No RUSM – now What?

Post Hurricane Maria woes continue to directly hit every sector of this country, and this most recent redundancy of employees’ situation at the Ross University School of Medicine is a hard one to process.  I don’t work there, neither do I have any person in my household who does, but living in this town (Portsmouth where this institution is located), and knowing so many people (some friends and relatives) who have been employed at Ross for years are enough reasons to be able to empathize with all affected.

On a national level, this phenomenon is definitely going and has already begun to dent the treasury’s purse, and that of so many members of the private sector.  From utility companies, to home-owners, restaurateurs, tour operators, taxi drivers, doctors, nurses and the local ‘hustlers’ selling coconut water along the Ross Boulevard to name a few, are negatively impacted.  The apartment owners with high mortgages requiring regular attention, and bankers who are probably now orchestrating means to collect much needed payments from the now unemployed is equivalent to a horror story unfolding without restraint.

I mean let us face it – no one really saw this madness coming pre-Maria, but it has, and is evolving rapidly.  Who can forget the folks in the food shacks adjacent to the school, those super-market owners and employees, the bus drivers who made regular trips to and from Roseau carrying Ross’ employees and students, the health fairs offered by the med- students, and the litany of positive rituals surrounding daily processes of the institution that many of us took for granted?  The point is, Ross University School of Medicine is a much required venture in Dominica, and should or must be fought for.  I make this statement with the hope that it is not too late for that fight to ensue by all relevant parties with the weight being on the shoulders of the powers that be. 

On a spiritual level, it is my personal conviction that Ross must be reclaimed through prayer and supplication by all God-fearing individuals in the land.  You see, “the devil came to kill, to steal and to destroy…” – that’s what the Holy Scriptures say.  So, to think we are merely fighting a physical situation is to bury our spiritual eyes in a realm of darkness.  Let us not be blind to this stunt of the enemy to rid us of stability, peace, providence and sanity.  So, if you are a believer, then hope you can join the quest to reclaim Ross through prayerful petitions as a start and throughout this ordeal.

Now I am certain those not-so-faith-minded folks will downplay and even criticize this point of view, but hey, to each his own.  My spiritual eyes tell me that we are under attack as a nation.  WE are all called to surrender to God on a regular – not some one-shot stuff.

I want to propose a few approaches to this situation:

Firstly, those who are unemployed must ensure that they utilize that take-home pay wisely.  Ensure that money multiplies.  Consider placing a proportion on a fixed deposit, and start doing some dialogue as to how they can utilize the skills, and work ethics developed while working at Ross.  Maybe they can become better and more devoted entrepreneurs if some were.  If they weren’t, maybe they need to explore the possibility of creating their own jobs as sole traders, or maybe partnering with others to do so.  Forming some level of Cooperative can also be something to explore too by banding together as a unit, especially those who are within close proximity to each other.  Supporting each other is necessary in order to trod through this difficult patch in their lives.

For all of us Dominicans residing here at home, whether we worked at Ross or not, this is the time to be frugal.  If we spent a lot of money on ‘the drinks, parties, nice-things’ all of which we can classify as wants and not needs, it is time for us all to reconsider our spending habits.  I’m not saying live a boring life – let us live smartly, but happily of course.

As for the location of The Shacks, if it is not owned by Ross, maybe people can still sell foods and drinks in the area to attract local folks (though on a small scale for start).  If the area belongs to Ross, with some negotiations, maybe that can be allowed?    Make it an ‘alive – zone’ especially on the weekends where people may want to socialize.  After-all, we cannot allow the entrance into the Town from the Southern end to be a dead-zone.

Those with empty – apartments may want to start considering how they can attract local and regional people to live, or do short term stay at your facilities at reasonable costs.  Don’t sit around waiting for the med-students to come back.  Of course, if your building was damaged, now is the time to bring it up to desired standard.  Still, many of you can consider promoting selling your venues via set ups like   Who knows, you may well find this a profitable venture after all.  Encourage local tourism too – market your apartments at reasonable locally tailored costs.

Let me commend the folks like Glenroy Jno. Baptiste – “DJPower” of Tulip, other picard-based proprietors of Che’s Ice Cream, James Store, Whitchurch IGA, The Chinese Store Owner, Catherine’s Restaurant, Bulls-Eye Pharmacy and all those out there who continue to give life to the place.  These folks create an environment of hope.

Having said that, I will controversially mention that, pre-Maria, many of the Picard-based businesses almost forgot that they should cater for and or attract locals to their enterprises.   The treatments of locals in comparison to the ‘tourists’ were sub-standard.  Hope this is a wake-up call for all and sundry.  Notwithstanding this fact, I would like to remind us locals that we all have a responsibility to [continue] to support and or patronize the local establishments as much as we possibly can.   We cannot cry die, before we die!

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