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Paradise Lost

DSC00026The recession is affecting us all; there is little doubt about that. Tales of high unemployment, low investment activity and failing economies are abound, but what of the picturesque paradise isles of the Caribbean? I turn on my digital cable box everyday and see these isles still being advertised within the United States and England as the places to go to escape the hardships of home. Rich in colour, culture and heritage, they offer no less than a complete Utopia, where the main catchphrase is “No Problem”.

So is this the truth? What of these lands and their people? Are these true paradise isles, unaffected by the world about them? Could ideal locations like the ones described  still be possible in this era of globalization? Is the recession not worldwide and affecting us all?

Indel is a 32 year old University graduate.  Having obtained both his BA and MA at a recognized institute in London, this St. Lucian born scholar went on to obtain employment at a highly recognized television station within the city. He started as an intern, worked hard and progressed well over the next few years within the company. Determination to succeed helped him along the way, and his talents and dedication to his work were recognized.

Indel was born and brought up within a small fishing village on the West coast of St. Lucia called Anse La Raye. His father a fisherman and mother, a market vendor. They scrimped and saved to put all of their children through school.  At the time, this was a major feat, as universal education was not available to all of the children on the island. Competition was fierce for children to exceed with no exception, beating out their peers so that they could claim a place within Secondary school. Those who failed to do so, simply had to find work or gain an apprenticeship.Something that was and still is hard to do at the tender age of twelve.

“I had a friend that went on to work in the garden with his father- That was like their plantation, their little farm- Learning all that you needed to know about banana farming” he reflects as he leans back on the porch of his grandmothers old wooden house. “I just saw him yesterday, he is still farming bananas. He gets by on it, can support his family, you know, (although banana farming is not what it used to be in St. Lucia)”.

Indel was one of the lucky ones. He and two of his brothers, by obtaining good grades,   were able to go onto secondary schools, obtaining scholarships through private companies who aided their parents with the financial burden. From there, they all went on to sit A’ Level’s. Whilst his brothers stopped there, Indel wanted more. With the aid of his extended family overseas, he was able to obtain a student loan and acquire a place at the University of Westminster. He worked a part time student job as he studied, helping him maintain himself through his BA and then onto his Masters. On completion of his studies, an impressed lecturer got him an interview at an institution that was soon to become his place of work. Things were on the up for Indel. He secured his legal status in England, put his head down and was feeling very good about life. However, everything took a turn for the worse at the end of 2007.  Cut backs and layoffs were becoming common place at the station where he worked and he was among 150 people to be let go in the second wave of job cuts.

He laments, “I was not worried though because I now had the experience as well as the qualifications behind me… but… well… it just did not work out”.

He soon found himself 6 months out of work. This along with the fact that Indel was still not a British citizen led him to believe that it may just be better for him to return home and regroup, to try and decide what his next move should be.

“The return home was even more of a disappointment”, he continued “I am now a fully qualified individual on an island that has no vacancies for someone in my field who is as qualified as I am. Sure there are jobs, it has been over a year since I have worked so I am not being too picky, I have been applying for them, but I am being told that I am over qualified for them”.  He smiles.

“I look back on the time when I left to further my studies in England and everyone was saying how lucky I was, but now I’m back and I cannot get employment anywhere. I sometimes contemplate as to whether things would not have been better for me if I had become a banana farmer or fisherman or something like that. If I had stayed and acquired a skill I could use. My friends in those professions are still working and doing ok for themselves and I am just sat here with certificates and qualifications in hand. You travel so far to become something bigger, but I now wonder if there was even a point to it. Sorry if I sound self pitying, but this is how I feel. To do so much, to try and find your place in a strange land, and then… I love St. Lucia; this is and always will be my home. But right now, I’m just lost….”

And so this is paradise. It might not be recognizable to the masses, but this is the reality.  Many may run here trying hard to escape the hardships of home, but remember to others, this is home and here is their hardship.Image


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