As we celebrate World Humanitarian Day 2013 today, let me remind you how fortunate we are as a people and a nation.
As we look around the world, there are millions of people who are suffering, either from lack of food or shelter. Many countries are involved in violent conflict and their peoples are not sure what tomorrow will bring. There are many first world nations who are suffering. Look at how many people died in the floods in China yesterday. Scores of prisoners were killed in Egypt yesterday. A few weeks ago, many passengers were killed in a train crash in Spain.
We in Trinidad and Tobago are very fortunate. While storms and hurricane bear down on the Caribbean each year, Trinidad and Tobago has been spared, mainly because of our geographical position. Not so for our Caricom neighbours, such as Haiti and Jamaica who have bore the brunt of the violent hurricanes in the last few years.
We must not forget what Hurricane Ivan did to Grenada in 2004. This country, through the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, were first on the ground in Grenada to lend a hand to our neighbour. When the smaller islands suffered through hurricanes, we were again on the ground to assist. We will continue to lend a hand to our brothers and sisters in the region.
When Haiti was involved in political strife in 1994, the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment was part of the United Nations Peacekeeping forces which went in and brought stability to the country.
The big floods of August 2012 in Trinidad must remind all of us that we are not immune to disaster. We suffered millions of dollars in losses, but one positive thing in all of this, was the response of the emergency units – the Office of Management and Disaster Preparedness (OPM) and the Red Cross Society of Trinidad and Tobago. People across the political divide came together to assist, and that is what makes us unique.
We are not a selfish people. I recall just a few days ago, two men jumped into the caiman-infested Guayamare River to rescue to a motorist whose car plunged into the deep waters. Had it not been for these two men, the driver would have drowned. It showed that we as a people, are great humanitarians and will go beyond the call of duty to assist a brother or sister.
We must, as a people find a solution for all the violence in East Port-of-Spain. While many would say that crime is kept in and around East Port-of-Spain, it is something which affects all us. There were weeping mothers and fathers watching over their sons and daughters who died in their teens.
We, as a people, must come together and show true passion, and assist those in need. At the end of the day, we must have a better Trinidad and Tobago for the generations to come.
As we celebrate World Humanitarian Day 2013, let us keep that commitment of love for our fellow brothers and sisters.