MESSAGE FROM HER EXCELLENCY DAME SUSAN D. DOUGAN, GCMG, OBE GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF ST.VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TO MARK THE 42ND ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES 27TH OCTOBER, 2021
2021 HAS SO far been an eventful year. The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on the lives, lifestyles and livelihoods of all Vincentians by causing major disruption and significant hardship in every facet of human endeavour and it continues seemingly unabated.
We have seen drastic decline in business activity, prolonged closure of schools, large scale restrictions on regional and international travel and loss of employment as a result of the downturn in all sectors of the economy, particularly the tourism sector. The strain on the health system has been severe and our healthcare workers must be highly commended for their selfless service to those in their care. The problems presented by the foregoing were compounded by the volcanic eruptions in April, only to be followed by the usual seasonal adverse weather conditions in August. The challenges presented took their toll on our national institutions, on our economy and on the populace as a whole.
The government, public servants, NGOs, service organisations, community volunteers and diaspora groups must all be highly commended for their unwavering support through these difficult times. The government’s decision to assist the most vulnerable Vincentians among us with stimulus packages, other cash injections and incentives, along with housing support softened the impact of what was certainly an existential threat.
But the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and the effects of the volcanic eruptions are still lingering and will continue to do so for quite some time. In other words, the current hardships and travails will continue to affect our people.
The words of our National Anthem should be uppermost in our minds at this time “What e’er the future brings, our faith will see us through”. Despite the many challenges, Vincentians remain optimistic but with a certain degree of uncertainty as to when the nation is going to get out of this ongoing complex crisis. We are known to be a people of strong faith who possess a fine fighting spirit and we know that once we can brush aside the annoying distractions that tend to get in the way of our facing this crisis as a united people, we are going to be alright.
As an independent nation now for 42 years, we need to make a concerted effort to forge a much more united front to overcome obstacles and to value differences of opinion than we presently do. Moreover, these difficulties and setbacks will force us to, as it were, reshape our lives, reboot, re-energise and summon up the creative potential within us to find new ways of working and coping. This renewed vigour will lead to institutional strengthening and capacity building as, perhaps, never seen before; especially in education in order to improve the delivery of online programmes to buttress the quality of the home-learning environment. It will lead to infrastructure development, the acquisition of the requisite resources both in the education and health sectors and the application of modern, appropriate and innovative technologies for teaching, learning and communicating.
Our energies should be directed to national development and not to destroying those structures and strong principles that are part of us and who we are. We must continue to strengthen the systems in place to support the elderly, single parent families, where the sole bread winners have lost incomes and provide well thought out psychosocial support for our young people. Indeed, this may be the dawning of a new day for positive change. This is what catastrophic events do to a people; they tap their inner resources and bring out from them, talents that they themselves did not even know they possessed.
I am aware that the most difficult time to muster faith is when we are down and faced with seemingly unsurmountable challenges but that is when we need to be most resolute in lifting ourselves up and facing the future with confidence.
Faith helps us to support others when they encounter difficult times. Empathy, tolerance and perseverance will lift them back up. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and also with those who were severely impacted by the fallout of the eruptions of La Soufrière volcano. Let us be hopeful, courageous and resourceful despite these adversities.
On this 42nd Anniversary of Independence let us all pledge to maintain peace, harmony and stability in our nation. God bless us all and God bless St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
My family and I wish you all a Happy Independence.