Dr Jerrol Thompson: Nothing prepared me for what I saw
February 19, 2010
Dr Jerrol Thompson: Nothing prepared me for what I saw

DR Jerrol Thompson, Minister of Telecommunications, is appealing to Vincentians to pay more attention to the standards set in the National Building Code when constructing homes.{{more}}

Thompson, who returned to the state on Monday, February 15, 2010, after spending a week in Haiti offering voluntary medical service, explained that there are many lessons to be learnt from the Haiti experience.

Besides the issue of implementing the building code, Thompson believes the onus is on the state to educate its citizens to create depth as well as capacity in the civil service to eliminate literary and literacy challenges.

“I attended a meeting, and at that meeting there were no Haitians there. I must say … it’s either some of them (officials) … died in the collapse of buildings or some were too busy dealing with their own domestic affairs.”

Amidst their plight, Thompson believes Haitians have an ethos of thrift and consumerism. Vincentians can learn a lesson here by becoming more thrifty.

“I think to some extent we have to learn a little about being able to survive on less. There is a global financial crisis on, but you wouldn’t necessarily see that. I think most people here want to continue their lifestyles as it is and expect milk and honey to be flowing as has been, and if there is any change in that, well we know who we always blame,” said Thompson.

In a most graphic and detailed account of his trip, Thompson in a slide show, recounted treating over 80 patients per day, with various types of wounds and breaks which had become infected.

He also said it was heart-wrenching to see children with buckets dipping water from drains for use.

With a population of over nine million, Thompson explained that 80 percent of Haitians are below the poverty line, with 1.2 million left homeless since the January 12 earthquake, and another 240,000 feared dead.

He noted that it will take 1000 trucks to remove rubble 24 hours per day for the next year to clear the ground for reconstruction.

“The experience of seeing the Haitians really strive to come out of this crisis is one that we have to watch and give them every ounce of support.

“I am really hoping that the people of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, knowing the people we are, that we are not going to start up with a sprint and then let this fade into the horizon and into the wilderness,” said Thompson, stating that Haiti will need as much assistance as it can get for years to come.

Thompson expressed that his trip to Haiti during his holidays was one of the most profound, heart-wrenching, yet one of the most sobering experiences in his life.

The minister, who is a medical doctor by training, stated that when he got to Haiti nothing prepared him for what he actually saw.