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Economy Not Expected to Affect Montserrat’s White Paper Status

By Bennette Roach & Denis Chabrol

Despite four years of volcanic activity that has seen Montserrat’s recovering economy collapse and the island forced to depend on grant-in-aid budgetary support from Britain, Baroness Scotland believes that the status of the island is on par with its sister territories and would not influence the outcome of talks on the White Paper.

"I think it (grant-in-aid) doesn’t have any effect on your position at all," Baroness Scotland told a news briefing Thursday at the end of her two-day visit here, her first since her appointment as Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories. "Montserrat is in the same position as any other overseas territory. Montserrat has all the advantages of the other OTs (Overseas Territories) and I expect Montserrat to take advantage in a similar way."

Britain’s White Paper entitled "Partnership for Progress and Prosperity" with the remaining territories provides for, among other things, the granting of full British citizenship and, according to Baroness Scotland, that status would guarantee equity to all British nationals outside the United Kingdom.

"I think it’s merely a question of equity and the Overseas Territories are territories for which Britain is responsible and it is of increasing importance to maintain equity amongst all our territories and this is what we are committed to doing," she said.

The newly appointed Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said that the major challenge facing her in managing the OTs is "to make partnership a reality" through "an open and frank process" in keeping with the theme of the White Paper.

" I would like to see that relationship strengthened and become a real creative partnership," she said.

NEW ELDERLY SUPPORT

As part of continued budgetary support, Baroness Scotland announced an additional £1.3- million package of assistance to volcano-ravaged Montserrat to assist in the housing and care of the elderly.

In making the announcement, she said the money would be used to assist about 250 elderly, disabled and long-term ill persons with housing.
It is envisaged that there would be a sheltered-housing programme, supported by a warden and a community-care project, to assist other elderly persons to lead "an independent life" in their own homes with help from visiting care givers.

That package, she said, was in addition to the £75 million allocated at the beginning of a Country Policy Plan. £31.5 million of the £75 million have been used so far.
Montserrat’s £7.46-million budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year, she said, was also being topped up with £511,000 to be used for refurbishing churches and schools, and the continuation of a social management programme.

GOVERNMENT COMPUTER SYSTEMS UPGRADED

As the end of 1999 fast approaches, Baroness Scotland also announced that £50,000 was being allocated to "help modernise" the computer system of the Montserrat Government to ensure it does not collapse because of the Millennium Bug.

Since the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano in 1995 began to severely affect the then 10,000 residents, the British government has allocated £135 million.

The British Minister said that she was "impressed with the development of public services" but "horrified" at the destruction of the southern region of the island after an aerial view and guided land-tour of the area.
"I was horrified by the devastation of the south, which very much looks almost like a lunar landscape and is almost unbearable to think how many people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their history and their communities," she said.
Declaring that "I have a much better understanding now of problems," Baroness Scotland pledged the continued support of the British Government, including getting a soft-mortgage scheme "up and running" by next month.
"It’s been a matter of really grave disappointment to Her Majesty’s Government that that has not been pursued more speedily, and the frustration that I think has been felt in Montserrat I think has been echoed with even greater resonance in Great Britain.

The Baroness' full itinerary was kept from the press and her press interview was brief, but it was reported at the end that she visited Plymouth, had a fly-over tour of the devastated areas, visited schools and the hospital, as well as the Lookout Housing development along with other British funded projects.

She was guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the Governor and a luncheon hosted by the Chief Minister where a small cross section of public and private sector were in attendance. Later Baroness Scotland reported that she felt she had not missed any of the 4,500 to 5,000 residents on Montserrat.


New Territories Minister Sees Montserrat’s Plight First-hand

As another 20 of the 150 British-funded houses were handed over at Lookout Village on Wednesday, Chief Minister David Brandt appealed to newly appointed Dependent Territories Minister Baroness Scotland for more aid after her first-hand view of volcanic devastation.

"I am glad that you have come. I am glad that you have flown around and have seen the devastation in the south....and now you have seen it, when we put our case, it could relate to something," he told the Baroness before the crowd.

Baroness Scotland, in her brief remarks, acknowledged the severity of the crisis and pointed out that housing was top priority of the British government to cushion the effects of the natural disaster.

