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By Sharmain GraingerDriven by God-given talent and might, and backed by a fervent passion to give back to the Guyanese community, two brothers have taken the term ‘leadership’ to new heights.It is actually hard to fathom how these young men, barely three decades old, could have such an astounding impact on a diverse society, having commenced a mission just about five months ago, designed to bring out the leadership quality in those with whom they interact.Astell Collins (right) and his brother AllisterHowever, they have been able to touch the lives of many, ranging from those within the military arena, religious community, and even the education system, including the New Opportunity Corps (NOC), having been granted permission by the Commander in Chief and Head of State, himself, President Donald Ramotar.But this is nothing new to Astell and Allister Collins. The two are identical twins, who from very young demonstrated that they weren’t your average brothers.In fact, they are already known internationally, but not merely through a movement they formed together called Be the One (BD1) Leadership Development in South Africa. However,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, it is through this very influential avenue, which has been registered as a company here, that the two are already making a very needful impact.It certainly wasn’t a decision made entirely overnight. But before unveiling more of their plans to give back to the land of their birth, and the Region as a whole, let me satisfy your desire to find out who the Collins brothers are.UPBRINGINGBorn to Selwyn Collins and Barbara Waldron on September 22, 1982, Astell Kirk and Allister Klien grew up in Campbellville Housing Scheme, Georgetown. They are the nephews of former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Edward Collins,China Jerseys, who played an instrumental role in their lives, since at the age of three their father migrated to the United States leaving them to be raised by their mother.“It was just the two of us…and one of the strengths of our story is that we had each other,” said Allister, the younger of the two, during an interview with me. In fact he recounted that during his younger days in Campbellville there was a lot of “negativity and incidents of the ‘bad boy’ syndrome. Some of the guys our age would have gone to jail or sold drugs…”But aside from having a mother who was determined to see her sons amount to something meaningful, the two had a friend and mentor in the person of Gavin Robertson, who was several years older than them. In the words of Allister, “he held our hands and helped steer us through the maze of adolescence.”Throughout their upbringing, though, their mother spared nothing to ensure that they were surrounded with positive things. She ensured that they attended church regularly. School, classical piano sessions, as well as swimming classes were also a must. The typical cricket-playing on the street was certainly prohibited for them.However, they had each other to play with although, as Allister reflected, their mother was rather “big on books and us reading and developing ourselves….and despite the fact that you might top the class and had good grades she would always let you know that there was room for improvement”.They attended St Gabriel’s Primary then headed to Christ Church Secondary and subsequently St Rose’s High.But they certainly weren’t doing their best during this period of their lives as they were consumed by the “going away” syndrome.  The two were confident that their father would soon be sending for them to live with him overseas. They even went through university with the same mentality.“We were a bit over-average so we never really faltered in terms of our grades,” recalled Allister, who disclosed that it was their Uncle Edward who really had to encourage them to further their education at the university level.Starting university saw them not only applying late, but even registering for a programme they didn’t really want to do. They applied for Biology which they did for one year before switching to Medical Technology and did quite well. They did their attachments at the Eureka Medical Laboratory and together eventually gained full-time employment there after realising that perhaps “we really weren’t going away.”Serious about lifeIt was at this point that the brothers really became serious about life and were soon embracing their mother’s desire to see them blossom professionally. This was reflected in the fact that after five months at Eureka, Allister was promoted to Quality Manager. Three months later, Astell was elevated to Branch Manager, when the company opened a subsidiary at Parika, East Bank Essequibo.The two were soon thinking about marriage and starting their own families and before long were making land purchases in the Diamond, East Bank Demerara area,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, in order to build their own homes.At the age of 22, Allister was engaged. He married his sweetheart Kaslyn Holder the following year. They are parents to three-year-old Aleeka.Astell, two years later, made a similar move, wedding Marcia Blake, the mother of his one-year-old son, Azaniah.But after spending four fulfilling years together at Eureka as managers, Allister who was well trained in quality management decided to part ways with the company.  During his stay there he was twice awarded by the Ministry of Health for the most outstanding work in quality management.Armed with extensive training, he was on demand when he started his own consultancy firm, Allkas Consultants, to satisfy the need of a niche market to which no one was directing much attention at the time.