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Ordinary people as moving spirits – making things happen

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Editor: In every community there are people who bear testimony to the strength of the human spirit. They act selflessly, inspire and motivate others and ask for nothing in return. Such was sister Pat Douglas who lost her life on 20th May in a road accident in Barbados.

Sister was dedicated to the under privileged, and sought to enable them to uplift themselves through providing them with love, shelter and education. {{more}}

She saw the ultimate price we could pay to God is to make the most of our potential, to develop our talents and to excel in whatever way we can on this earth. Deeply religious she was, but she insisted that a measure of her students’ servitude to God was not the number of hours spent in church but the time spent in disciplined study hours, learning and developing their God-given talents, working on group projects and community service.

Quite often people who have a vision work alone and are isolated in communities, finding it difficult to motivate others who become dependent on them and drain their energy. But Sister Pat had a gift of bringing people together in supportive networks to work on a common goal, like the staff at St. Joseph’s convent, the group of parents who built the school basketball court at school, and the Denniston Thomas Foundation who are continuing with renewed dedication the work she started for giving refuge to abused and needy children.

The fact that the work she started will be continued with even more dedication is testimony to the enthusiasm and motivation that she inspired in others.

She was a true ‘moving spirit’.

A community worker from the UK, Tony Gibson, initiated community self-help schemes in Jamaica and came to St Vincent in 1993 coining the term ‘moving spirit’. I traveled with him from village to village and found that there are moving spirits operating in our communities, individuals who are working quietly behind the scenes.

Moving spirits are in all walks of life- and dedicate themselves to furthering the development of others. Quite often they are ordinary people seeking no accolades, or direct financial compensation for their efforts. They could be teachers who extend themselves beyond the call of duty, mothers who selflessly put their childrens’ needs above their own, people who volunteer their spare time to a charity or community organization. Maybe even the government worker, trying their best to get results but frustrated with the systems they have to deal with. What distinguishes a moving spirit is that they do, they don’t just talk. They are the people who recognize that things have reached a point where something has to be done and if they don’t get together and do it now it will be too late. They are the ones that make the first move. Moving spirits are in their turn sustained by the people they got moving in the first place.

Sister Pat was an eminent moving spirit in the Marriaqua community.

For as Tony Gibson after a long life of working with communities noticed, “real change and development comes from ordinary people working as moving spirits.”

Sister Pat excelled in doing what needed to be done and making things happen. Her response to challenge is expressed in her own words that she loved to repeat “Problem solved. Matta Fix.” Under her guidance and enthusiasm many problems were solved in and out of the classroom, and many matters continue to be fixed by those she inspired with her love and enthusiasm for life.

A fitting tribute to her would be for all those who knew her to recognize their own ability to be moving spirits and create change through making things happen.

Vonnie Roudette

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