"I know that housing is in desperate need in Montserrat, and having visited this morning and flown around the island, I have seen how greatly people have suffered," said Baroness Scotland, who recalled her grandfather living here.

She expressed the view that Lookout would become a "vibrant, positive community" and that it would make a "a very great contribution" towards improving the standard of living of Montserratians.

Mrs. Sarita Francis, Director of Housing, said that while Montserrat was grateful for the 150 houses funded by Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), there were still 300 families in need of houses.

So far Britain's DFID has approved £17.2 million for the construction of 600 direct- and self-built houses.

Preparations are being made for 220 additional house lots to be made available, in addition to another project for the construction of 30 sheltered units.

The Chief Minister also told Baroness Scotland, in her first visit to Montserrat, that islanders were only able to recoup 35 percent of their savings from the Montserrat Building Society because insurance companies gave only seven days’ notice before canceling coverage on private homes, many of them mortgaged..

"There is not one Montserratian who has not lost and several persons have been rendered bankrupt, but the physical damage can be rebuilt. The emotional damage is what we fear," Mr.Brandt added.

CM Brandt recieves keys from Baroness Scotland

Mr. Charles Scott, Manager of Brown & Root's local operations, handed over the keys to Baroness Scotland, who received them on behalf of the British government, after which she presented them to the Chief Minister.

After gratefully receiving the keys on behalf of Montserrat, Mr. Brandt said:

"We do not want to develop a culture of dependency...all we are asking is for a chance to start over again. We are fortunate in the sense that we are a dependent territory, because if we were independent, I don't know who we could have depended on."

CM Brandt

While the Chief Minister expressed the hope that the British Minister for Dependent Territories would apply her legal skills, as a Queens Counsel, to advocate positions on behalf of Montserrat at the level of the British government, he acknowledged that all the island's requests would not be granted.

"We realise that you have your duties to perform and it is not everything that we want we will get because you are not representing yourself but you are representing the British Government and whatever we do there must be justification for it," he said.


EDITORIAL

"Good Tidings and Warm Good Will, But What Didn’t Baroness Learn?"

Her expressions were the same and reached the same depths in our hearts as those of her predecessor Baroness Liz Symmons, who had left a lasting impression on Montserratians after her two visits, one just before the fatal June 25, 1997. volcano fall-out and shortly after.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, was just appointed as the Minister responsible for Overseas Territories. It was her first trip overseas in her new position and Montserrat was included in her itinerary. This brings back that distasteful reminder that only the "golden elephant" lady has yet to visit us, which, I'm sure, would bring some closure.

The Baroness didn't disappoint us and was delighted to announce that she was a bearer of good tidings, bringing us news of approved sums for projects to get off the ground. Even though there seemed some disagreement between herself and Governor Abbott as to whether the sums were additional or part of the allocated £75 million, what she had say of her impressions about our devastation was most familiar.

"I was horrified by the devastation of the south, which very much looks almost like a lunar landscape and is almost unbearable to think how many people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their history and their communities."

This was not because she is a Dominican, because every one before her expressed the same sentiments. What is difficult to understand is why we still haven't heard someone admit that our situation is far different from the "usual" disaster, where communities can dig through the rubble, pick up the pieces and continue. Hurricane Hugo was one such disaster, and we were just recovering from that with the loss of the off-shore banking business and other privileges when the volcano jumped up at us.

About three months ago, amidst protests of "difficulties" from H.E. Governor Abbott, the Chief Minister promised members of the South of Belham (SOB) Committee that estimates would be prepared for the clean-up process, roads would be cleaned to facilitate this, but he was not able to keep this promise. He did this, no doubt, based on statements from Dr. Baxter such as: "However, consideration should be given to regularly removing accumulations of ash on the roads on a regular basis, taking advantage of the coming wet season."

The Governor himself had said earlier that "cursory reading of Baxter's report leaves the impression that, with some cleaning we should be able to consider opening Isles Bay for reoccupation." But perhaps we need to pay more attention to the words used by the Governor.

When the Chief Minister said that the money will be provided once the time is right, should he not have told people that everything hinged on the Baxter Report, since DFID would not even look at estimates or the like?

