Statement
25 December 2017 - 8:23pm

Hon Myron V. Walwyn
2017 Holiday Message 

Citizens and residents of the Virgin Islands, I am Myron V. Walwyn, Minister for Education and Culture and your Territorial Representative. It is indeed a pleasure for me to wish the entire Virgin Islands – residents and visitors alike - a safe and joyous holiday season. As we remember the love of God this Christmas, I encourage us all to draw from his many examples of selflessness, sacrifice and mercy.

The past few months have been quite a challenge for all of us here in the Virgin Islands, but together we can make it. God never promised us that there wouldn't be any storms, he promised us, though, that he would bring us through those storms and he has done just that. This is our time to see the wonders of his work and ensure that we rebuild the Territory of the Virgin Islands in a better way and reflect on how grateful we should be to God for the good life that we enjoyed before September 6th.

During this holiday season, I pray that as a community we remember the scripture of first John chapter four verses 9 through 11, which says: “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the appeasement for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

We are at a critical stage in our redevelopment as a Territory and in order for us to truly progress as a people – as a country – we have to show love to each other and work together regardless of the things that separate us. You see, the truth is we have much more in common than we do have differences as a people from the Virgin Islands. The sustainable future of our country is largely dependent on each of us making a commitment to doing our part to ensure that it advances.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has experienced its fair share of challenges this year, but our goal of creating a culture of excellence in the Ministry remains of vital importance as we continue to recognise the very important role that education plays in the redevelopment process of the Territory.

This is why my ministry moved assiduously to get schools opened following the hurricanes. My staff at the Ministry worked very long hours to get the early childhood centres across the Territory up and running on October 5th, all while building the new Elmore Stoutt High School campus at the old CTL building and ensuring that it was ready for our senior students to begin lessons on October 5th.

I must also express my profound gratitude to my principals and teachers who worked over time to ensure that the schools that were deemed usable were ready for our primary and junior school students to begin their academic year on November 6th. Our principals and teachers had to deal with their own unfortunate circumstances but came out with great concern for our students and schools and put in the necessary work to ensure that our education sector was indeed in working order again. The display of commitment and dedication by these good people during this difficult period is commendable and I would like to thank them very much on behalf of the Government and the people of the Virgin Islands for their continued support as we continue to rebuild.

The process of getting us to where we are today was no easy feat and would not have been possible without the contributions of many persons within our community who dedicated their time and resources to assist us during this period. I must express gratitude to the civil servants of the Virgin Islands who have worked diligently to ensure that we were able to get Government functioning again. The members of the BVI Electricity Corporation and Royal Virgin Islands Police Force have played a significant role in our rebuilding efforts and I extend heartfelt appreciation to each of them for your invaluable contributions.

Local and international organisations like Rotary, Convoy of Hope, UNICEF and Team Rubicon have aided tremendously in the advancements that we have been able to make thus far. Organisations like these play a vital role in the aftermath of devastation and we remain grateful for their contribution to the redevelopment of our home

And of course, I must say a heartfelt thank you to all the communities in the Virgin Islands that came together and did what they needed to do to clean up their areas. The community sprit that was displayed following the hurricanes is really the true spirit of these Virgin Islands and we must show this true spirit, not only during times of disaster, but at all times.

As many of you would be aware, over the past six years I have celebrated this time of year by hosting my annual Christmas party, which I believe was one of the better parties of the season and I know many of you would agree. A number of persons have been asking about this year’s party and due to the ravages of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the event wasn’t hosted this year.

Recognising the reality that this year many persons are unable to have the simple joys that awaken the Christmas spirit as some persons may have lost their jobs in the tourism industry and other industries; some persons may not have a roof, a stove or a home; some persons are still living in shelters; some persons may have lost a loved-one and are going through their grieving process; some persons may still not have access to basic needs that would provide a comfortable living environment; and some persons simply cannot afford the added expenses that this time of year usually brings.

In lieu of my Christmas party, my committee and I have decided to commit to doing our part to assist persons that may be going through a difficult time by providing lunch to 500 persons on Christmas day free of cost from 11 am – 3pm in the parking lot that is adjacent to Scotiabank and the Pub. I am inviting persons to come out and celebrate with my committee and I as this affords us the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of persons in our community who are having a difficult time.

While 2017 has been filled with a myriad of challenges, it is important for us to see the new year as an opportunity to rebuild and refocus our efforts to create a Virgin Islands that we can all truly be proud of. Hurricanes Irma and Maria created destruction but we now have the chance to correct some things that perhaps weren’t done the best way in the past. We now have a blank slate and we are able to make the necessary adjustments and developments to create a 21st century Virgin Islands. We must now harness our collective talents and ideas to assist in the redevelopment of our home in a way that would benefit future generations.

On behalf of the men and women of the Government of the Virgin Islands, I thank all of you for your continued prayers during this time. As a Territory we were knocked down but we weren’t knocked out. Wishing you all a fantastic Virgin Islands Christmas and a phenomenal 2018. Happy Holidays Virgin Islands! 

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