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Minnis Opens Door To Dominica's Students

Homes lay scattered after the passing of Hurricane Maria in Roseau, the capital of the island of Dominica, Saturday. (AP Photo/Carlisle Jno Baptiste)

Homes lay scattered after the passing of Hurricane Maria in Roseau, the capital of the island of Dominica, Saturday. (AP Photo/Carlisle Jno Baptiste)

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced plans to accommodate students from Dominica displaced by Hurricane Maria, the first step in a series of moves to provide aid to the island nation.

In a press briefing following the departure of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit from Jet Aviation on Sunday, Dr Minnis also urged all Bahamians to display their “caring” nature, calling it “essential” for The Bahamas to do all it could to assist in Dominica’s rebuilding efforts.

Dr Minnis declared that whatever needs to be done will be done as quickly as possible to accommodate as many of the country’s students displaced by the storm here in The Bahamas in both the public and private school systems.

“There would have been a lot of children that were displaced and therefore we are opening our school system to accommodate them,” Dr Minnis said. “Our immigration minister will deal with that matter so that they can be placed within our school system and, of course, I plead to Bahamians, especially with Dominican roots and Bahamians in general, to assist, and even accommodate these individuals in the private schools.”

Dr Minnis added: “I am not sure, (but I think) we have a lot of individuals out there who will assist in accommodating these individuals, both financially and otherwise.

“After all, we are a caring nation and this is our time to display and show that. Then there are a lot of Dominicans here who would also have families there, and, therefore, we will accommodate those individuals also.”

Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Dominica on September 18 as a massive category five storm, ripped through that island nation completely destroying communications, infrastructure and critical facilities.

That night, Dominica’s prime minister, in a Facebook post said even he had to be rescued from his official residence after the powerful storm ripped the roof off his home.

Mr Skerrit has since said the intensive care unit at the island’s main hospital had been destroyed and dialysis machines were down.

“It’s worse than in a war zone,” Mr Skerrit said in a live broadcast from Antigua last Thursday. “Everything has to be manual.”

Mr Skerrit said the hospital’s dialysis machines had to be powered with solar equipment in order to save patients.

Dr Minnis has spoken about the need for the Bahamas to utilise green energy – with plans to rebuild storm ravaged Ragged Island as a green community - and has said the region needs a solar initiative that can be helpful in times of natural disasters when power is knocked out.

On Sunday, Dr Minnis noted the role countries such as Dominica played in the development of the Bahamas following its independence in 1973.

“A lot of people tend to forget that as we were developing and growing as a nation, it was Dominica and some of the other Caribbean nations that helped in our development,” Dr Minnis said.

“The police force was Dominicans; some of the teachers were Dominicans; land and surveys were Dominicans; a lot of the professional groups who helped in our development, Dominicans. So they are part of our society and for all intents and purposes, they are our brothers and sisters.”

He also said: “We have offered assistance via our Defence Force. All of that is done through a network, through CARICOM. We will do all we can to assist because they’ve been devastated and a similar thing could have happened to us. We will help them to (rebuild), to redevelop, to get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

Asked when the country could expect the initial groups of Dominican students in the country, Dr Minnis said the process to enable their arrival had already started.

He said he had already held talks with Immigration Minister Brent Symonette, who has assured him that plans were in motion.

However, he said he had yet to communicate directly with Education Minister Jeffery Lloyd.

On Friday, as a guest on Guardian Radio talk show Real Talk Live with host Carlton Smith, Mr Lloyd said public schools in the country were “bursting at the seams,” implying the public school system could not absorb more students.

Despite these ongoing issues, Dr Minnis said he was certain Mr Lloyd would be able to “ensure that it is done,” referring to the accommodation of Dominican students in Bahamian schools.

For his part, Mr Symonette, on hand for Sunday’s briefing, said: “The prime minister is not sure (of how many students will travel to the Bahamas), but (Dominica) will do its work through CARICOM to establish those lists and we’ll further the list on in a few days.”

In the days following that storm, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed there were three Bahamians living and working in Dominica: two students and a businesswoman.

Dr Minnis on Sunday confirmed that all three of those persons were “safe and sound.”

Addressing the steps those persons should take moving forward, Dr Minnis added: “We have a number of students and Bahamians who live there, those individuals would have called us here for advice on what they should do, they would like to leave, etc.”

He continued: “Our advice to them was the Dominican government will advise them as to what they should do as they would be advising all of their nationals, visitors and guest to their shore. So they are only to follow the direction and the advice of the government, and once they do that they will be safe.”