Months later the "full" Baxter Report is finally out, with diagrams and results of ash monitoring covering June/July, but only now are the projects being written up. Most importantly, the report says: "the reoccupation of areas south of the Belham Valley should be based on the same principles that have guided the reoccupation of Old Towne and Salem." These are fairly well known and also fairly simple.

Space does not allow full discussion of these problems, but there is a certain amount of disorganisation in the information, will and uncertainty in the desires of those responsible to provide performance.

The Governor, at one point, suggests that there is difficulty finding the money to aid the process of reoccupation South of Belham, saying that the CPP funds are over-committed. But yesterday, trying to address the matter in the presence of Baroness Scotland during her press briefing, the Governor said:

"Money (from the £75 million) is very, very flexible,"

The closure of St. George's Hill provides an area of some confusion, but it has not been without explanations. In March this year, in the Scientific and Hazards Assessment of the volcano, the scientists said that in areas South of Belham no longer part of the Exclusion Zone "the annualised risk of fatality for residents in one of these areas…estimated to be 1:50,000 or VERY LOW." This with NO MAGMATIC ACTIVITY.

But, how do we connect the new restrictions, given NO MAGMATIC ACTIVITY, with the inaction of reoccupation efforts by the authorities? It should be noted for the comfort of those wishing to look at the devastation at a required safe distance, that although St. George's Hill provides a real vintage point, Richmond Hill is not far behind.

The "penny wise and pound foolish" disaster which continues at Belham Valley should no longer surprise us. As a close friend put it: "Had they embarked on a reasonable engineering effort to minimize damage to Belham Bridge and its environs, golf course and homes, the budgeted minimal funds might have escalated to unmanageable amounts, as they did with our new permanent Temporary Government Headquarters.

The opportunity was not afforded to draw some of these things to the Baroness' attention, unfortunately, Baroness Scotland was afforded the opportunity to visit Plymouth, this no doubt with all the necessary precautions in place, but that still does not explain why the full itinerary of her whereabouts was kept secret from the press.

Just like the Chief Minister and his Minister of Education, we can hope that her visit may bring further change of hearts in the way HMG looks at Montserrat and its attempt at starting all over again.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR


SCRIPTURE VERSE THIS WEEK

Shaped by Love

We are what (God) has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. - Ephesians 2:10

A retired woman I know spends her days working with children who have been affected in some way by HIV/AIDS. Providing care and nurture for these children brings joy and satisfaction. She likens the love she gives them to the love given to her by God, whom she knows as a guiding and nurturing parent.

When she was a child, this woman made visits with her parents to a leper colony. At first she feared the people's deformities, but gradually she learned to talk wit them and see them as people just like herself. The religious sisters devoted to working with the colony impressed her with their faith and courage, saying, "We believe that God will either protect us as we do God's work, or that if we die, we die doing God's work." Either way they had no cause for worry.

The lesson instilled in the child carried over in the woman, who as an adult worked with some of God's other vulnerable children. God uses the experiences of our lives to mold and shape us into who God hopes and longs for us to become - people transformed by love.

PRAYER: Lord, teach us who you long for us to be. May our daily actions bring joy and honor to Jesus Christ. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

The love of God calls us to care for those from whom the world draws back.


NEWS BRIEFS

HMG Seeks Consultants’ Proposals To Reopen Bramble in Two Years

View of WH Bramble Airport and Runway damaged by pyroclatis flows and mud flows

The British Government is embarking on an £8-million project to reopen W.H. Bramble Airport in another two years, according to a senior British aid official.

The airport was abruptly closed by fearful authorities on June 25, 1997, the day super-heated pyroclastic flows killed 19 persons in nearby villages. Some months later, the airport terminal was burnt but the 3,200-foot-long runway, capable of regularly accommodating aircraft as large as the Dash 8 (300 series), remained intact.

Mr. Doug Houston, Head of the island’s branch of Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID), said five proposals from consultants to draw up technical specifications were being assessed by the London headquarters of DFID.

Half of the £8 million is to provided by DFID and the remainder would come from the European Union, the official said.

£7 million would be used to resurface and extend the existing airstrip by about 150 feet and build a new terminal building and control tower at Jack Boy Hill, a piece of high ground away from but overlooking the airstrip, he said.

