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Tarnished gem of Caribbean


JOHN BLANDFORD

Tarnished gem of Caribbean

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IT IS WITH A great deal of regret and disappointment that our family has decided to return to the United Kingdom (UK) after a period of three-and-a-half years’ struggle to make our life a permanent one on the island.

The dream began some 11 years ago when my daughter met and married a local lad. They returned to the UK to save hard and work towards their dream of returning to Barbados to live with their young family.

My wife and I fell in love with the island and its people and made the decision to also spend as much time as we could here. Two houses were built and we moved here in 2013.

My son-in-law, a trained painter, thought he would find work in the construction industry and had no idea what would lay ahead: three years of constant battle to make a living, moving from workplace to workplace with his wage decreasing almost every time.

Also he has had periods where no work of any type was available. Most of this time his work was as a labourer, not as a skilled worker.

At last, after being unemployed for three months, he found a job working on a large South Coast hotel development as a labourer, but at least he could see employment until the completion of the project. Not to be!

He has been replaced by workers from outside of Barbados who are willing to work for even less than the $325 per week that he was being paid. So back to being unemployed.

My daughter, during all of this time, applied for job after job, around 150, without even a reply. She is a fully trained medical secretary, became a senior administrator within the NHS at a world-famous children’s hospital and was responsible for the management of a great number of staff.

On speaking to a number of people concerning why neither one of my relatives can even get an interview for even a reasonable job, the answer I constantly receive is that because they are English (son-in-law is Bajan) they would be expecting to receive top salaries.

Do you really think they would have moved here with that idea? They took the massive step to move here knowing the salary situation. So why the assumption?

What Barbados is going to lose is a young family that can give so much to the island. They have the skills and drive to enhance the island, which is what it needs.

As an island with a small population, you need the input from outside – people that have new ideas that can drive you forward. What are you frightened of? Being from the UK, you would assume that we do not need this input either. Of course we do. Everyone does. Different skills, different attitudes, different outlooks. That’s what drives everyone forward.

As an outsider but changed for life from my experiences on this beautiful island, looking at your situation in this 50th year, I can only despair. What’s going on? What’s the agenda? What’s the future?

I see parts of the island with no water. I see construction being controlled by Bajan companies but staffed by people from abroad. I see roads that need serious repair and places that the tourists visit filled with water and in places sewage.

I see vast open spaces left fallow where once sugar cane grew, but no agriculture taking place despite the vast increase in both the cost and volume of imported food.

Apart from the tax-free domain of the hotel sector, the only outside investment I have seen in the last few years is that of Subway, KFC and Burger King – hardly a way forward.

You have great natural resource. Use it. Invest in agriculture, invest in new power sources to drive down imports. Invest properly in tourism; don’t give it away.

You are the jewel in the Caribbean. Don’t let it be tarnished and don’t let yourselves be let down. You as a people do not deserve it.

It may be too late for us to make a difference, but please, please give others the opportunity.

We will honestly deeply miss you all.

– JOHN BLANDFORD

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