Category Archives: News

Solidarity Statement from Pont Casse Press

We, the founders of Pont Passe Press, are extremely saddened at the devastation caused to Dominica by Hurricane Maria in general and more particularly, to the Roseau Public Library. The library played an important and crucial role in our intellectual development and has played a similar role in the lives of thousands of Dominicans. It is therefore extremely distressing to see the damage to our library and the public’s inability to access its vast resources.

 

In collaboration with Rebuild Dominica (www.rebuilddominica.org) other Dominica Diaspora entities and allies, we are therefore prepared to pledge our fullest support not only to the renovation of the Roseau Public Library but also to ensuring that through a mobile library service, the young citizens of Dominica can continue to have access to books for the purpose of continuing their intellectual development.

 

Dr. Irving W. Andre

Gabriel Christian, Esq

Dominica’s Convent High School Partial Reopen

 

History of the Convent High School

Adapted from an article by Bishop Arnold Boghaert

The Convent High School is one of the oldest institutions in Dominica and is the first secondary school in the Island. It all began with the vision of the then Bishop of Roseau, Bishop Vesque, 2nd Bishop of Roseau. He is the founder of the Convent High School. In May 1857, recognizing that he needed the support of a religious community, Bishop Vesque wrote to the foundress of  the congregation of the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin in Norwood, England. He had been chaplain of the orphanage run by the nuns. In a subsequent appeal for help, Bishop Vesque warned the Sisters of the hardships and poverty they would have to endure. As a true missionary, the foundress of the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin accepted the new venture and appointed seven sisters to the new mission on October 30, 1857. On December 8, 1857, the Sisters disembarked at Roseau from French vessel “Occindental” after a voyage that had lasted 33 days. The corridor of the Bishop’s House was converted into a dormitory for the nuns, consisting of two beds, three sofas and three mattresses on the floor.

On January 20, 1858, the Sisters officially opened an orphanage. The Convent High School opened its doors on February 2, 1858. Only 6 students were enrolled. During these humble beginnings the school stood where the St. Mary’s Academy and the St. Gerard’s Hall now stand. The Sisters were able to move into their new convent, called St. Ives, present residence of the Christian Brothers. The principal was Mother Marie des Neiges, a member of the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin.

In 1907 a move was made to what we now call the Convent High School building, in order to provide needed space and to also mark the Golden Jubilee of the arrival of the Sisters. The newly built three wing stone structure today houses the ICM Sister’s residence, the school Auditorium and some classes.

Between 1858 and 1891, the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin had provided some 500 girls a home with board and lodging, schooling and even employment. While the orphanage closed in 1891, the Convent High School continued. As early as 1881, girls from Dominica and neighbouring islands, Antigua, St. Kitts and Trinidad, applied for membership to the Sisters of the Faithful Virgin. A noviciate was opened and several made their religious vows. By 1933, however, neither England and France nor the Caribbean could provide the religious staff to serve the growing school. The Superior of Sisters was forced to inform Bishop Moris that they had decided to withdraw from Dominica.

When the running of the School was handed over to the Missionary of Canonesses of St. Augustine (now called the ICM Sisters) in about 1937 there were about 67 students on roll. After this the school experienced a great deal of growth numerically and also in the curriculum. The preparatory section was built along the new wings today occupied by the Forms 1, 2, 4 and 5. School life was also enhanced by a number of club groups. The curriculum was adapted to accommodate overseas and later the Caribbean Examinations and greater emphasis was placed on science education.

In 1983, Mrs. Dorothy Leevy became the School’s first lay principal. Although the School experienced no physical expansion at this time other changes were made to respond to the changes in society and education. Student population was then about five hundred. The School became a fore runner in providing computer literacy to its students, as well as the general public. A key individual in this aspect was Sister Hilda. The Computer Lab was recently dubbed the Sister Hilda Computer Lab in February 2006. Thousands of people have participated in the school’s computer programme.

Our early founders were driven with a faith what was translated into dedication and commitment of service to others. Bishop Vesque’s dream of providing quality education especially for girls is still alive. The School’s dominance in academic education, debate and essay competitions as well as in Netball, Junior Monarch and Talent Teen Competitions, attest to this. Today students and teachers are challenged to continue keeping lit our “lamp of knowledge, wisdom and virtue”. We are called to diligence as expressed by our motto “Labor Omnia Vincit” – Hard Work Conquerors All.

