Friday, April 12, 2024

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Morale boosters


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AS THE WORM in the WEEKEND NATION last Friday said, “Jus’ once I would like to hear something to boost my morale”. Actually there were a few things last week that gave me hope that all is not lost.

First there was a poster in an office stating: “Your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come”. While some may interpret this to refer to the after-life, I prefer to use the worldly interpretation like a turnaround in our economy and indeed our lives in another three years or so.

Then there was the launching of the mural at Warrens, the progress of which I’ve been following with admiration over the last few months. It’s truly a work of art and carries a useful environmental message. All those involved – sponsors, designers and those who actually did the work must be congratulated. It goes to show that artisanal skills provide opportunities, not only in construction, but also in art and culture. We must nurture these talents.

The opening of the state-of-the-art Derrick Smith School And Vocational Centre, where adolescents and adults with special needs can learn and develop their skills, restored my confidence in humanity in an era where greed and selfishness are fast becoming the norm. Of course there have been other admirable ventures like the redeveloped Parkinson Community Centre in The Pine and the refurbished Farrs Children’s Home funded by the Maria Holder Trust, to name a few. Philanthropy is alive and well, although it’s alleged that offers of help are not always met with as enabling an environment as one would expect, causing some would-be benefactors to walk away in frustration.

Last Monday, I attended the AGM of Soroptimist International of Barbados (SIB) and was truly inspired by the work this organisation continues to do in the community. SIB aims to  educate, empower and enable opportunities for women in general, but emphasis is placed on two vulnerable groups – the youth and the elderly.

The New Horizons Project provides guidance and information to the girls at the Government Industrial School in areas like further education, job interviews, conflict resolution, careers, etiquette, and sexual and reproductive health.

The School Leavers’ Programme, where resource persons  address fifth formers weekly on relevant topics, has been implemented at two schools. The Purple Teardrop Campaign educates on human trafficking and violence against women.

The Senior Citizens’ Village provides affordable accommodation for seniors and the adjoining Activity Centre offers exercise, craft and pottery classes, island tours and movie days.

At the meeting, honorary life membership was conferred on Mrs Veda Gill, deemed a modest “giant of a woman”. Her achievements are an example to those who complain they don’t have time to do this or that. Mrs Gill demonstrated there’s no shortage of time; it’s what you do with the time that’s important.

She joined SIB in 1972, and has served as chairperson of the hospitality, social, membership and constitution committees,  becoming president in 1990. Under her presidency, construction of the Activity Centre at Eden Lodge was completed and it opened in 1991. Her year was spent spearheading fundraising for the centre.

But apart from her involvement in SIB, Mrs Gill has made a significant contribution to education in Barbados and the Caribbean, especially in home economics. She started her teaching career at Malvern Academy and moved on to St Bernard’s School, the House Craft Centre and West St Joseph until 1961 when she went to England to further her studies. On her return, she worked at the Housecraft Centre, before being appointed home economics/education officer in the Ministry of Education where she remained until retirement in 1988. Back in 1976 she was appointed a member of and later a chief examiner for clothing and textiles on the regional CXC panel which formulated the home economics syllabuses.

She is still very active at the St Augustine Anglican Church where she served on the parochial church council for 18 years and Synod for 14 years; and still serves on the planning and fundraising committee. Incredibly, she still has time to be a member of the Association for the Blind & Deaf and the Travel Circle where she pursues her hobby of travelling.

Examples like these give us courage to persist amidst the trials and tribulations which we suffer daily.

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator. Email


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