Editorial: And can it be?

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Can it be that Barbuda is on its way back, despite the best efforts of the central government to thwart progress and a meaningful recovery effort for ordinary Barbudans?

Proof positives of the government’s malingering can be found in the dilapidated conditions at the Hannah Thomas Hospital and the devastation and lack of caring at the National Office of Disaster Services building (NODS).

Say what? NODS is a mess? Sadly, it is true. Yes, the building housing the very body that was charged with the rebuilding effort was full of stinking garbage, building material strewn around, a collapsing ceiling and broken doors. The yard was like an earthquake disaster zone with a broken fence, and plywood, lumber and galvanize all over the place. The surroundings were eerily quiet and it reminded us of an abandoned city in the wild west. It was indeed a shocking and revealing metaphor for the unmitigated disaster that the Office of Disaster Services heaped upon Barbuda. The Office of Disaster Services was itself a disaster.

And it appears as though officialdom wanted it so. How else can one explain the dreadful inertia at the Holy Trinity School? And the slow-motion repairs at the police station? And the criminal failure to repair the post office? And (gasp!) the inhumanity of it all, to wit the deplorable conditions – little or nothing repaired – at the Hannah Thomas Hospital? The Angels weep!

Which beg the obvious questions, and even angels are folding their wings askance at these: what happened to the millions of dollaars ponied up by international and local donors for the Barbuda recovery effort? We have heard a number of excuses and explanations, none of them credible. What happened to a proper report of the monies received and disbursed? Again, yes, you guessed it, a plethora of excuses and none of them passed muster.

Most government buildings and offices are in a sad state of disrepair, and many of the Barbudan homes are being repaired or have already been repaired. Why is this so?

Interestingly, permit us to digress a bit. The Barbudans have some of the most beautiful homes and cottages to be found anywhere. They are mostly of concrete with reinforced roofs and roof support (hurricane-hardened) and very tastefully laid out and appointed. Seems they have come together in a big way to helping each other and doing it all for themselves.

Several persons told our reporters that for every 10 homes that have been repaired, eight were done by the Barbudans themselves in collaboration with the Samaritan’s Purse and other charitable agencies.

What a low-down dirty shame! History will most definitely not be kind to a central government that stealthily shipped in heavy equipment and worked with feverish and manic haste into the wee hours of the night to clear the precious Barbudan forest and make way for the new international airport. With little or no consultations mind you, and apparently little or no Environmental Impact Assessment (real ones, at that).

The fallow deer were displaced, as were turtles, wild pigs, and dozens of other wildlife. It was brutal. This writer has never seen the gigantic heavy equipment that was deployed in Barbuda anywhere in Antigua

And so it went: an international airport being built in Barbuda for rich, powerful, foreign interests, while the poor people of Barbuda were left to scratch and scrunt to survive. What kind of government does that to its own people? Not to mention the frequent reference to our Barbudan brothers and sisters in the diminutive and the awful insults.

But this thing called ‘karma’ is a word that rhymes with ‘witch’ and it is a helluva thing! Apparently, Bahamas Hot Mix (some say Bahamas Hot Mess) has pulled up stakes and hightailed it out of Barbuda. Apparently, the geniuses who gave the green light to build the new airport failed to take into account the labyrinth of caves beneath the surface. A great deal of Barbuda is made mostly of limestone and ‘neath much of the surface lies scores of caves and vast water catchment. These have given rise to many wells which provided Barbudans with water for centuries. Of course, many old-timers in Codrington are wagging their heads and saying, “We could have told you so!”  

Meanwhile much like the famed Phoenix, Barbuda is rising from the ashes. Again, despite this central government. True, there are still a number of persons living in tents and true many are still without electricity in some areas, but Barbuda is coming back. This is a testament to her sense of community and kinship and her resilience and fortitude. She took a direct hit from Mother Nature and a dastardly blow below the belt from the worst in Mankind, but she is still standing. We salute her!

Of course, we wish to thank the Barbudans for being most kind and gracious to our NEWSCO Council election team. Your hospitality humbled us. May you continue to go from strength to strength. ”May the sun shine full on your faces and may the rain fall fast on your fields.”  May God’s choicest blessings ever fall on our dearly beloved sister isle of Barbuda. Yes, it can be; and yes, the Barbudans can.

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