Friday evening found us at the Hyatt Regency, at the ATIA annual corporate event, themed The Culture of Purpose. After a modest welcome toast, Romar Trading, yummy Santa Margherita Prosecco, we settled down in the ballroom for a welcome address by Director Herrick Henriquez and a duo of speakers, one local, one invited from abroad.

The featured local speaker was Sharin Luydens, of Censo fame.

I understand ticket sales jumped when her name was confirmed on the program.

We are all full of admiration to this unassuming woman, a former member of the Police force, who runs the only high-functioning government department, in Aruba.

She made one thing clear when she got on stage, she does not consider herself a public speaker.

But between you, me and the lamp-post, she is among the best I have ever heard, because she was organized, systematic and didn’t repeat herself endlessly in the style favored by island politicians.

She knew she was talking to an intelligent audience and went through her talking points efficiently; she did not waste our time.

Her second statement was amazing too: I am proud to be a public-employee.

It was heartwarming.

She then told us about the journey, the evolution of Censo, an old-fashioned and chaotic organization to a modern, reliable, and efficient machine. Passports, ID cards, Voters Registrations, birth and marriage certificates, the entire civil registry, it’s all in good hands.

While at first, when assuming the reins, she wanted to cry, scream and run, she is now proud of her co-workers and what they have accomplished together.

What she told us made perfect sense. She talked about a clear mission and vision, about buying the appropriate equipment and the tools needed, about only hiring qualified people, about having weekly Wednesday catch-ups, about a culture of integrity and equality where everyone is as important as the next. She talked about being humble, and transparent.

The room was getting quieter and quieter, and you could feel the love radiating towards the speaker, as she talked about core values and principles. We all knew she walked the walk, not just talked the talk. We totally believed her. We know from our personal experience that Censo works well.

In the Q&A session, members of the audience wanted to recruit Sharin to DIMAS and DPL, these departments need you, said the anonymous comments.

In the casual conversation with Herrick she explained she’d rather wait tables at the Plaza Café than hire some protegee, as a political favor. She would only do what’s right for her department, and she is not fearful for her job. A generous round of applause followed.

Kudos to ATIA. It was a good evening, the second speaker was a bit incomprehensible, but I enjoyed the evening overall, and the SURPRISE dance music. We should all support the civic organizations of our island, since we have a semi-functioning government, we need them to speak up and organize, and demand clarity, transparency, law, order, and good governance.

We must support non-political service clubs, societies and associations, encourage volunteerism, and promote community welfare and wellbeing, without waiting around for the government. Our society must be more self-reliant, with an active civic life, that offers charitable, educational, and social events organized by activist non-government entities.

The ATIA annual corporate event, themed The Culture of Purpose, proved the system can be cured, over time, by individuals with a sense of purpose.


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November 07, 2022
Rona Coster