Protection works, to be done at a cost of £1 million, he said, would include the cleaning out of a river channel in an effort to ensure that all future mudflows would run out into the sea instead of going in the direction of the airport.

"Once the river channel has been established and the bunds erected, the mud should flow freely to the sea," Mr. Houston told the Montserrat Reporter.

Rehabilitation of W.H. Bramble Airport is being substituted for the construction of a new airport at one of two locations in the designated safe-north of the island because, according to Mr. Houston," spending what DFID estimated at £80 million was expected to show a "negative rate of return well into the first quarter of the next century.

"It’s clear from previous discussions on island that DFID views that there wouldn’t be sufficient international support for the construction of a new airport because it would be too costly," he added.


Rain-Produced Mud Flows Close Belham River Bridge

Heavy rain during last weekend associated with Hurricane Floyd produced volcanic mudflows, forcing the complete closure of the south of the island, but no one was in danger, a volcano watcher said Monday.
Dr. Simon Young, Chief Scientist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), said the three mudflows in the heavily silted up Belham River area were "quite substantial at their peak," with a lot of new deposits including rock.
The area south of the Belham River, which includes the Daytime Entry Zone (DEZ) and the 24-hour Exclusion Zone, was ordered closed, but was re-opened at 6 a.m. Monday as scheduled after rain ceased.

With the area only passable with four-wheeled drive vehicles, heavy earth-moving machinery was expected later Monday to move some of the huge rocks that were washed down the slopes of the volcano.

"The area was closed because of the off-chance that people can get stuck as they are going across the river itself and there is this danger of people being trapped on the other side and being caught unaware by the speed at which the mudflows happen," Dr. Young told the Montserrat Reporter.
With Tropical Storm Gert heading for the Caribbean, he said the MVO was monitoring the weather as more rainfall could produce more mudflows, like those over the weekend that moved at an average of 7 mph and were sometimes as hot as 10 to 15 degrees Celsius.
"There was quite a lot of steaming related with the mudflow," Dr. Young said, "not necessarily because the mudflows are necessarily coming directly from the dome, but because the water is eroding a channel in the pyroclastic deposits higher up on the volcano."
Pyroclastic deposits of hot volcanic ash, mud and other material retain their super-heated states for a long period of time.
The heavy rainfall also increased the instability of the dome of the Soufriere Hills volcano, causing an ash-cloud late Sunday night, but Dr. Young could not immediately give an assessment of that phenomenon, now a way of life for islanders.

Persons across the island woke up Monday to see light ash deposits but hardly any of the island’s remaining 4,550 residents are alarmed these days by ash-eruptions.


Brandt: ‘LIAT Needs Private Sector Help’

Montserrat's Chief Minister David Brandt has identified the need for a joint-venture between the private sector and the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT.
"We feel that it should be a partnership between the private sector and LIAT in the Caribbean," he told the Montserrat Reporter in a brief interview.
Mr. Brandt envisaged that the private sector could invest in the regional carrier to help ease its financial woes so that "they can make LIAT more efficient and more responsive to the market and more responsive to the needs of the passengers."
He ruled out any financial support to LIAT from Montserrat, drained by four years of volcanic crisis. The airline owes huge undisclosed sums across the region for landing and navigation fees.
"As far as Montserrat is concerned, we would do our utmost from a political point of view but in relation to finance at this time, we do not have the finance," he added.
Amid fears that LIAT would have to shut down in accordance with a recommendation by Speedwing, the British Airways subsidiary, the Chief Minister underlined the importance of ensuring the regional carrier’s survival.

"Several of these islands do not have a jet airstrip and they need LIAT to serve these islands," Mr. Brandt said.

After a meeting last week with Mr. Brandt and St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Lester Bird said the two other leaders rejected a recommendation to write off LIAT's debts.
Mr. Brandt and Mr. Douglas,however, were favourably considering converting the debt into equity and/or a medium-term loan for five years.
Mr. Bird said he plans to discuss with Barbados' Prime Minister Owen Arthur the establishment of a major LIAT base on that island.


Those Who Are Lowly Paid Will Not Be Denied Houses

Photo: Brandt telling Journalists about Social Welfare Review

Chief Minister David Brandt says a "means-test" will be used to determine who will be eligible for houses, even though they may claim to be lowly paid.

