By A. Bonadie (The Vincy Observer)
St. Vincent and the Grenadines recently celebrated its 42nd Independence anniversary. Many Vincentians saw it as a time for frolic and enjoyment, many spent time with family and friends while others saw it as a time of reflection regarding our development trajectory and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent volcanic eruption on the nation.
It is also a time when many reflect on the service others render to our nations development and look and consider such issues as national awards and national heroes.
Sometimes when we cast our view around we look for glaring heroic deeds to be recognised and miss the heroes of everyday life; people who do the small things that are necessary to hold the fabric of our nation together and they do this without expectation of reward.
On or about the Aug. 10, I was driving through Owia in the volcano Red Zone and saw a number of young people cleaning the community. I was quite impressed and stopped and casually asked if the government employed them. I was told by one young woman that their representative had organised the clean up and had hired them.
I was pleasantly surprised, because I had privately expressed the view that the government should employ the young people in the Red Zone, which would provide some meaningful employment to them and jump start economic activity in the areas most badly affected by the Soufriere eruption.
Wanting to express my support and appreciation for the initiative I reached out to a close member of the Hon. Montgomery Daniel’s team and asked them about it. Well, to my amazement he did not know of the initiative and was surprised that young people were working in the Red Zone and that they had no control over what was going on.
Mr. Editor, under further investigation it became clear that the initiative of putting young people to gainful employment in the Red Zone was the initiative of opposition senator, Shevern John.
I contacted Senator John and learned that she had started the initiative over an abundance of concern for the young people who were just doing nothing on the block. Senator John pointed out that most of the work the government did was done primarily by persons living outside the area. She observed that the young people from the community were left frustrated with nothing to do and little opportunity open to them.
Senator John then sought and received funding and employed over 80 young people in Owia and the surrounding areas for three weeks and was able to assist returning residents in cleaning their homes and surroundings of ash and other debris.
We must also understand that Senator Shevern John had to evacuate her home during the volcano eruption. Notwithstanding this personal setback, she was instrumental in providing food water and clothing to many persons from North Windward living in shelters and private homes.
If SVG had a national award system Senator Shevern John, in my view, have met the criteria for national honours. This is the type of practical leadership that SVG needs in this time — selfless patriotic service.
It may be early, but on the merit of her work, all persons in North Windward should give their unanimous support to Senator Shevern John. If this is what she can do in opposition, during a volcanic eruption without government support, could you even begin to envisage what she can achieve with the resources of the government behind her? With Senator John, I am confident Vincentians will marvel at the change and development in that part of the country. I am not talking a few bridges and a few hundred feet of roads every decade, I am speaking of personal and economic development that will positively impact the quality of lives of the people in North Windward.
For the 42nd Anniversary of SVG’s Independence, I nominate Senator Shevern John for national recognition. She is, undoubtedly, “a breath of fresh air”.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].