Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dominicans united in making a difference

Dominicans at home and abroad are on a mission, putting aside any differences and joining hands like never before for their country. Call 206 333-7872 to express yourself.

Here’s how you can add your energy today to the movement for change in Dominican. The Dominica Unity and Progress Group is putting online the voices of Dominicans who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe.

The more people who speak up, the more clout we have to get things done. Remember, there may be someone out there who might only be convinced by hearing your voice and nobody else’s. They will take courage knowing that you too are taking a stand.

To keep this momentum going costs you little. We need your ideas. We need your input. No one person can have all the answers and you may have unique experiences that bother you that nobody else has heard before.

For example:
I went to mail a letter at the post office in Roseau. I joined the line of about half a dozen people. Not far behind in the counter, there was a heavy-set woman with streaks of gray hair abusing a co-worker loudly in the foulest language imaginable.

The clerk attending to us kept doing her job at her same casual pace as if nothing was going on. That postal worker kept pouring out her abuse as if the public was not there. I went to front of the line and asked the clerk why she’s not telling the worker to stop.

She’d just shrugged and said "Is so she is." I demanded to speak to her supervisor.
“She not there, nuh.” As she continued selling stamps.

I felt so embarrassed! I didn’t know who in the line were visitors. I raised my voice and said “Excuse me Ma’am, this is a government office. Watch your language!”
The woman just looked at me for a mere second.

She didn’t even acknowledge me and just returned to her vicious argument with her co-worker, who was hardly saying anything. I got really mad and felt like making a citizen’s arrest or at least get this woman out of the building.

I thought of calling the police. Of course you know what I’m thinking…In the end I just got my stamps and left. Maybe I should have just minded my own business but still I was boiling inside - shocked at the level of crudeness that we would never see when I was growing up.

Ok, here's another one:

At Whitchurch Supermarket a scantily dressed, drunk, rough-looking woman was begging aggressively as each customer set foot out of the glass doors. Her language and appearance was just plain nasty.

People gave just to get her out of their faces. To complete the scenery, there was a homeless man passed out a few feet away, sprawled like a lifeless body on the sidewalk covered with flies and stench.

Anyway, I asked the police officer who was standing there why he was not ordering this woman to leave. He said “Even if we tell them, they just come right back so once they don’t come inside the building there’s nothing I can do.”

Don’t get me started. Again, I’m not looking down on or giving up on my country. In fact I have high hopes for Dominica. Can you tell? I'm not naive. I’m just saying certain things are unacceptable and with your help we’re going to change that.

Development is not just about more factories and jobs and big roads and big buildings. And let us not be sidetracked with ideology and party but believe me, we're going to start from the top. Yesterday's communist is the biggest capitalist and vice versa so don't risk dying for anybody's cause.

Rather, plan to live for noble ideals that we were brought up on. If we do not change the world it will change us. Now, I’m not going to put all that negative stuff in my voice message, but these are just a couple instances that really saddened me about what Dominican culture has become today.

Instead, I’d simply say something to-the-point like:
“I’d like to see Dominicans show more courtesy and respect in public. I would like to see the government do something about all that begging.

It’s one thing if someone's trying hard to sell their craft, you know what I mean, but to have someone hounding you is threatening. That takes away the enjoyment of your visit.”

Remember, the magic is not so much in what I say, just the fact that I'm identifying myself and making a statement. Together with so many others, it will become a mighty chorus for change in Dominica.

Now, it's time for you to say your piece. Call 206 333-7872 to do your part.
You will be instructed to leave your message, starting with your name, where you’re from. You may want to say where you live now and tell us a little bit about yourself - if it’s more than a minute, you can just call back to finish.

You will be instructed to express yourself clearly about the situation in Dominica, to share your dreams and aspirations and exactly what kind of changes YOU would like to see in our beloved country.

You may even want to give a quick shout-out to encourage some friend, group, village or community telling them we need their help and that they too should speak up.
I'm very pleased with the progress we're making.

I appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to read this far. Now just a couple more easy steps: Write down your thoughts, practice what you’re going to say and be aware of the time.

Then call at your convenience and privacy. You'll not be speaking with anyone, just recording your opinion and thoughts directly into the machine. Remember to be respectful and constructive, saying exactly what changes you want to see in our country.

Please forward this email to every Dominican you know. We’re going to use technology to make a difference. Feel free to suggest any other ideas you have. Then write me at [email protected] to let me know that you left your message.

I will email you in a few days with instructions about when and where all our VOICE-OF-THE-PEOPLE audio messages will appear together. I'll also put the information on the DAAS, and DD (Dominica Diaspora).
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