"In that Social Welfare Review, when we ask the population to cooperate it is to find out who really can't pay. And who really can't pay, their rent will be paid for them," Mr. Brandt told reporters.

Where the rent has to be paid for someone, he pointed out, the house will not become the property of the occupant.

"In relation to people who are not able to pay, that is not an element that would disqualify them from occupying their homes," he said.

The Social Welfare Review, he said, will also ensure that only those certified as needy will qualify for food vouchers.

"There are many people who are on the food voucher system and should not be on the food voucher system, and it may be that many who are off it should be put on it," he explained.

According to the Chief Minister, the eligibility criteria will ensure that only those who cannot "genuinely" support themselves will be given their rent and enough money for food, clothing and medical care.

The Social Survey, to be used as a benchmark to introduce a minimum favourable standard of living, "is at a very advanced stage" and is expected to be introduced in the 2000 National Budget.

Mr. Brandt warns that those who may argue that they cannot find a job "that I want" will be removed from the social assistance package that government will offer.

Training, he says, will be provided in the interim.


Montserratians from St. Thomas Visit Friends, Families on St. Croix

The volcano crisis in Montserrat has helped scattered Montserratians across the globe.

Montserratian now reside in their home country, in England, Antigua, on the U.S. mainland and as far as Australia.

This separation has made Montserratians all the more conscious of the need to get together as often as they can.

This last weekend, Montserratians who reside on St. Thomas took time out to visit their friends and families on St. Croix.

The visiting Montserratians form part of the Montserrat Emerald Association of St. Thomas and were guests of an organization with the same name.

Heading the St. Thomas group is Rosanna Newton and heading up the St. Croix is Jean Carty-Wade.

Last Saturday night, the visitors and their host met at Midland Restaurant for a social and an interactive evening of fun and laughter.

Other weekend activities included a church service, an island tour including a tour of Hovensa, a beach picnic and lunch at the home of well-known Montserratian Margaret Lawrence.

"This connection with Montserratians is very important to us during this period of recovery, and so every time we get an opportunity to meet we do exactly that," said Ms. Carty-Wade, president of the St. Croix Montserrat Emerald Association.

A highlight of Saturday's function was the singing of the song 'Montserrat is our Home' by the visiting group.

The presentation was certainly very apt for the occasion.

Keeping the spirits of Montserratians alive at Saturday's social were super DJ Glenn Dratte and his 81-year-old grandmother, Julia Weekes; Mary Reid, Susannah Greenaway, Teresa Moses, Daisy Millette, Julia Pond, Teresa Kelly, Amelda Sweeney and children; Kwesi, Sheldon and Sheniecia Sweeney, Avis Reid and children; James and Tessa Reid, Margaret Jacobs and grand-daughters Elvonda and Bianca Jacobs, Monica Howe, Mary Francis, Lucy Reid, Agnes Lindsay and Vincent Griffin. Jean Wade's grandson, Wallen Wade Jr., also attended the event.

The visitors from St. Thomas included Elder Edwin White, Junior Elder Albertha Francis, Alice Tuitt, Kenneth Allen, Erene Allen, Ann Farrington, Joseph Daley, Irene Mills, Laurie Brathwaite, Alice Semper, Simra James, Vickerma Sydney and Jules Illidge.

Helping to provide the entertainment were Lloyd Rennie, the Calypso Monarch and DJ Karl. The food was prepared by members of the association on St. Croix.

The song 'Montserrat is my Home,' was written by Elder J. Edmeade.


Radio Personality Fined For Golf-club Wounding

Popular Radio Montserrat broadcaster Basil Chambers was convicted Monday and fined for lashing another man on his head with a golf club during an alleged gambling-related argument, police said Tuesday.

The incident occurred Friday last during an alleged gambling spree when Chambers struck Gregory Willock on his head, causing a wound which required four stitches.

Deputy Police Commissioner Simon Morson said Chambers was fined EC$200 on a charge of wounding and placed on a one-year good-behaviour bond.

Chambers, who has also worked for the radio service of the Antigua Broadcasting Service (ABS), has one week to pay the fine or serve a two-month jail term.

