Strengthening communities


by Davidson Bowen

The Community Independence Celebrations is not a show or just random activities with a shelf life as long as the applause they receive, but a far-reaching event that works as a catalyst in uniting Barbados.

This was the view of Minister of Youth Affairs and Culture Stephen Lashley when he addressed those gathered for the official launch of this year’s celebration.

Lashley noted that impact of the programme was far greater than many might think.

“A country can only be as strong as the communities of which it is made up. This strength starts with the critical family unit, however constructed, and works its way up.

Mr. Dale and members of the Christ Church Parish Committee have a good time.

“We know that here in Barbados, with the loss of the traditional extended family which ensured stability in years past, we now need to provide appropriate supporting structures which will promote this process of strengthening our communities, making them generally more cohesive and healthier,” he said.

He stressed that this was being done annually through his ministry as the hard-working staff of the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat, work with the Parish Independence Committees to execute a series of events and activities that bring communities together.

“They provide opportunities for them to work together towards a common goal. Opportunities for the young people to interact with the older members of their communities, and to benefit from their guidance,” he added.

The minister pointed out that he met with the parish committees and was currently exploring ways of enhancing the programme so communities could benefit.

“I also propose to use the advantage provided by the fact that my ministry currently comprises a number of key departments which can all assist us in this undertaking — the National Cultural Foundation, the Commission for Pan African Affairs, the Youth Affairs Department, the Department of Gender Affairs, the National Library Service, the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat.

“Working together, these departments can achieve much more than they can as individual entities. They will all work together, pooling human and financial resources, to define and execute at least one major project aimed at the strengthening of our communities, and empowering our young people,” he stressed.

Lashley also revealed that this year’s celebrations would see the addition of the Speightstown Esplanade and the almost completed play-park at Gall Hill in Christ Church, switching on lights simultaneously with Bridgetown.

“I am well aware that this activity comes at a cost, and so I want to encourage the private sector and the general public to partner with us in this regard. While we may not in all cases manage to secure large sums of sponsorship it would be an extremely generous gesture if individuals in our communities could come together, with the guidance of the secretariat and the PICs and pool resources to light up more communities,” he said.

MP for the City, Patrick Todd also lauded the programme as a community-building tool and the parish ambassadors as sources of inspiration worthy of emulating.

“There is no doubt that the Community Independence Celebrations feature some of the most popular events in Barbados, since they really do provide an opportunity for people to identify with their respective communities and parishes, and to work together as a family,” he said.

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