Ensuring that all children are in school, including Haitians, was the right thing to do
Transcend political correctness and strive for human righteousness.
~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book
A few days ago, I had the most pleasant surprise.
As I sat in Carambola, after a long, hard day to unwind for a moment, a patron of the restaurant came up to me. We had been proudly hosting local celebrities from the Miss Earth TCI show, when this beautiful young lady approached me and asked if I was Lillian Boyce. I replied, saying yes, I was, offering a few well deserved compliments to a well spoken young woman who was carrying herself with comportment and grace.
She introduced herself to me, telling me she was a contestant in the Miss Earth pageant. Then to my surprise, she told me, “thank you”. She said “thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend school when I was a child. My mother always spoke about you and the days when we were not allowed to go to public schools. I have always wanted to meet you, and promised myself that when I did, I would say ‘thank you’”.
She told me about her childhood, about her poor parents struggling to pay persons who promised them that they would get their children back into schools after they were thrown out because they were the children of immigrants.
After this unfortunate dislocation, they were forced to practice what I can only call a “revolving education”- they were forced to move from house to house learning from various tutors what they could. She admitted as a young child she found it tiring, but that her parents insisted; saying that education was too important for them to stand passively by.
I was touched. Though she had spoken loudly enough for those around us to hear, I asked her, through my tears to tell my husband and children what she had just told me. It is gratifying to know at the end of the day, the sacrifices that were made and the long hours spent serving the people, paid off and did just that- served them, and served them well.
This young woman before me; so poised and accomplished is just one of many students that wouldn’t have been successful had I not fought for what I believed it. Though unpopular at the time and with little support (except for a few of my ministerial colleagues), I believed that everyone had a right to education; and was appalled at the prospect of over 300 children, falling desolately by the wayside.
As she spoke I blinked; fighting back tears as I looked at saw a responsible citizen before me who had made the best of the opportunities she had been given. From that firm foundation, she had gone on to earn a degree from New England Tech in Rhode Island after she was a runner up in the Miss Turks and Caicos Competition and a kind individual say her potential and offered her a scholarship.
We have misplaced many letters from students over the years, but I have always prayed that I would meet them again and see how far they’ve come and what they have done with their lives.
You see readers I believe now as I believed then, that every child is entitled to an education and should never be deprived because of a lack of planning and overcrowded classrooms.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the forgotten children who were suffering from the exclusion in our school system; and while there are still many more children who need to be included, I pause to say thank you to Governor Ric Todd and the British Interim Administration for finally taking their responsibility serious and providing seats for our children.
In a press release earlier this week they informed us that they would provide funding for 63 four year old children to attend private schools after the public schools had no more seats. To be frank, I felt vindicated, because ensuring that all children in the Turks and Caicos Islands are given a place in school is something that I have always advocated. I took a lot of heat for it from politicians and some members of the general public, but it is good to know that the policy which I held so dear to my heart is now being embraced and that opportunities are being provided for the children among us. This is something to celebrate. God is good!
It is gratifying to see the Interim Government taking this step from where I left off, and I cannot help but feel proud that even if in a small way, my column had helped to highlight the situation and led to a resolution.
Use this as your Stepping Stone: When we speak about the things that challenge us, someone might just hear. We must never hesitate to speak about the things that concern us. When we sow seeds of aspirations and nurture it with action, it may well bear fruit.
We must never be afraid to do the right thing no matter how unpopular it is. I leave you with this quote:
“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948);