If he breaks the bond, he would have to pay the court EC$800 in addition to whatever other penalties are imposed.


Montserratians in St.Thomas To Join Millennium Pilgrimage

By Dr. Eddie Donoghue

After a presentation on Sunday at its monthly meeting, members of the Montserrat Association, St Thomas-St John district were overwhelming in favor of participating in next year’s Paradise Regained Millennium Pilgrimage.

The event, scheduled for Montserrat July 8-July 23, 2000, is part of the celebrations being arranged by the Montserrat 2000 Commission, which comes under the chairmanship of Dr. Vernon Buffong.

"The well attended meeting was extremely fruitful," said Dr. Eddie Donoghue. "The attendees had many questions, some of which I was able to address and others which require the input of the Montserrat 2000 Commission itself, with whom I will be meeting on Monday, September 20."

Sunday's meeting of the Association was presided over by President of the Body, Rossaita Newton, with officers Conrad Duberry, Simra James, Vivian Gillard, Alice Tuitt and Kenneth Allen participating. It was determined that upon obtaining satisfactory answers to its questions, the group would give its distinct support to the Paradise Regained Millennium Pilgrimage.


Baroness Scotland Says ‘Yes’ To Regulated Offshore Banking

Britain’s Minister for Overseas Territories Baroness Scotland Thursday expressed support for Montserrat to once again get into the lucrative offshore banking sector, providing it is "well-regulated."
"The British government view in relation to offshore banking is not that it should be expunged," Baroness Scotland told reporters at the end of a two-day visit. "It is that it should be well regulated and monitored so that it is a good and honest form of industry, and therefore there is no reason why Montserrat should not compete along with the other Overseas Territories but within a properly regulated and controlled market." About 10 years ago, the United Kingdom government moved in and all but quashed the offshore banking sector amid allegations that the island had on its register several phony offshore banks.
A clean-up operation of Montserrat’s offshore bank register was done and even though the granting of licenses has been put under the purview of the Governor, none has been since registered.
Now Montserrat is searching for alternative sources of revenue after four years of volcanic activity wiped out light-manufacturing industries and significantly reduced tourist dollars, but according to Baroness Scotland, all of Britain’s remaining territories "are going to be encouraged to apply the same rules so there should be a fair as opposed to unfair playing field."
She said she expected that the Chief Ministers of Dependent Territories would discuss the matter with her at a meeting of the Consultative Council expected to be held next month in London.


Phone Company Starting Satisfaction Survey

Cable and Wireless will from next Monday embark on a three-week survey to find out what its customers

think of the quality of phone service they are getting, according to General Manager Neville Dublin.

"We rely quite heavily on receiving customer feedback from our customer satisfaction survey; and it is this survey that guides us in making improvements to customer services," Dublin was quoted as saying in a phone company statement.

Cable and Wireless said the Customer Satisfaction Survey was part of the phone company’s "promise to listen, understand and act upon what customers think."

The findings of the survey are expected to be published later.

Customers would be selected randomly and would be interviewed by telephone and asked questions about the type of service Cable & Wireless provides, their satisfaction with the company's quality of service and its ability to provide them with quick and accurate information.

Twice a year Cable & Wireless uses an independent market research company to talk to over 7,000 customers across the region.

This study looks at a whole range of service elements from the length of time it takes to provide service to the level of politeness and courtesy customers receive.

" We were able to see from former surveys that customers were not satisfied with our rates.

And now we have begun to address that issue by announcing lower international rates effective October 1st," Dublin added.

Mr. Dublin went on to stress that the results of the September 1999 survey are crucial to the Company's commitment to provide an excellent service.

"We are not assuming what our customers want, we're asking them. This feedback is extremely valuable to us.

"It helps to pinpoint those areas that need development so that we can focus attention on them. It also enables the company to set demanding improvement targets for our management and staff who are increasingly measured against these levels of performance," he said.

With customers in 70 countries, Cable & Wireless is a major global telecommunications business with revenue of around 8 billion pounds sterling in the year ended March 1999 and over 50,000 employees. Its businesses around the world offer a range of services spanning broadband data and Internet access, fixed and mobile voice, as well as interactive entertainment and information.


