Remarks at Opening of Morne Rachette Resource Centre

Roosevelt Skerrit Morne Rachette

Let me say good afternoon to all the wonderful residents of Morne Rachette and Colibistrie. And of course the media present.

I want to first of all apologize for being late a bit. I am not normally late and the reason I was late is because we were welcoming to the country over 400 new students at the Ross University who will commence their classes this week. I had to be part of that ceremony in Portsmouth and race back down to be here because I promised the residents, the villagers that I will come as long as I am in the country, I would come to this very important ceremony.

But before I go on, I really want to pay particular hommage and to express my own personal gratitude on behalf of all the residents of Morne Rachette and Coulibistrie to two gentleman. They passed on and may God Bless their soul but Linton Paul and Perry Jno Baptiste. While Mr. Francis Paul was the main man who would come and make a presentation and write the letters and the project documents and so forth, these two gentlemen were exceptionally persuasive in their efforts to get this Resource Centre going.

And it speaks to the fact that these gentlemen, they could have said, “I have a few dollars, I do not need to be involved…and so forth and,” but they felt a certain degree of commitment to this community and the generations to come, and they wanted to leave a structure that would help and aid in the overall development of the young people of Morne Rachette and Coulibistrie and what a better legacy they could have left for us here and I am sure they are spying down on us this afternoon saying, “well done, well done, all of the people of Morne Rachette.”

I want to say to you in Morne Rachette and Coulibistrie, that you have in Mr. Francis Paul, one of the most knowledgable people not only in these communities but in Dominica as a whole. And Mr. Paul selflessly laboured on this project and ensured that we pushed on so we get this project going. So the first time he came to my office wanting to see me, and he told me about the plans to construct a resource centre in this community, and he told me the cost of the project. I said “why is this estimate so high? I could build a big structure in Vieille Case for less than $100,000,” but I did not have all of the money at the time to give to him and so I decided to so acede in this project and we gave a first cheque of $100,000. And I kept getting calls from him and people who would contact me on his behalf, and of course people like Paul and Perryman would send messages to me about them needing more money. But I said, “I gave you guys $100,000 plus what you have so I decided to come to Morne Rachette myself to visit the project and when I got there I saw this massive structure, a massive structure and you could see that they were struggling to have it completed and we committed to the additional funds to get them to the point that they are in today. Of course, added to the help and the funds raised by you the community residents.

So it says that you do not necessarily have to wait on a Prime Minister, a Government, to come to do something for you in the community. That you can start and join hands and get it going. I find that in this country today, there are people who put every responsibility on the shoulder, in many cases, on one person called Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of the country. If our drains are blocked, we expect the Prime Minister to come and unblock it. If our children do not go to school when they have the buses taking them to school free of charge, they blame me for the children not going to school. But we have to take responsibility of our own future and our own development. And I believe you here in Morne Rachette have demonstrated that you needed a resource centre. You went and you negotiated for the land on your own. You got the land on your own. You were negotiating the plans on your own. You got the plans on your own. You did the estimates on your own. You got the estimates on your own. You started raising funds and then you went and you asked for funds. And it is instructive, Mr. Paul, want the Canadians said to you – go and build it, when you build it we can assist you with furnishing because they would not do those things for you because they recognize that it is a community’s responsibility to put the infrastructure down and the other things they can assist with.

So it is really a testimony of the vision of the two deceased gentlemen ably assisted by Mr. Paul and other members of this group and of course you the residents of Morne Rachette. But we also must pay particular, express particular gratitude, to Del Shillingford who provided the land, over 17,000 square feet, over 17,000 square feet of land at no cost to the community as far as I understand. And in every west coast community, where the Shillingfords have land, they have been able to give back to those communities. Whether it is in St. Joseph, whether it is in Mero, whether it is in Bioche, or Colihaut or Dublanc, they have been able to give to the community at no cost to the community. So my hope is that those persons who have made this kind of selfless contributions to the construction of this facility, that their names will be somewhere on a wall so that those of us who come to use this facility would be reminded of the commitment and contributions of those individuals. We must show gratitude.

Sometimes when you hear people say on the talk shows and so on, you do not have to say thanks it is the Government giving it to you. But the Government could have said no and you would have said the Government did not give it to you. It is important for us to teach our children irrespective of where we get it from we must say thanks to those who have in fact given to us this assistance.

For me it is an exciting joy to be here with you. But sitting here next to my friend the Chiarman of the Council, Ericson, I recognize that you have no tiles on the floor and it will become dusty. I did not hear the accountant, the treasurer indicate whether they have any money left in the credit union account but I suspect the reason they did not mention it is because there is zero dollars in the account. So before I leave you, and I leave this podium, I want to make a commitment to providing to your group, $30,000 to tile the floor. And of course Mr. Paul you know how to find me or Shanks or Bentley Royer or my friend Ericson. That cheque will be made available to you by Tuesday of next week God’s willing.

Now I must say to you that that was not budgeted for, but notwithstanding the fact, you will still get unlike it is budgeted and you don’t get it. I would also like to commit to the Village Council for the improvement of the road leading up to this facility and beyond the facility some $70,000 towards that project. And of course that cheque will be available on Tuesday of next week God’s willing.

Often times I hear people criticize the Government by saying that we have not done anything for the Salisbury Constituency and that cannot be true at all. We can say that we need more things done but we cannot say that nothing has been done by this Government in this Constituency. Your students continue to enjoy free bus fare to the schools, your children are picked up in the morning and brought back home safely. We continue to provide books to the many students who need assistance with books and uniforms. We have provided in excess of $270,000 for the construction of this facility and I do not want the media to carry that because I do not want Vieille Case people to hear me. I do not have one yet in my village, where I am from but I commit to them that I will construct one in the next five year term as Parl Rep and as Prime Minister of the country.

I recall when I came here sometime ago, you told me that your major challenge was the road coming up to the Village. And we delivered that road to you the residents of Morne Rachette. And we shall continue on our path to assist you with the housing issues. I have asked for the list of the number of people who do not have washrooms in these communities so that we can make some resources available to the Council towards the eradication of pit latrines not only in these communities but the entire country. We have the resources for it. The Minister of Housing is there. He has a lot of money for housing – in excess of $10-million for housing. So Morne Rachette, Salisbury, Coulibistrie will get their fair share of the money available for housing.

So I really want to thank you for inviting me to this ceremony and to say to you that it has been an exceptional journey and I want to give my friend Mr. Francis Paul an additional responsibility of writing, recording, that journey from when you started to now and to let people understand that it is through hard work, it is through discipline, that they can get things done. Things do not come easily. Things do not come easily. We have to work hard to do and to do what we have to do. But I have always known the people of Morne Rachette to be very hard-working people. You have your own economic and social challenges but you are a people full of pride and determination and you will continue to achieve once we all work together towards achieving this. I really want to thank you again for inviting me and may God bless you and may God bless our efforts and may God bless this beautiful country, Dominica. Thank you very much.

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