I share an alternative perspective to the negative reactions to the humanitarian appeal to citizens of TT to tangibly and personally contribute to the post-disaster emergency response in Dominica, in particular welcoming some into our homes.
As an inhabitant of planet earth, by accident of colonial history, I happened to be born in TT, direct descendant of the two major ethnic streams constituting our population. That I am a citizen of this country, I owe to the vagaries of fate! The fundamental is that I am a human being. The rest is happenstance.
Growing up in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural, plural community of Princes Town in the 1950s, I understood that some had more than others. But the concept of a divisive inequality did not quite resonate. Sharing whatever was available was part of the common village culture.
I attended the University of the West Indies in the early 1960’s, reading for a BSc in Agriculture. But I graduated with much more than an understanding of the science of agriculture. The exposure to and interaction with fellow students across the Caribbean honed an illuminating “West Indianness,” now firmly etched into my very being.
In the same way a social calculus based on ethnicity is alien to my way of thinking; so too, I cannot apply the “them and us” paradigm to much of the analysis relating to affairs which impact TT and our Caribbean sister states.
In my professional life, I have worked in post-disaster emergency situations and in post-conflict resettlement of internally displaced persons globally. I have seen, and been affected, by desperation, borne of need – parents who would do anything to secure a morsel for hungry children. I have seen prime ministers having to forgo their dignity and bathe in the river after a disastrous hurricane.
No country in this world is without pockets of poverty and need – not USA, Germany, Japan, China, India, South Africa, Nigeria or Bangladesh! That does not argue the case for their not reaching out, sharing and helping in times of need. There is always space for another plate at the table! In a democracy, each is entitled to express her/his opinion! The exhortation to: “Close Your Homes!” I deem nothing less than an act of xenophobia. It is no different from the position taken by many countries and their citizens against the Rohingyas, the Syrian refugees and displaced people the world over!
Close YOUR home if you will, that’s your choice! As a fellow inhabitant of planet earth, I applaud the national appeal to open OUR homes, if we can. The aftermath of the disaster in Dominica has exposed a human tragedy of vast proportions that requires the determined collective response of all Caribbean people. “It is a crisis of solidarity, not a crisis of numbers.”
Winston R Rudder