Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Ernest Hilaire, joined Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning and Social Security, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, on a recent visit to Comfort Bay Senior Citizens’ Home.
The visit was occasioned by a donation of £10,000 being handed over to the Prime Minister for onward presentation to the residence for the elderly, located in Black Bay. The amount was raised by the Saint Lucia High Commission after its Gala Dinner and awards night last June. The black-tie affair was attended by Saint Lucian nationals resident in the United Kingdom, diplomats, British government officials, investors, tourism representatives and High Commission staff.
Ambassador Hilaire pointed out that due to the identity of the special guest at the gala dinner, an extraordinary amount of money was donated by those in attendance. Upon handing the cheque over to the Prime Minister, in the presence of Comfort Bay manager, Mrs. Gertrude Gustave, and members of staff at the Home, Dr. Hilaire outlined the genesis of the donation.
“We discussed [with the Prime Minister] the identification of a charity, of an event, or any special cause that he felt was dear to his heart that he would want us to contribute funds raised from that gala dinner, as his show of support for that initiative. He suggested to us that we should contribute whatever monies we make to the Comfort Bay Senior Citizens’ Home. And I think in many ways, it was a statement of his own acceptance of the importance of the role that you play in the south of the island, and of course, his own view of the importance of care for the elderly in Saint Lucia.”
In receiving the cheque, Dr. Anthony thanked the Saint Lucian community in London for their generosity. He noted that the monies would be deposited in the Consolidated Fund, with special instructions that it is earmarked for the use of Comfort Bay. Speaking on the eve of his birthday, the Prime Minister pointed out the importance of the work being done by institutions like Comfort Bay. The staff in particular came in for fulsome praise, Dr. Anthony saying to them that their work “is really a labour of love.” He reminded his audience that caring for the elderly, a priority for his Government, is the shared responsibility of the state and the wider society. In that regard, he said, the recently implemented home care programme for the aged has been a real boon.
“We have always needed a link between what it is you do here [at Comfort Bay] and what is happening in the homes. And I hope that now that this home care programme has been fully established in our communities, we can have a better sense of exactly who are the ones who are very vulnerable. But at the same time, providing that home care programme, [we know] that those who are beneficiaries of that programme would feel they are now being looked after, they are not left on their own, they are no longer desolate and cast aside.
“There is one thing about Saint Lucia we must never ever forget; we may have our own issues, but we are a loving and compassionate society. Sometimes we don’t know what our responsibilities are, we forget those responsibilities, because we allow the temper of the times to take hold of us. But we must never ever forget the foundations that exist, and we must never ever ever forget that the binds of love that bind us together must be respected and appreciated. And we must never ever disown the historical responsibility that truly belongs to us.
“You are very special people with a special responsibility and I certainly appreciate what you do, the commitment and love that you share so freely with those who are given the opportunity to make here their home.”
Mrs. Gustave said that the donation, equal to just over EC$40,000, would go towards expanding the scope of services available at the Home, including the purchase of exercise equipment, and to facilitate training in physiotherapy for the staff. She also took the opportunity to thank the Prime Minister, the High Commission, and all who contributed.