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Accommodation for Grenadines children

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Tue, Aug 09, 2010

Editor: Please permit me space in your newspaper to highlight an issue that has been affecting the people of the Grenadines,{{more}} for as long as anyone can remember – namely the problem of finding accommodation for children from the Grenadines to obtain their

secondary and post-secondary education on mainland St.Vincent.

Over the years, the people of the Grenadines have faced the serious trial of sending their young ones to attend secondary and tertiary level institutions on mainland St. Vincent. While I had understood this arrangement to be problematic, the immensity of it never really hit home until during the past month, when I searched without success to find a home where my 11-year-old cousin could board, in order to enter the St. Vincent Grammar School.

I experienced feelings which ranged from frustration to fatigue to helplessness and eventual anger, as I made call after futile call to friends, acquaintances and strangers. Finally, when my family could do nothing more, we decided to pool our limited resources and rent. And rent prices are unbelievably high!

Finding a place to board is only the first woe that Grenadines parents have to address. Parents, aunts, uncles, friends and cousins – all who have gone through the mainland schooling exercise – can relate their difficult experiences. Few parents are lucky enough to find good homes. Some are faced with having to pay exorbitant monthly boarding fees. This is an extreme financial burden on parents, as the Grenadine islands are almost exclusively dependent on tourism and seasonal business. Parents often cannot afford these boarding fees in addition to the other educational costs, and many children have to change lodgings often – some as often as every two months, in an effort to cope.

But this level of instability only compounds the problem,

as these children are removed from parents at the tender age

of ten, eleven or twelve. The factor of youthfulness, added to the emotional stress brought on by the frequent, constant upheaval of moving, makes it even more difficult for children. Some drop out of school, as they simply cannot function in school.

The people of the Grenadines are a resilient people, but faced with the poverty of the economy, the uncertainty of proper accommodation for the upcoming generation, and the lack of concern for our plight by those charged with the burden of governance, we have come to a point where we no longer know where to turn.

How much longer will our government allow us to suffer? Why are we being made to feel as though we are not a part of this country? Are we being punished for living in the Grenadines?

It is time for the government to step in and do something! We, in the Grenadines, have been neglected for far too long. At present, a workable short term solution is to have someone in the Grenadines Affairs Department compile a list of people who are willing to take student boarders from the Grenadine islands. This list will have to be updated annually. This simple tool will go a long way in helping parents to find homes for their children.

Please remember, we are not native to the mainland, and as it is, finding a boarder is a hit-and-miss affair. However, for the long term, the government needs to look beyond, to a more permanent solution. A boarding house could be constructed, with

persons paidto give adult supervision. Parents are willing to pay boarding fees, but some subsidies should be given. Such a facility will go a long way in securing peace of mind for parents. We would be happy in the knowledge that our children are being properly cared for. It would also serve to reassure us that the government perceives itself as the duly constituted Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines that works on behalf of ALL its citizens.

I plead with all Vincentians, those in government and those who love children and have the willingness and resources to help us. Parents from the Grenadines, like all other concerned parents, want their children to succeed and have choices. Please help us to give our children that fighting chance.

Natesha S. Alexander

[email protected]

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