Comments

baldbeardedbahamian 3 weeks ago

Brilliant. Government sponsored compassion in action. Can we also take a dozen Christian Syrian orphaned refugees as well? What a great example to the world and would gets lots of positive world press coverage with the right publicity.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks ago

There's no room at the inn for such additional compassion. There would of course be room if you and others like you were more supportive of implementing and enforcing government policies that would deter our illegal immigration problem and at the same time incentivize Haiti to take back the illegal Haitian immigrants in our country, including their 'illegal' children born here in the Bahamas.

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DonAnthony 3 weeks ago

Absolutely wonderful, made my day to know that in a meaningful way we can help our neighbors. But for a slight deviation in the hurricane’s path we could have been the ones in need, we should never forget that.

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tell_it_like_it_is 3 weeks ago

I'm sorry but I think this is quite strange. Like I said in a previous post about the Ministry of Education's policies against allowing Haitians already living here to get an education is a bad idea (idle hands are the devil's workshop). How are you going to allow Dominican's to come to school here but block Haitians? Is one group better than the other? Didn't God make us all equal. (Yea and before all the cut-throats start preaching, I am well aware of one group being illegal - but it still seems like a double standard to me, especially since they Already Live Here!)

I believe we need to get our finances in order and get out of DEBT before over extending ourselves. Why not organize donations and contributions from all these millionaires lounging around in The Bahamas? For that matter, any private citizen who wants to donate, you can help to organize that. But this is just asking for problems... I can see the backlash coming... (okay, now please express your disagreement if you do, without the immature display of verbal attacks - it's just a suggestion though).

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks ago

You're wrongfully conflating a temporary controlled situation (the children from Dominica) with a decades old out-of-control Haitian illegal immigrant problem whereby children are being born in the Bahamas to Haitian illegal immigrants at an astonishingly high birth rate.

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tell_it_like_it_is 3 weeks ago

You're assuming they're just going to automatically return home right?

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tell_it_like_it_is 3 weeks ago

Well_mudda I always find it hilarious that bloggers think we are the same person. Many of the things you post I don't agree with, but I certainly don't believe in personal attacks. There have been a few times we agree but it doesn't seem to be that often.
Maybe because we both use "underscores" in our blog name. Readers truly lack imagination and that's the truly funny part. Rofl

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Emac 3 weeks ago

Ahhh...the difference is that the Dominicans are invited. I, along with most Bahamians do not have an issue with legal Haitians who contribute to our society being here. No hatred for Haitians here, just can't stand people who take advantage of others niceness.

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realfreethinker 3 weeks ago

well_mudda you are actually answering yourself in this post. We all know we--_mudda,tell_it are the same person. you aint fooling no one here LOLOLOL Too funny

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks ago

BOL....I prefer being labelled as Bran McCartney.

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jackbnimble 3 weeks ago

I encourage you to READ the policy carefully again before advancing an opinion. I do believe that it says that whether they are here legally or not, they are to obtain a permit first from the Department of Immigration in order to register their child/children in school. The problem lies with the fact that they DO NOT want to obtain the permit because the parents are here ILLEGALLY and do not want to get papers (including a valid passport) for their child. The policy is clearly NOT preventing them from attending school, it just says get a permit first even if you are the child of an illegal.

For too long, the illegals have just been prancing up our schools, anchor baby in tow, and just putting the child in the system with no proper record or accountability. The policy ended that and those who are up on arms about it or refuse to abide by the policy are clearly the ones who support the slackness and secretly support illegal migration.

In my opinion, it has to end.

Dominica, on the other hand, has just been wiped out by a hurricane. I have visited this island and it appeared to be impoverished even before the hurricane, so I can only imagine what it looks like know.

I commend the PM for reaching out. I'm sure these students will be given the proper visas and will not be coming into our country illegally demanding service and benefits, but will come through the proper channels and at our expressed invitation. There is no argument that can be advanced for anyone who does it the opposite way.

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TalRussell 3 weeks ago

Comrades! Which of the two versions of this red regime's 'to reach out to lend help or not help' our Caribbean neighbours is the true face this red shirts government?
Prime Minister Minnis, and his Immigration Minister Brent's extended welcoming arms to the Dominicans is in total contrast to that of the other Minister who uttered that....... “As SAD as it may seem” that the hurricane wreaked havoc on other popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, Bahamaland's Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said that the storm’s devastation “creates opportunities for the Bahamaland” to attract the tourists that would have opted for those destinations.

