Symonette: This is the Christian thing to do
Minister of Immigration Brent Symonette said yesterday that it is The Bahamas’ Christian duty to assist Dominica in its time of need.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed yesterday that The Bahamas will accept students and other Dominicans with families in The Bahamas as that country begins to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
The Nassau Guardian reached out to Symonette, who is coordinating the exchange effort with CARICOM, and asked whether the Minnis administration is concerned about any backlash from the public.
“We are being Christian to our Caribbean neighbor, who was devastated in a major hurricane,” he said.
“When you listen to the prime minister speak, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, and just look at him – because I’ve known him for several years – he really looks like he had the whole world on his shoulders.
“It could be us one day, too. For us to extend a loving, friendly hand to a Caribbean sister nation, if people have a difficulty with that, we cannot justly call ourselves a Christian nation.”
Symonette said he will be talking through CARICOM on how the exchange will work.
“You raised the question of if we are xenophobic. The way forward for The Bahamas in the world scene is to get over our hang-ups in that area, if we are ever going to develop as a country,” Symonette said.
“Until we are prepared to accept that there is a world beyond The Bahamas, we will never develop as a first-class country.
“We had our devastation on Ragged Island, but in Dominica it’s a whole country.
“We have to accept the magnitude of it.
“The schools are destroyed; the hospitals are destroyed; the prime minister’s roof came off.
[Members of Parliament] are coming to work by fishing boat.”
Skerrit, who landed on New Providence shortly after 10 a.m. yesterday, briefly met with Minnis and Symonette at Jet Aviation. He was in transit to Dominica.
On Saturday, Skerrit delivered a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on climate change and the state of his country.
“I want to thank the government of The Bahamas for offering to host and facilitate the schoolchildren, especially students, to be able to come here and to be housed by families,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“This will certainly help a number of families in my country.”
Education: College of The Bahamas, English