How does it feel when you’ve been patriotic and an ambassador to your country and don’t get a heroes’ welcome upon your return?
It is a crime to betray your country, treason I believe, but what is it called when your country betrays you? After the war in Iraq many of the soldiers who returned home were dissatisfied, probably because they felt that they did not get their heroes’ welcome.
Many committed suicide, many are institutionalized in psychiatric and correctional facilities and some even killed their wives and kids. So you tell me, which one of those I should consider after you read my story.
It all began back in 2006 when the government of St Lucia advertised an opportunity to further your education, i.e. undergo a nursing program in Cuba, one of the best rated countries in the world when it comes to medicine. As the positivist I’ve always been I saw this as a great opportunity to gain some social mobility and prestige in society at a time when I was only nineteen. Working as a light machines operator at a factory gaining a salary of sixty five dollars daily plus overtime I was still dissatisfied because I attended one of the best secondary schools on the island and graduated with enough GCE’S and still pursued a course at the island’s only tertiary institution at the time. So I hopped aboard that Cuba train and I must say that the ride was not what I expected nor was it an easy one.
Being promised a scholarship and a stipend which was never received I was forced to take a student loan to facilitate my vacations and other costs of studying, something that has become a burden today because I am unemployed. The program was a signed contract for three years to prepare nurses for the two new hospitals that were being built on the island, however at the end of these three years the frustrations of many which were already heightened skyrocketed when they were told that they had to do another two years. This didn’t seem to pay off too well for me because I’m still not licensed and there was such a controversy over the reward by other members of my profession.
At a time when the island was supposed to welcome some one hundred odd nurses with their degrees who were excellent patriots and great ambassadors to their country, proven by increased arrivals to our island by Cuban visitors, knowing that the island is heavily dependent on tourism, I must say they should have been thankful. But they weren’t. I was denied a return flight that was promised when I graduated in July and left Cuba in September some two months later as frustrated as can be. When I thought the hardship, trials and struggles were over, the sad reality was that they had only just begun.
I was forced to work as an intern, which I had no problem with since it’s the traditional way of things. The only difference was that this internship was unlike any other. Getting a salary of one thousand dollars, on which two hundred dollars was deducted from every month for the return flight, meaning eight hundred dollars for the same twenty days of work as a registered nurse or forty dollars a day with all the risks of the hospital environment attached, which to me sounds pretty much like the minimum wage of this country. So is it injustice, disrespect or perhaps you have a better name for it but why should these excellent, brave and courageous patriots have to return home to this welcome after having invested six years of their lives into this? Many left their jobs, families, and their wives and kids at home, some lost their companions in the process… for what?
Analyze carefully what you are about to read and maybe you might just feel my bitterness. I personally believe that all the bitterness and controversy surrounding me at a time where I had to undergo the regional examination to gain a license to practice nursing in a country where I did not study, for an the exam that was new to me since in all my schooling I was not trained to undergo this format of examination, certainly decided the outcome. But I still believe that had my country issued me a provisional license like the one other CARICOM member states issued their nurses who participated in the very same program and like the one that is granted to foreign nationals wishing to practice here that I was denied, thus forcing me to try the exam at a time that I was confident that I was unable to succeed but due to economical harshness had to try, and failed of course like many others. It sounds to me like we were conspired against from the time the contract was deemed null and void and we had to sign an additional one, which we thought would set us free but now realize it was only meant to enslave, since this exam was the masterpiece of that conspiracy. Though I do not have the resources to look into and uncover this conspiracy and still did not want to be the one to mention it, this is the word on the street.
I expect that my words will fall upon your ears but I just hope that you will be listening, because I will be expecting a solution to my dilemma, which I believe that I didn’t bring upon myself. So which one will it be… should I kill myself? Should I kill my wife
and my kids? Should I kill those I think are responsible for my mess and get institutionalized? Or should I wait for your solution to the problem? I’m particularly interested in the latter two. The clock is ticking and oh boy, how I love my democracy.
Editor’s note: Author’s name has been changed