We Can Do It, If We Try!


Caribupdate Weekly
14 January 2016

Two recent events, beyond the pride and joy they brought to the individuals, family members, friends and other Grenadians, have poignant lessons that are noteworthy.

One event involved a Birchgrove-born child who, according to his mother, always wanted to fly like a bird. Alwyn Donovan didn’t end up literally flying like a bird but achieved the next best thing; he became an airline pilot. He’s now Captain Donovan, a pilot for JetBlue Airways; and the first Grenadian to fly a JetBlue plane to homeland Grenada.

Four days after Donovan landed the JetBlue plane at Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) in St George, the OECS Monetary Council announced that Grenadian economist Timothy Antoine had been chosen as the new governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The ECCB is one of the region’s premier institutions; along the lines of the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The West Indies cricket team used to be — once upon a time, very long ago — one of those preeminent institutions; now, our cricket is in shambles.

Anguilla’s Chief Minister Victor Banks, who also is chairman of the Monetary Council, described Antoine as “an outstanding Caribbean professional with a clear vision for the ECCB’’; and as someone who has “demonstrated commitment to the development of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.”

For his part, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that Antoine has “obviously distinguished himself over the years, to the point where he has earned regional and international respect for his work and his integrity. He is above reproach, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. I have absolutely no doubt that he will serve to the best of his ability, and is the most suitable candidate to succeed Sir Dwight Venner, who has been an upstanding governor’’.

The opposition National Democratic Congress, in a statement congratulating Antoine, said “the party joins with the rest of the nation in celebrating this moment of pride with this son of the soil and wishes him every success as he embarks upon this  new journey’’.

Our columnist, former Culture Minister Arley Salimbi Gill, commented: “Timothy Antoine, from his school days, always demonstrated strong leadership qualities. He always carried himself with great dignity and his religious upbringing would have played no little part in developing his character as a human being.”

In the euphoria over the achievements of Donovan and Timmy — as Antoine is called — it is important that we examine the factors that contributed to their success.

Both Grenadian men had dreams and were backed by supportive families. Timmy publicly thanked his mother, father, siblings and wife for their relentless support. Similarly did Donovan; his mother and other relatives were at MBIA to welcome him when he arrived here, captaining the JetBlue aircraft.

So, the first lesson from Timmy’s and Donovan’s lives is the crucial role of families in the upbringing and nurturing of children. But, as saying goes, you can only bring a horse to the well, but you can’t make the animal drink. Both Timmy and Donovan carried their individual responsibilities. To fulfill their career dreams, they needed to study — and to study hard.

Timmy, for example, moved from top student at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School to earning a BSc degree in Economics with Management from the University of the West Indies; and an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics.

He’s been one of the youngest persons ever to be appointed a permanent secretary in Grenada, and has served as an advisor to the World Bank Group, a director of the CDB and as a member of the ECCB’s board of governors.

The point is that neither Timmy nor Donovan could have reached as far as they have without a solid education. Education is invaluable because it is mobile. If you cannot find a job in St George’s, St Patrick, St John, Carriacou or Petite Martinique, your chances of finding one in Trinidad, Jamaica, the United States, Canada, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia or Russia, are exponentially increased the more skilled, trained, experienced and academically qualified you are. Conversely, you are more likely to be stuck in a low-paying job in Grenada — or move to a parallel low-paying job in some other country — with just a basic primary school education.

So, the lessons from the Timmy and Donovan experiences are that we — all Grenadians — can achieve our dreams with family support and the pursuit of higher education. There are other factors, too, of course; like seeking and receiving God’s guidance and blessings. And, sometimes as well, a little luck.

But the bottom line is, we can all do it — achieve — if we try.

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