University of the West Indies (UWI) Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles, says it was critical for key institutions like the UWI and the West Indies Cricket Board to respond quickly to the ongoing crisis in Dominica.
The two institutions have collaborated to stage the Dominica Relief celebrity charity game at Kensington Oval this Saturday, and Sir Hilary said both he and WICB president, Dave Cameron, thought the fund-raising fixture was the right thing to do under the circumstances.
Dominica was last month devastated by the passage of Tropical Storm Erika which killed over 30 people and left more than US$200 million infrastructural damage.
“We sat over dinner and we worked through the details and these two institutions –– 1928, the WICB and 1948, UWI –– came together to do the right thing which is to assist our people in their hour of need,” Sir Hilary told the media on Sunday.
“You would have heard from the Prime Minister of Dominica, the Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt and he argued that in his judgement, the development agenda of his country has been set back 20 years. This is a very serious realisation.
“The people of Dominica since their independence have worked very hard and diligently to build a nation. Nation building in the Caribbean is always a fragile process and Dominica have done well.”
The game will be played between the WICB President’s XI and the UWI Vice-Chancellor’s Celebrity XI, and will feature the likes of legendary former batsman, Brian Lara, ex-Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and newly appointed Test captain Jason Holder.
Sir Hilary urged the Caribbean to give their moral and financial support to the embattled nation as it sought to recover from the tragedy.
“The devastation to the infrastructure of the country, the devastation to family homes, communities, places of business, schools –– all the institutions that constitute a nation –– have been severely damaged and have crippled the normal operations of the nation of Dominica,” he said.
“This requires a concerted effort and all of us in the world, who envision to see Dominica back on its feet again, functioning with the normal resilience the people of Dominica displayed over the decades [would support this initiative].”
WICB chief executive officer, Michael Muirhead, said the partnership between the WICB and UWI on the project was significant in reiterating the importance of regional unity.
“It is not uncommon for West Indians to come together in times of adversity and support one of [their] own, especially when tragedy has befallen them,” Muirhead said.
“Neither is it uncommon for the WICB and the University of the West Indies to collaborate especially where cricket is involved, although this time the focus is different and cricket is the by-product.
“Both the WICB and the UWI are seen as the last bastions of regionalism, representing fiercely independent nations seeking to reinforce their independence across the world but cognisant of the fact that in unity lies strength.”
Proceeds from the game that starts at 7 p.m. will go towards the Dominica Relief fund. While the match is the cornerstone of the fundraising efforts, the drive also includes a live telethon on match-day by Flow Caribbean, a text-donation drive by Digicel and a further donation initiative to collect clothing and food items, as well as cash deposits.