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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Survival strategies

Dr Frances Chandler

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Survival strategies

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I think most would agree there’s much to complain about at the moment, but we’re often criticised for complaining, with those peacefully putting forward their position even deemed to be mobs. We’re told solutions must accompany complaints.  

Mr Patrick Tannis, who announced on last Friday’s Brass Tacks that he is the “caretaker” of St Michael South East, put forward a similar view. But wait a minute! St Michael South-East is my constituency and I haven’t laid eyes on Caretaker Tannis since just before the last election and, come to think of it, neither have I seen the sitting member for our constituency. But what’s new?

Anyway, Mr Tannis announced that he and others were working on a farming solution in his constituency as part of the national solution. I’m in awe that farming was chosen and of course I wish the project well.

To be fair, the public comes up with solutions all the time, but they’re generally ignored. Only last week on Brass Tacks, I heard a proposal to house the isolation unit for infectious diseases at the old naval base in St Lucy rather than in the midst of densely-populated St Michael. The prison was temporarily housed there not long ago so the building should be in a fixable state.

Furthermore, some members of the business community not only come up with tangible solutions to problems, they put their money where their mouths are and implement. The Desalination Plant, the Sustainable Recycling Centre, the solar water heating companies, the solar electricity companies and the recycling companies are but a few examples. The public service vehicles, in spite of their unruliness and all manner of problems, have nevertheless contributed to public transport and could  contribute more if well organised and managed.

Minister Denis Lowe recently dismissed the possibility of the mound of used tyres at Vaucluse being responsible for the rising cases of mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya. I was surprised, as I can’t see how that vast mound of tyres could be properly treated so as to effectively control mosquito larvae.

It appears that the solution proposed by the private sector since 2009 is to produce a road surfacing material from these tyres. A joint venture company Recycling and Sanitation Solutions Ltd was even formed and some of the machinery is already here, but the venture seems to have met with the usual roadblocks.

Actually, I visited Singapore as far back as 1994 and contacted some firms involved in a similar process. When I came home, I passed on the information, but nothing happened. I have also heard that styrofoam, the material used in some “takeaway containers” and meat and vegetable packaging, and which is not biodegradable, can be ground and incorporated in building materials. If these two processes could be implemented, our environmental health would certainly improve. But will the bureaucratic dillying and dallying continue while we “the complainers” suffer the consequences?

Apart from trying to find solutions for national problems, we must all seek our own survival strategies. To give me inspiration, a friend recently gave me a bracelet with these motivational inscriptions – “be grateful”, “walk barefoot”, “giggle” and “hug more”.

I analysed each one. “Be grateful” ­– although we in Barbados are experiencing tough times and do have justifiable complaints, we can’t help but be grateful when we hear reports like “every child of age six in the Middle East has gone through three wars”. The toughest battle most of our children go through is the Common Entrance exam.

“Walk barefoot” is, I suppose, encouraging me to be more carefree. This made me remember my childhood spent in the country where to walk barefoot was the norm and we didn’t seem to be affected by leptospirosis and other such frightening present day problems.

“Giggle”. Again, encouragement to put problems aside sometimes and be lighthearted. Of course Senator Professor Henry Fraser recently declared that “humour, a good marriage, random acts of kindness and a belief in God are part of the recipe for a long, happy life”.

“Hug more” – this is in keeping with the Nation newspaper’s encouragement to “show your  love”. But of course with the threat of Ebola foremost in our minds, we may have to put the hugs on hold and, as I heard a British official recommend recently on the BBC, “talk, don’t touch”.

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former independent senator.