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Article in The Bahama Journal – “Make a Difference”

March 9, 2010

Here is a really intriguing editorial about participation in civic society, labor rights, and migration. Not sure who wrote it – I’ve been looking all over The Bahama Journal website – but it has no by-line.  If anyone else finds it – or sees the hard copy – please comment on this and let us know who wrote this.

And share your thoughts!  What do you think about labor in The Bahamas?  What should the government be doing to support Haitians living in The Bahamas and Haitian-Bahamians?  How can we create a better, sustainable, and sensible migration policy?  A policy that is humane and acknowledges shared relations / histories among us and our common needs… A policy that is created in light of the earthquake in Haiti, recognising the continued suffering and long road ahead of re-building and healing…. A policy that embraces and supports our neighbours – our Haitian brothers and sisters…  A policy that encourages exchange and solidarity…

It was refreshing to read this editorial that tackles tough questions, points out the inadequacy / lack of humanity in the existing immigration policy, and calls for more – asking us all to think about change.

While we have already made the point that there are workers like teachers, nurses, firemen, and others such whose contributions are routinely taken for granted, today we repeat our refrain that these workers are the types who keep this place going.

They are not paid enough for all they do. But despite it all, these decent, law-abiding citizen-professionals routinely do what they do best; that is to say, they work in diligent service to the Bahamian people.

Paradoxically, the same kudos can and should go to any number of workers – some of them undocumented – who make their own valued contributions to the orderly growth and development of the Bahamas.

This double-barreled thought came to us this weekend past as we were reminded not only of the amount of challenges nurses face as they go about their work in what are decidedly less than optimal conditions; but also of the fact that a team of some of this nation’s best nurses recently departed for an earthquake-shattered Haiti.

There they are helping the Haitian people as they struggle to cope not only with the impact of the recent earthquake, but also with some other huge challenges, this time around those that are coming with the rainy season – one which portends disaster for the Haitian people.

Here we reference all those diseases like dysentery, cholera, malaria and yellow fever, among others which routinely devastate the lives of the most vulnerable, namely children and their grandparents.

We celebrate and thank those wonderful nurses for the truly remarkable work they are doing in that devastated land.

We are also reminded of the fact that even as Bahamian nurses carry our nation’s flag and do what they have to do – even in Haiti – there are untold numbers of Haitians and so-called Haitian Bahamians who would and could do as much – if not more – to come to the aid of their land, its people and our good neighbour.

This is so – sadly – because very many of these poor people are obliged to live in a kind of twilight; a place where they are always on the look-out for either Immigration or the Police.

It has transpired that a nether world has emerged; a freaky place where people are obliged to treat with criminals in order to conduct transactions that are ordinarily considered routine.

Haitians living and working in the Bahamas are sometimes obliged to exist somehow or the other in a world where brutality and anguish are – quite literally speaking – the order of the day.

In one instance that recently came to our attention, a Haitian woman who works as a maid for a Bahamian family got the news that her mother had died.

To say the least, she was distraught at the news.

But even more distressing was the fact that this mother of four children could not leave the Bahamas to attend her mother’s funeral; this because she knew that she had neither will nor means to attempt another illegal entry into a Bahamas where she now works.

Incidentally, this woman is married; has four children; and that their father [her husband] was deported by Immigration.

This is heart-rending.

See Full Article in The Bahama Journal published 2 March 2010

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