A more “determined” and “focused” Dr Maria Agard is back.
The embattled Member of Parliament for Christ Church West returned to work today following a two-month leave of absence from the House of Assembly due to an unspecified illness which has kept her away from her constituency since the start of the year.
Dr Agard was hospitalized twice in January – once for “life-saving” surgery, followed a week later for a medical setback.
However, speaking to Barbados TODAY during the lunch break at today’s sitting of the House of Assembly, an emotional but upbeat Dr Agard said she was touched by the outpouring of support from Barbadians during her period of recovery.
“This morning I woke up feeling alive and well and I would say that in spite of the challenges that I have encountered, God continues to be good to me and to give me his favour. So my recovery has been progressing well. I am really very happy to be here again, alive and well.
“I was heartened during my convalescence by the number of people who prayed for me, who sent me well wishes. Even now people I don’t know stop me and tell me that they wish me well. I was particularly heartened by the children who took time out to send me get-well cards. I want them to know that I really appreciated their thoughtfulness and sensitivity toward my illness,” she said.
“I have had school children just sending me postcards. I went back to work and there they were. I was really moved by that.”
The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) expelled Dr Agard on November 22, 2015, citing public utterances deemed harmful to the party and her alleged refusal to acknowledge and work with her constituency branch executive. She later sued the BLP, seeking damages for expelling her. That matter is expected to be heard next month.
Last month, Dr Agard’s predecessor in Christ Church West Dr William Duguid announced he was returning to elective politics and would seek the nomination as the BLP’s candidate in the next general election.
Dr Agard today declined to comment on this development, preferring instead to speak about her commitment “to serving my country and my constituents as I have ever been”.
“I am undaunted by illness. I consider it really and truly to be a minor inconvenience. Of course I can say that now that I am recovering well, but I consider it to be a minor inconvenience. And I will not ever allow illness to take me away from the things I am very passionate about. And the things I am passionate about I will work hard to achieve those goals. And I will be even more determined and more focused than ever. I am committed to my country and I am committed to my constituents and there is nothing that will stop me from fulfilling those commitments,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“With respect to my constituents, they have followed my recovery and I know that they continue to pray for me even now. They are looking out for my well-being. Someone said to me yesterday, ‘there are people who just love you’. And I am happy. I am very, very happy about that,” she said, adding that even during her illness she was still able to contribute to a number of projects “in a substantive way”.
She also had a message to all Barbadians, urging them to unite for the good of the country as Barbados celebrates 50 years of political independence.
“For those of us who love this country, let us work together for the best of Barbados to make this jubilee year a year of favour for this country and all Barbadians. I want to thank you for your well wishes and looking out for me. And I want to assure you that I am well on the way to recovery, always committed to Barbados and Barbadians,” she said.