We exist in a time when many businesses are crunching numbers in the effort to maintain profit margins and remain viable. Hundreds of Barbadians are also forced to be more parsimonious than they would normally be because of the economic situation that prevails. Thus, persons at the receiving end of any demonstration of pecuniary generosity ought to be very appreciative.
There are several individuals and enterprises – large and small – who over the past decade or more have donated to a number of causes that have benefitted both young and elderly Barbadians, some with physical and mental impediments, some homeless or otherwise destitute. These generous donors are to commended,
However, one recent demonstration of civic mindedness and generosity has occasioned more than fleeting interest. From the outset let us sincerely congratulate the Royal Barbados Police Force and Prince’s Trust International, a registered charitable organisation in England and Wales, for the significant role they played in restoring the play park at St Silas Primary School, Orange Hill, St James. It was recently reopened for the little children at the school after being out of operation for ten years. At the reopening ceremony just over a week ago, principal Sharon Sealy said she was excited when participants in the programme chose St Silas as the place where they wanted to carry out their community project.
She said that for the past ten years, the school made several attempts to reopen the facility so the 143 students would have somewhere to play but without success.
“But finances was against us. So this opportunity was one we grabbed with both arms because the children wanted it and they were asking all the time ‘ma’am when are we going to get the play park fixed that we can get into it. Now we have a brand new play park by the efforts of the young people and that makes it even more special,” Sealy said at the reopening ceremony.
Team coordinator for the Prince’s Trust International Programme, Sergeant Hallam Jemmott said the participants raised $1000 through a fundraising effort and this was added to donations made by business places and individuals for the project that was just over BDS$3 000. Three thousand dollars! And this is where we have an issue.
These are our nation’s four to 11 year-old children at an institution where space is at a premium, especially recreational space. And the only area where children can frolic and have healthy fun has remained closed for ten years. And to add incredulity to that ten-year time span, it cost in the region of $3 000 to have the play park reopened. Undoubtedly, as expenses go, it would have likely cost less if it had been reopened a few years earlier. The school’s principal admitted that efforts had been made to reopen it previously without success due to financial constraints.
But we submit that the community in which this school is located had a parliamentary representative sitting in the House of Assembly when the play park was initially closed and for the ten years that it remained closed. We also submit that the government in existence during the period of its closure cannot disavow knowledge of that closure. In a situation where primary school children have no place to play and exercise safely, the sum of $3 000 ought to have been sourced within central government, the private sector, or somewhere to facilitate a recreational area for these children. Three thousand dollars!
The annual Auditor General Report reveals the level of financial wastage and chicanery that exists in this country. We are aware of the largesse that legally falls into the pockets of many state consultants for often doing little more than being political mites. We are aware of the levels of money raised for myriad reasons that pale in comparison to providing for our children. But for ten years a school had no place for its children to play and it took the princely sum of $3 000 to end that wait. The parliamentary representative for the area as well as the political directorate during the period of the play park’s closure should be hanging their collective heads in shame.
Our economic situation might have been tough over the past ten years, but surely not bankrupt tough. Our children should always be treated as priorities
Again, we congratulate the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Prince’s Trust International Programme for their efforts in enhancing the play and laughter of the little ones at St Silas Primary.