TWO TT students at the UWI Cave Hill campus, Barbados, have distanced themselves from statements made by one of their colleagues who said students were feeling abandoned by the government.
Over the weekend, before National Security Minister Stuart Young said the borders would be opened to allow in university students from Jamaica and Barbados, one of the students, Shantal Seecharan, made the statement in a local television interview.
Seecharan said at least 20 of the 68 students desperately wanted to come home but were not being heard. She said the US$300 given to each student could not last indefinitely. However, two Cave Hill students, Teriq Webb and Jochelle Lootawan, took to Facebook to deny Seecharan was speaking on their behalf.
Webb, a medical student, said he is a proud citizen of TT and was grateful to the government for the financial assistance and its efforts to stop the spread of the covid19 pandemic. “I wish to commend the Government on all their efforts to flatten the curve of the coronavirus in order to keep our citizens at home safe.
“I can only speak on behalf of myself, I am eternally grateful for the aid which we received and I do not stand by the statements that were recently made in the news report regarding feeling neglected by our Government. In my opinion, we were seen and treated as a top priority and I wish to say again, thank you very much.”
He urged people to stay safe, “as we continue to “weather the storm because the fight is not yet over. United we stand, divided we fall.” Lootawan, one of the students who reached out to Young and the government for special exemption to fly home, said she too was speaking on her own behalf, “and no one else’s.”
Like Webb, she said she was grateful for the generosity extended to her as the money was handy for buying food while away from home. Lootawan said while she wants to return home, she understands that there are measures that have to be put in place to ensure the safety of everyone.
She also expressed gratitude to the government, “for all the hard work and due diligence that you are putting into dealing with the covid19 pandemic. “I do not in any way feel like the government of TT has abandoned us or left us unheard.”
Young said on Monday that exemptions will be made for students from the two campuses to return home. He said the students will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in Barbados and Jamaica before leaving there and a further 14 days when they return to TT.
He also denied that government had abandoned nationals, including those on cruise ships, wanting to return home. He said it was carefully managing the situation based on advice from and consultation with public health experts.