September 29, 2017
The Government of The Bahamas proposes to temporarily relax the immigration rules for three categories of students from Dominica who wish to continue their education in The Bahamas.
Estimates indicate that 80 per cent of the buildings in Dominica – including homes, schools, learning institutions, the hospital, government-operated buildings and businesses – were completely destroyed as a result of the widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Resident permits will be issued to students from Dominica wishing to study in The Bahamas – with approval of parents.
The policy will cover three categories of students who may apply. They include children who have relatives in The Bahamas and who can find lodging and support from family members; college students who may wish to study at the University of The Bahamas and who seek boarding at UB; and children of parents employed in companies, banks (etcetera) which have offices in The Bahamas.
Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis, in the House of Assembly, September 27, 2017, said the decision was made in an attempt to assist the children of Dominica as children are among the demographics that can be more adversely impacted, psychologically, by natural disasters such as hurricanes.
“As a physician, I know only too well the effects of trauma, such as from hurricanes, on the minds of the young, especially when all is gone and when parents are distraught and have nowhere to turn,” Dr. Minnis said.
“Such psychological scars and mental scars often last a lifetime. The sooner children are allowed to return to a state of normalcy, the better it is for their long-term development,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Prime Minister Minnis said a number of the members of the religious community have offered their assistance with regards to providing access to their educational programmes.
These include the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of The Bahamas; the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands and The Bahamas National Baptist and Missionary Education Convention.
Prime Minister Minnis said The Bahamas’ response to the devastation in Dominica ought to be one filled with charity, of a humanitarian nature, and one borne out of the Christian values the country espouses.
Dr. Minnis said the country’s response will also be a teachable moment for younger and future generations of Bahamians, Dominicans and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals alike.
“Will we show the world the generosity of our people? Or will those of us who have been spared, close our hearts and minds to those who have no food, no shelter, no water, no clothing, no homes? Will we summon the best of the Bahamian spirit, or will we give in to our worse instincts?
“The teachable moment now upon us is to teach a younger generation that when the Bahamian people saw their neighbours in need, we acted with love, with compassion, with mercy and with abundant generosity of spirit,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
The Prime Minister said he found it “shameful” how some persons are trying to manipulate the anxiety and feelings of some for political gain.
“Those who would stoke certain fears at this time, do not represent the best of who we are. Will we be guided by our better angels, or by ingratitude and selfishness? Out of the generosity of our hearts, and in thanksgiving, let us render what assistance we can to our neighbours in need even as we continue our recovery here at home,” the Prime Minister added.
By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services