Briefings from Rebuild Dominica President on OAS Meeting with PM Skerrit and Ambassador Henderson

Rebuild Dominica Inc (RD) shares the position taken at the OAS Meeting with PM Skerrit and Ambassador Henderson on the evening of Tuesday October 10, 2017.

3 Recommendations from Rebuild Dominica

  1. A government of national unity.
  2. A national reconstruction conference soonest – inclusive of government , NGO, private sector and civil society.
  3. A national reconstruction commission grounded in the ethic of bipartisanship and comprised of government, Opposition and technocrats capable of managing the rebuilding in an inclusive and coordinated fashion.

The PM said he was opposed to a government of national unity as he did not have the constitutional right to do such a government. We disagreed on that point. As the majority party the PM can always choose to include non-Labour Party ministers.

The PM said he was supportive of a national reconstruction conference and commission. However, he would give no date other than to say it would be during the recovery phase.

I stressed that it was almost a month since Hurricane Maria and no briefing has included the Opposition. He felt the Opposition had assented itself and he could not direct them or tell them to fix roofs or roads. He missed the point that as PM he must lead.

He was critical of those who criticized and intimated it was unpatriotic. Several of us responded that constructive criticism is essential in a democracy especially at times of crisis.

Conclusion and Next Steps

We must continue to press for a unity government, a national reconstruction conference, and national reconstruction commission. It must be done soonest as more and more people are living.

The PM said his visit to the World Bank was positive and the donor community was coming through with grants and loans. He spoke reassuringly that Ross Medical School would stay, salaries would be paid, the national debt payment for September 2017 was paid, and civil servants who worked well would be kept. If the civil servant did not work well they would be fired.

The PM also spoke of upcoming meetings with Elon Musk regarding solar, Carnival Cruise Lines and that General Electric donated a 3MW solar system.

The concern expressed was whether the government possessed the capacity to handle the mammoth task ahead without a commission possessed of a nonpartisan spirit and requisite competence.

The PM gave an almost cheerful view of things whereas we felt such a disposition is only reasonable where we are organized in an inclusive fashion, government, Opposition and other.

We closed with a stirring prayer by Pastor St Clair Mitchell. About 22 – 25 persons attended.

Ambassador Henderson was pleasant but said nothing. The PM spoke alone. No aides spoke. The questions were polite. It got a bit testy when I forged on: insisting that the national emergency required action as we proposed such was in the national interest.

The atmosphere was civil and the points were made. The PM had some supporters who took his view but they were not impolite.

Let us press on with grassroots empowerment organization at home and abroad. This is key because it is my humble view that the dire state of the nation is yet to be fully grasped and the PM seems unwilling to reach out as dynamically as is required – despite his promises to be inclusive. He does not appreciate that alone – or reliant on his regime – the huge task of reconstruction cannot be done. Time will tell.

However we must act to do what we can, in organized fashion, best we can. We must empower ourselves and communities by organized and united action – to include organizing at home and abroad in groups and all with each other. If you are not part of an aid group, join one. Make your presence felt in concrete fashion beyond verbal or written discharge. In so doing we build power among our people and not rely on a hegemonic regime to do for us what we won’t do for ourselves.

God bless you all.

 

Gabriel J. Christian, Esq.

President of Rebuild Dominica, Inc.

Dr. Dale Dangleben – A Trauma Surgeon Reports on Dominica

Post-Hurricane Maria report by Rebuild Dominica Medical Director, Dr. Dale Dangleben, a Pennsylvania-based trauma surgeon who rushed to the aid of his stricken country: Dominica.

 

Dr. Dale Dangleben is a concerned and attentive surgeon specializing in critical care caring for the Camp Hill, PA community. Dr. Dangleben obtained his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University. He also completed his internship and residency at Lehigh Valley Health Network. He continued his training by completing a fellowship in trauma and critical care at the same institution.

Selassie Fox of NASA Joins Rebuild Dominica As A Volunteer

A dear friend of our Caribbean and humanity, Selassie Fox of NASA, has joined Rebuild Dominica as a volunteer. He will be mobilizing his friends at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and around the Washinton, D.C. Metro area to assist with Hurricane Maria relief efforts as well as relief efforts for our other islands in their time of need.

Ask your family and friends to join Selassie and other volunteers in this call to volunteer and aid the relief effort at http://www.RebuildDominica.org!

See the video clip of this announcement as shared on Facebook by clicking HERE!