|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 89 - Monday January 29, 2007
|More on Dominicans Bad Mouthing Dominica |
I have just read your piece on overseas Domincans bad mouthing Dominica. I agree with what you wrote. I have met a few of them.
Dominica is portrayed as a barren place, some backwater alley, relegated, as you say, to the dustbin of history. One visiting overseas lady described Dominica in a meeting with the Cabinet as being squalid.
Now, there may be areas inhabited by people that are not pleasing to the eyes, but is the whole island squalid? During the Christmas holiday of 2005, I met a young Dominican woman (in her thirties, I believe) in New Jersey.
She said she would not return to Dominica. She does not even want to stay on the island for more than two weeks. Her tone was dismissive of Dominica.
There are overseas Dominicans doing jobs in their present host countries that they won't do at all in Dominica. Some of them even live in worse conditions than they did in Dominica. How is Dominica to develop if all of us, especially the brightest and the most creative, exile ourselves from the island and the rest of its people, yet expect Dominica to be a shining city on the hill when they visit.
These are people who simply do not understand development. All they know is the convenience to which they are accustomed to the United States and Canada. They do not find the same in Dominica so they dismiss the country as backward, retarded, and insular without contributing meaningfully.
Periodically sending home a barrel and a few dollars to help auntie and Mamie pay their routine expenses are not answers to Dominica’s development challenge.
When I was coming to the U.S to begin my studies, I met a woman of 70 plus years from Castle Bruce who was traveling to the United States for the first time and she was on her own.
She was totally at sea. And worse, American Airlines and U.S Immigration were adding to the confusion and helplessness by causing us to miss a connecting flight from Puerto Rico.
Why was she coming to the United States? Against her inclination, her daughter persuaded her to come over to be a permanent resident of the U.S since it would be easier to file for the rest of the family back home in Dominica.
She related to me that she is a farmer who enjoyed farming and was set in a routine of arising early to go to the farm and traveling to vend her produce in the capital every Saturday. Now, this was being disrupted without any enthusiasm on her part.
She was reluctant to live in the USA. What was she going to do in the U.S? She is in her seventies. In Dominica, you had a productive woman who was comfortable with her life and contributing to the survival of the agricultural sector, which is in decline.
Now she was being uprooted to come to the U.S, and would have to live a life of just sitting down at her daughter’s home.
The point I take from this is that material convenience is not the sum of life, and the need for us to take into account the tradeoffs that are involved in moving our whole families to Convenience (USA) Inc.
My own policy recommendation is for the government of Dominica to consider inviting Haitians to come to work in Dominica, especially as agricultural laborers. A program of settling them on abandoned lands, which they cultivate, can be financed with EU funds under a rubric Economic Diversification Program.
This recommendation is in view of the need to have a critical mass to sustain economic activities. The Haitians will be eligible for citizenship after a few years. In this regard, I welcome the citizenship status recently conferred on about 100 Haitians. (I think it is citizenship. The media reported regularization, leaving us to guess for ourselves the content of this word).