At least one Bajan descendent was reduced to tears this afternoon at the closing of the second Diasapora Conference, over the connections her family from Cuba had been able to make on coming here for the first time.
Cuban national, Enriqueta Osbourne Ochoa, told the town hall meeting at the closing session that she had been especially grateful for the opportunity to have been part of the conference. She praised Barbados and the help her family had been able to get from Bajan diplomats in Cuba to come to Barbados and to find relatives here, whom they had never met before.
Another delegate from Panama said: “Our group from Panama has been very impressed. There were 13 of us and we were all impressed. The treatment that we have gotten surpassed what we expected and I want to congratulate all the people that had anything to do with the conference. I plan to do, based on things I would have learnt here, much more.”
Noting that she participated in volunteer work, the delegate said she was now more enthused to see what she could do to help the homeland of her family.
Yet another delegate, Pat Sobers-Ferguson the Philadelphia, said she was part of a group that had adopted the St. Lucy District Hospital, noted that they were looking for ways that they could help more as well, but sometimes duties could be prohibitive.
It was at this point that Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Maxine McClean, told the Barbados Networking Consultation that Government would help how it could with those who wanted to give back.
She said: “Let me identify the recommendation that has gone forward. You mentioned the St. Lucy District Hospital, the QEH for example has a policy on giving and receiving contributions. It is important that you signal before you send it, so that in this case, the Ministry of Health can do all the paper work with Customs and with the Ministry of Finance because depending on what it is you should be able with the necessary documentation perhaps to get a waiver.
“So we would recommend before that you do that and what I recommended was that we would look to have policy documented and circularised to missions so people would understand … because there might be a shopping list of priority items in terms of the process by which persons can follow to make it easy because I do not believe that donations should be a difficult process,” McClean said. (LB)