket for free. There are a number of teams vying for the 2018 T20 crown and they include Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kashmir, and New York team.
Ralph’s vision is to broaden the charitable and sporting activities with the aim of bringing people together. He would like to thank the officers of the ICF for their commitment and hard work.
They are Anoop Dhanpat, Imran Ali Ahmad, Lisa Edoo, Frank Singh, Stanley Raj, Yvonne Singh, Sattie Sahadeo, Sherry Williams, Son Son Sonipersaud, Jasodra Thakordeen, Shirleen Needleman, Sabrina Dyal, Dr.Vijai Lillah, Mohamed Shakur, and Bhagmattie Lillah. Then there are Michael Gencerralli and Jim Laurice who were kind to Ralph and treated him with respect when he worked for them. His current boss Bob Friedman also shows him the same respect. Ralph is grateful for their support and he includes his sons Ravi (deceased) and Navin on this list as well.
He admires President Obama and Michele Obama for their class and contributions. Ralph’s favorite cricketer remains Sir Viv Richards. The former West Indies captain took charge of the game and wore his colors with pride and never lost a Test series. There is no question that Ralph has a lot more to contribute to the community. We wish him and his family all the best in the future.