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Emac 3 weeks ago

This is the right thing to do! Besides from us calling ourselves a Christian nation, it is also incumbent for Caribbean countries to pull together, especially in times of natural disasters!

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realfreethinker 3 weeks ago

I would like to see the details of how it is structured before I comment

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sheeprunner12 3 weeks ago

Most government schools in the Family Islands have half empty classrooms (low student:teacher ratios) ........ Is Minnis planning to fill them up to 35:1 as in Nassau????? ..... smdh

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TalRussell 3 weeks ago

Comrades! The residents of Freeport and Grand Bahama are still waiting for Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette and Minister Finance KP, to announce plans to send some aid to accommodate the economically displaced peoples of Freeport and Grand Bahama - going back from three hurricanes.
The public treasury's sending off $200 million in aid to prop up Freeport's foreigner owners corporation, is not exactly sending aid to the residents of Freeport and Grand Bahama. Now, is it?

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TalRussell 3 weeks ago

Comrades! Hello! I'm not sure how much that Christian thing we have left?
Apparently, we have also lost our 'Bahamalander thing' mind's, and forgotten that the hurricane battered the hell out the Turks and Caicos Islands with winds of up to 125 causing extensive damage?

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SP 3 weeks ago

TAL ...A squeaking wheel gets the grease!

I am confident our brothers and sisters in the Turks and Caicos Islands who have always been overwhelmingly welcomed to the Bahamas are more aware than any other country in the region that the Bahamas can be counted on in times of need.

However, your question does raise an interesting question of equal importance. The Bahamas is now also forced to take special note of what happens when a country inundated with illegal immigrants is struck by natural disasters!

What happens with illegal immigrants should a similar disaster strike the Bahamas? Who pays to house, feed, secure and cloth them? Could the Haitian government be counted on to come to the aid of its illegal citizens resident on foreign soil?

My guess is Turks and Caicos would have found the difficult situation it now finds itself in much more manageable WITHOUT the added responsibility of illegal immigrants.

The Bahamas had better wake up and smell the coffee with our illegal immigrant problem before we find ourselves in the very same difficult position Turks and Caicos now find itself!

Extending a helping hand to displaced Dominicans legally invited to our country is one thing. However, being forced to support illegal Haitian migrants after a disaster is anudder ting all together!

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SP 3 weeks ago

PRIME Minister Sheriff Dr. Hubert Minnis announced plans to accommodate students from Dominica displaced by Hurricane Maria as the first step in a series of moves to provide aid to the island nation is unquestionably the right thing to do!

Unlike illegal Haitian migrants that sneak into our country and become unwelcomed parasites and an unmanageable threat to national security, displaced Dominican students and adults are "legal invited guest with open arms" to our country.

The vast majority of Bahamians have no problem helping our Commonwealth brothers and sisters in their greatest hour of need to "lawfully migrate" to our country for as long as need be and willingly put our hands in our pockets to assist these people as best we could.

Puerto Rico although in a dire fiscal position themselves, set a fine example after hurricane Irma by reaching out with the little they had to assist sister Island nations and the Bahamas should emulate them by doing all we can to assist hurricane-ravaged sister Commonwealth countries.

PM Sheriff Minnis is to be wholeheartedly applauded and supported for this initiative.

We, as a people should be extremely grateful for having being spared the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria, and surely must easily appreciate what happened to Dominicans could well have happened to Bahamians and the shoe could have been on the other foot!

I welcome ALL Dominicans and hope they find solace in the Bahamas during this very difficult time.

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ThisIsOurs 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Lol lol I understand Belinda Wilson Head of the TEACHERS union said the main issue her TEACHERS are concerned with is the "language barrier". ROTFL. I say please please bring the Dominican teachers in, at least they'll be up on their Caribbean geography. LOL.

What kind of teachers are these asking Ms Wilson about language barrier from Dominica????

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ohdrap4 2 weeks, 6 days ago

She mussy does not speak English, therefore a barrier.

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SP 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Dominica grieving: Life after Hurricane Maria....These people need help!

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41394645

PM Sheriff Minnis should also seriously consider a win-win proposition to extend support to displaced Dominican agriculturalist who has been totally wiped out to BAMSI. Dominicans developed a thriving export market.

Dominican major exports include coconuts, bananas, soap, bay oil, vegetables, grapefruit, and oranges. All of which can be focused on for local consumption and international markets.

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