“Most labs did not have the time to deal with quality management issues,” he recalled, thus he was well on his way to a very successful endeavour. He was so recognised that he was even appointed Chairman of the Laboratory Quality Assurance Committee (LQAC), a body which brings together private and public labs to do quality management.He has since registered his own operation in Trinidad and has been offering his services to the wider Caribbean, but has interestingly remained rooted here in Guyana.THE CALLINGIt wasn’t long after Allister’s departure from Eureka that Astell too decided to resign in order to answer his calling, which at the time was to author a book of Christian poetry titled ‘The voice within his voice’ in honour of Apostle Balgobind Ragnauth of Lifespring Ministries. According to him, “I left Eureka very abruptly because I realised that when the call of destiny beckons it is safe to answer…”Astell, who has since morphed into an inspirational author/speaker and designer of transformational leadership programmes, catering to just about any level of individual in the society, was shortly after on a Caribbean tour financed by his brother’s company.And it was during a stop in The Bahamas that he met the renowned Myles Munroe, who has for many years spearheaded a leadership mentoring programme of his own.The two became very fond of each other, which has even seen Astell incorporating some of Munroe’s “tested principles” from the Bible into his leadership seminars and conferences.Astell has undertaken tremendous work in the area of youth leadership development in South Africa over the past four years, a move which followed an invitation from a South African contingent he met in The Bahamas to travel to that territory. He has since been bestowed with the title of Munroe’s Youth Ambassador.His contributions to youth development in South Africa through an entity he formed Astelley’s Pen Empire, were duly recognised when he was presented with that country’s IKUSASA, Young Person of the Year Award, for being the most influential non-citizen there.However, it was during the latter part of 2012, Astell recalled, that Munroe was stimulated to tell him that he should return to his country of birth. “He just told me ‘your nation needs you’,” related Astell, who on December 26, last year, made the two-day journey back to Guyana after much prayer.He, with the support of his brother, through their BD1 initiative, have collaborated with the Guyana Defence Force and have travelled the length and breadth of Guyana creating a leadership development revolution.“We are grateful to the Chief of Staff (Commodore Gary Best) for his contribution and the way he facilitated us to conduct leadership sessions not only with the military,Wholesale Jerseys China, but he has made resources available so that we can travel throughout Guyana…I would like to applaud, celebrate and salute his leadership capacity,” declared an appreciative Astell.Also, the brothers have since made strategic partnerships with a number of entities including the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport. The latter partnership has allowed them to do several leadership development sessions with the youths of the Sophia and Kuru Kuru training centres, as well as the NOC. And according to Astell, “we are very passionate about the NOC,Cheap NFL Jerseys, because this seems to be the dustbin for the society. Our passion came from the fact that these are the ones that society may think can never amount to anything.”Moreover, the two have embraced the Bible principle “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, among others, coupled with their own experiences to evoke changes in the lives of those they meet.The concept of the movement, Astell disclosed, “…is to be better defined so that you can become the one to effect change. It is a concept from Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Be the change that you seek’ so that you can take a journey of self-discovery to self-mastery.”This ambitious strategy is aided by TAGS, which is in fact an acronym Astell derived for ‘Talents, Abilities, Gifts and Strengths’ which he sees as necessary for individuals to realise and maximise their potentials.And according to Allister, who was recently elected Chairman of the Guyana Faith and HIV Coalition, their recent contributions have been amazingly supported. This, he attributes to his belief that “it is the Lord’s time and his doing; because nothing is done on our strength,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, you find things happen easily.”“There have been some struggles and testing…many of the hurdles God has simply made them as stepping stones for us,” he insisted. He is convinced, too, that their mission is one to preach the gospel in what can only be deemed an innovative way, which will change not only the political and economical landscape, but every sphere of the Guyanese society before they are able to do the same further afield.Even as they continue their endeavour here, the two have been invited to serve as panellists at the 2013 edition of the Commonwealth’s Discovering Youth Leadership programme, which is designed to be an online interactive forum.The main aim of the venture, which is being touted as the largest global discussion on youth leadership, targeting 500 participants and 50 moderators and panellists, is intended to empower young leaders across the Commonwealth with leadership skills.According to a correspondence from the Commonwealth Youth Programme African Centre, Commonwealth Secretariat, sent to each of the brothers, “we believe that your expertise and recent projects would lend valuable insight to this programme and young people participating in it.”They have both signalled their interest to participate.
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