It's Christmas time again and as Parliamentary Representative of Gros Islet and a Minister in the Government of Saint Lucia it is my pleasure and privilege to bring you greetings for a pleasant and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous and productive New Year.
Of course it is also a time to give thanks and I will not want to miss this opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of the nearly 3,300 people who voted for me in the elections of December 3rd and to all of the several persons who gave of their time - whether as polling agents, 100 yards workers, field officers, canvassers, drivers and all else who contributed to averting a concerted effort by a coalition of varied interests to unseat me as the Parliamentary Representative of Gros Islet.
At the end of it all though I remain the Parliamentary Representative of all of Gros Islet - whether you voted for me or against me or did not vote at all - and I will continue to work as hard as I can to give the best possible representation to my entire constituency.
Elections aside this was another very good year for Gros Islet in which we witnessed not just the customary road improvement work, improvements in water and electricity supply and improvements to street lighting, but one in which we witnessed the commencement or completion of a number of major projects in Gros Islet. These include the expansion and upgrade of the Grande Riviere Playing Field, the Marisule Playing Field and the Monchy Playing Field; the construction of a 1.2 million dollar extension to the Grande Riviere Combined School; the construction of a $600,000.00 extension to the Monchy Combined School; the establishment of a 30 - computer laboratory at the Gros Islet Primary School; the construction of the first sidewalk in the Town of Gros Islet; the full operationalising of the Gros Islet Polyclinic; the undertaking of a 3 million dollar restoration and renovation project on Bay Street in Gros Islet; the construction of a 1.5 million dollar Fire Station at Massade in Gros Islet; and the construction of a 35 million dollar National Cricket Ground at Beausejour in Gros Islet.
Indeed it can truly be said that the total transformation of the District of Gros Islet is now well on the way thanks to the work undertaken by Government in the last four-and-a- half years and thanks as well to work undertaken by the private sector in Gros Islet. I am happy and proud that this transformation has taken place under my watch as Parliamentary Representative and with my active involvement in almost all of the activities from initiation to completion.
But to return again to Christmas, I was able this year - as I've done since 1997 - to hold Christmas parties for all of the primary, infant and pre schools in Gros Islet, with each of the 12 schools having its own treat and with Santa Claus giving a gift to every child, except in the case of one school where gifts were given only to the top performing children in each class. The children as usual had a wonderful time and I too enjoyed the outing with the children of Gros Islet.
I was also able to host once again our Annual Senior Citizens Treat where some 200 elders from Gros Islet ate, drank and danced away for several hours at the Gros Islet Primary School. As has happened since the initiation of this event in December 1997 it brought much pleasure both to the seniors for whom it was held and to me who hosted and organized it for them.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the hotels and other business places in Gros Islet which contributed to the success of the children's parties and the Senior Citizens Treat - your support and assistance went a long way towards making several hundred children and elders in Gros Islet very happy this Christmas.
I want also to use this opportunity to thank the entire staff of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports for their continued support and co-operation in the discharge of the mission and mandate of our Ministry. We made considerable progress for yet another year, none of which would have been possible without your hard work.
To the principals, teachers, support staff and students of our schools across the island, your efforts in moving the education system forward in this year were indeed very appreciated, as were the efforts of our young people and sports persons in making this year one of our best years in sports in St. Lucia.
The New Year will be for all of us involved in the work of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports another challenging year with still many rivers to cross and mountains to climb, but the record of achievement in the sectors managed by this Ministry should be a source of motivation and inspiration to all of us involved in its work to continue - despite the occasional hitches and hurdles - to work towards the further advancement of our education, human resources, youth and sports.
I am prepared myself to seek in the upcoming New Year to mend fences and build bridges affected by recent events and I expect that others will play their part in this task of reconciliation and restoration because I know that when all is said and done all of us share the dream of a society in which our education system is more modernized, our human resources more developed, our youth more productive and our sports more successful; for it is only then that we will be able to deal with the challenges of this era of the primacy of knowledge, the paucity of aid and the pace of globalization.
Let me in closing wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of the residents of Gros Islet - those who voted for me, those who voted against me and those who did not vote at all; I will continue to work with all of you for the benefit of our constituency in the years ahead.
Let me also wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of the staff of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Youth and Sports; all of the principals, teachers, support staff and students at our several schools in the country; all of the young people, sportsmen sportswomen in St. Lucia. Indeed, I wish every St. Lucian - boy or girl, man or woman - and every resident of this country, a pleasant and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous and productive New Year.
Let us - each and every one of us - redouble our efforts in the New Year to help realize the hopes and dreams of our nation as we move to face the challenges ahead.
Once again, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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