Address to open Community Development Month May 2018

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (May 04, 2018) — The following is an address by Hon. Eric Evelyn Minister of Community Development in the Nevis Island Administration on the observance of Community Development Month May 2018.

Good evening fellow citizens and residents.

I greet you at this the start of Community Development Month being celebrated during the month of May.  Let us first however clarify what is community development. The United Nations defines community development as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems. It is only through this action that the community becomes more vital, not just economically, but as a strong functioning community in itself. As a result of this, the community becomes both the means and the end of community development.

The programmes provided by Department of Community Development are vital to improve the wellbeing of all community members. However, the intangible benefits of community development, such as, safety, social cohesion and people empowerment can only be achieved through attitudinal change, improvement in networking, a different mindset towards addressing community issues, and the use of community assets in innovative ways. Effective Community development does not only improve the economic situation of a community but also creates a strong functioning and empowered community.

The Department of Community Development is inviting the Nevisian community to join in the celebration Community Development Month 2018. The celebration hopes to bring together government officials, businesses, churches, non-profit organizations, community groups, government establishments and the wider community to demonstrate the impact of community togetherness and to celebrate new approaches to creating communities of lasting value.

This year marks the 4th celebration of Community Development Month. The theme for this year’s observance is: “Enhancing Character and Community with Traditional Values”.  The theme underscores the important role that traditional values play in the social and economic welfare of Nevisian communities.  In former times, communities were mostly family orientated, industrious, honest, content, caring, unselfish and religious. Religion played a major role in the social development of community members as it formed the basis for good morals, norms and values. However, in recent years communities that were once held together by traditional family bonds, cultural norms and values, local self-help groups, religious and other organizations are now assimilating new norms and behaviours which have led to individualism and deterioration in the social fabric of the society.

Community Development Month serves as an opportunity for the Department to highlight and celebrate its significant successes in facilitating skills training in the culinary arts, sewing, plumbing, electricity, and art and craft. The Department also established community councils, provided support for community events such as the Barnes Ghaut Breadfruit Festival, Jessup’s Fish Fiesta, St. Paul’s Community Day and Rawlin’s Extravaganza and Premier Cricket League. The Department will also seek to highlight its contribution to the preservation of our cultural heritage by the revival of several traditional folklore dances dubbed “Miracle on Mainstreet”, as well as the revival of St. Thomas’ Fest, Gingerama, and Calypso Show Competition for WINFEST 2017.

Other programmes administered by the Department are the Academic Enhancement Programme, Homework Assistance Programme, and the registration and certification of community groups and NGO’s. The Department is also committed to the upgrade and maintenance of community centres, so as to provide centres with a clean environment and ambience for our national and international users.

However, to address the issue of crime and other antisocial behaviours that have now plagued our society, the Month’s activities will also focus on our traditional values with activities such as a panel discussion on VON radio addressing the theme, and a presentation titled ‘Rooted in History’ by Leonard Stapleton. This presentation will be done at a community centre in all of the parishes on the island. Moreover, in addition to Open Centre Day at the community centres, the Department in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture will celebrate Community Development Day and Pork festival, on Friday, 25th May next to the DR Walwyn Plaza in Charlestown.

The church as a bedrock of Nevisian traditional norms and values will also be highlighted throughout the month, as a social force, as it encourages persons to live by the golden rule, and develop their minds and abilities, to better their lives and to help their communities. Community Out Reach activities will be done in collaboration with the church. There will also be a Liturgical Dance and Gospel Song Competition and a Gospel Concert to support and encourage activities related to Christianity. It is hoped that these events will positively impact the entire community and bring about meaningful change.

The ministry applauds the Department of Community Development and the many other advocates of community development for your commitment to improving the economic, social and cultural conditions of the Nevisian communities.

I solicit the general public’s support for the activities of Community Development Month 2018.  We ask you to help us make our communities across Nevis better for all of us.  It now gives me great pleasure in declaring Community Development Month 2018 officially open.

Thank you and May God bless us all.

May 1, 2018.

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