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Talia Khan Supports Venezuelan Migrant Children in Trinidad and Tobago

Talia Khan co-author ofJuanita a book about migrant children

Photo/Courtesy of Talia Khan

According to ACAPS, Trinidad and Tobago hosts over 44,000 Venezuelan migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who fled the socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela. Children represent a significant proportion of these refugees and migrants. It's those children that Talia Khan seeks to help.

Over the years, Talia Khan has witnessed the influx of Venezuelan immigrants in her homeland. In the summer of 2023, almost immediately after graduating from the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French, she began working with migrant children. This opportunity was presented to Talia by her professor, Romulo Guedez-Fernandez, who was responsible for integrating Venezuelan children into the Trinidad and Tobago educational system. Khan started learning Spanish at age 12 in secondary school and was fluent by the time she was 18 years old. As a result, she moved confidently into her role with the migrant community.

Serving the Venezuelan Migrant Community

The Migrant Mentorship Program was a collaboration between UWI, the Catholic Education Board Management, and the Ministry of Education. Under the guidiance of Romulo, who spearheaded the program, educators from the primary and tertiary levels participated in a three-day translanguaging workshop to integrate migrant children into the classroom.

Following the workshop, Khan and her colleagues assisted in preparing an English proficiency exam, a prerequisite for the children entering the Trinidad and Tobago educational system. The exam covered topics such as family, hobbies, and culture.


Khan, a product of migrant ancestors, is of Indian and Syrian-Lebanese descent . From what she knows of her ancestors' history, like the Venezuelan migrants, "they experienced coerced and forced migration because they too were desperate for a better life," she explained. "The fact that not only my ancestors but the entire population of my country are products of migration fuels my willingness to continue helping migrant children and their parents."

Her Work Inspires a Children's Book

While working with the migrant community, Khan and her colleagues were inspired to write a book that would enable migrant children to feel a sense of belonging. The book, Juanita, focused on many themes, including culture, family, language, xenophobia, and bullying. While the story navigates some heavy topics, Khan and her co-authors Rayne Affonso, Jesse Ragbir Buendia, and Bilqees  Mohammed told the story from a child's point of view to make it easy for young readers to understand.

"We thought it was important for them to be aware of the different types of people in society and how to treat everyone with kindness and respect." The young authors carefully crafted the narrative to ensure authenticity and relatability. Juanita is a much-needed book to engage students in discussions about bias and to open their minds to other cultures and experiences.

UWI 2023 graduate Talia Khan and friends

Battling Imposter Syndrome as a Writer

Khan recounts that she began writing as early as five years old. At that time, she was fascinated by fantasy stories with mythical creatures. Khan wrote about mermaids, fairies, and vampires, and created profiles and sketches of the characters in her stories. Although she was passionate about writing, like many others, Khan realized that her biggest enemy in pursuing writing more seriously was herself. She said that suffering from imposter syndrome left her believing that she was not worthy of pursuing certain opportunities or presenting her work. She first shared her writing with an audience during an internship with Unstoppable Yes You.

"I did my internship at Unstoppable Yes You during my second year at UWI, and it was a pivotal experience for me in terms of my writing," she said. Khan shared that working with Unstoppable Yes You significantly increased her pride in her Caribbean heritage and her awareness of high-achieving people from the region. The Unstoppable Yes You internship experience catalyzed her desire to make an impact in Trinidad and Tobago.

The confidence she found working at Unstoppable Yes You led Khan to something she never expected: writing her first book. However, even post-publication, Khan said she finds working through imposter syndrome to be an uphill battle and a natural part of being a creative person, which she has committed herself to overcoming.

"So, since we started to work on Juanita and since Juanita was published, I think that little by little, I'm breaking down that imposter syndrome and becoming a bit more confident in my writing. But of course, I struggle with it today," Khan said.

Future Plans and Endeavors

Khan works as an interpreter with government agencies in Trinidad and Tobago. In her future endeavors, she plans to continue humanitarian work, expand her refugee outreach, and one day work with UN agencies.

Khan has started to write for herself again. She has recommitted her focus to short stories about her experiences—such as her work with Venezuelan immigrants, her work with the government, and growing up as a Muslim in Trinidad.

Khan is grateful to witness the increase in tolerance and acceptance in Trinidad and Tobago. She hopes Juanita is just chapter one in uniting people of different backgrounds and improving conditions for the Venezuelan migrant community.


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