Season Greetings to all my fellow Virgin Islanders, residents, friends and visitors.
As you know 2017 was a year of many challenges and changes for us all. We survived two of the most devastating hurricanes the Atlantic has ever seen. Our mental state was shaken, our homes were severely damaged or destroyed in some cases, our businesses took a loss, our families were displaced and life as we know it in these Virgin Islands has been changed forever.
Although these disasters have created many challenges, they have also created many opportunities; opportunities to become better citizens and to rebuild better and stronger.
There is a motivational quote that says, “No matter how rough the sea, I refuse to sink.” Let us remember that hardships teach us valuable lessons as they make us stronger. Yes, at times we will feel hopeless, however, through it all we still have life, and where there is life hope abounds; with patience and perseverance we will overcome.
I take this opportunity on behalf of my wife Janice our family and the extended Skelton family to offer our deepest sympathies to those who have suffered injuries or have loss loved ones as a result of the storms and other causes. May you find comfort in Jehovah during this time of great loss.
We do not have to suffer alone; let us hold fast to our long held Virgin Islands’ tradition of caring for and sharing with each other. Now is the time for us to draw closer together and be comforted and succeed by the strength of our unity.
Our Government remains committed and continues to work towards rebuilding our Territory. The Ministry of Health and Social Development has worked with great care and perseverance to complete the required assessments during the relief stage and has now created a recovery plan that will address various short, medium and long term potential options for housing as well as the other social needs of our people in the aftermath of the hurricanes.
We have already mobilised support to assist those in need of building materials and finances for the repair of homes. This assistance will continue well into 2018 as the rebuilding process continues.
I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the committed and dedicated staff of all the departments of the Ministry of Health and Social Development, all of the service clubs, non-governmental organisations, the local and international donors and everyone who came to our assistance during our time of great need. Your continuing support is beneficial to achieving the goal of this housing programme and our ongoing rebuilding process. I encourage you to contact the Social Development Department to continue to offer your support.
On behalf of my wife Janice, my extended Skelton family and the staff of the Ministry of Health and Social Development, its Departments, Divisions and Units, I wish you all a safe and prosperous New Year. May Jehovah continue to guide us and protect these beautiful Virgin Islands.
Your Minister for Health and Social Development, Ronnie W. Skelton.