New Territories Minister Sees Montserrat’s Plight First-hand

As another 20 of the 150 British-funded houses were handed over at Lookout Village on Wednesday, Chief Minister David Brandt appealed to newly appointed Dependent Territories Minister Baroness Scotland for more aid after her first-hand view of volcanic devastation.

"I am glad that you have come. I am glad that you have flown around and have seen the devastation in the south....and now you have seen it, when we put our case, it could relate to something," he told the Baroness before the crowd.

Baroness Scotland, in her brief remarks, acknowledged the severity of the crisis and pointed out that housing was top priority of the British government to cushion the effects of the natural disaster.

"I know that housing is in desperate need in Montserrat, and having visited this morning and flown around the island, I have seen how greatly people have suffered," said Baroness Scotland, who recalled her grandfather living here.

She expressed the view that Lookout would become a "vibrant, positive community" and that it would make a "a very great contribution" towards improving the standard of living of Montserratians.

Mrs. Sarita Francis, Director of Housing, said that while Montserrat was grateful for the 150 houses funded by Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), there were still 300 families in need of houses.

So far Britain's DFID has approved £17.2 million for the construction of 600 direct- and self-built houses.

Preparations are being made for 220 additional house lots to be made available, in addition to another project for the construction of 30 sheltered units.

The Chief Minister also told Baroness Scotland, in her first visit to Montserrat, that islanders were only able to recoup 35 percent of their savings from the Montserrat Building Society because insurance companies gave only seven days’ notice before canceling coverage on private homes, many of them mortgaged..

"There is not one Montserratian who has not lost and several persons have been rendered bankrupt, but the physical damage can be rebuilt. The emotional damage is what we fear," Mr.Brandt added.

Mr. Charles Scott, Manager of Brown & Root's local operations, handed over the keys to Baroness Scotland, who received them on behalf of the British government, after which she presented them to the Chief Minister.

After gratefully receiving the keys on behalf of Montserrat, Mr. Brandt said:

"We do not want to develop a culture of dependency...all we are asking is for a chance to start over again. We are fortunate in the sense that we are a dependent territory, because if we were independent, I don't know who we could have depended on."

While the Chief Minister expressed the hope that the British Minister for Dependent Territories would apply her legal skills, as a Queens Counsel, to advocate positions on behalf of Montserrat at the level of the British government, he acknowledged that all the island's requests would not be granted.

"We realise that you have your duties to perform and it is not everything that we want we will get because you are not representing yourself but you are representing the British Government and whatever we do there must be justification for it," he said.


Bank of Montserrat Seeks More Customers, Higher Profits

As Montserrat slowly bounces back as one of the prosperous islands in the Caribbean, the Bank of Montserrat (BOM) has increased its interest rates by half a percent as one of several measures geared to widen its customer base.

"We’d like to give something extra to depositors because we’d like to increase more depositors," a senior BOM official told the Montserrat Reporter.

The BOM recorded a EC$268,000 profit for 1998 and, according to the official, is projecting for this year a profit that is "well over this." No figures were provided.

Asked how the bank was able to increase its interest rate on savings deposits, given the numerous bad-debt cases caused by destruction of properties in the south of the island and the exodus of persons, the official said:

"We have done the maths with that and it is not really an issue at the moment,"

Now that the BOM has resumed increased lending , the official said that loans were mainly for the construction of buildings in the safe north of the island.

"Over the last year, we have renewed our lending pretty aggressively and post-volcanic debts are pretty well serviced," the senior banker explained.

As the only remaining commercial bank that is fully active in major areas of banking, the BOM said in a statement that it "is continuously making efforts to improve the skills of its employees and to maximize the effectiveness of the use of those skills to provide more efficient banking services to its customers.

During this month, the bank was scheduled to have a second staff retreat earlier this week, and two training courses have been organised to include staff members of the BOM.

The first was a training course for supervisors, to be conducted by Mrs. Joan Mathurin of the East Caribbean Institute of Banking from Sept. 11 to 16 at the Training Centre of the National Development Foundation (NDF). Participants were expected to come from the NDF and the Civil Service.

The other training programme was one focussing on Quality Customer Care, to be conducted by Mrs. E. Bryce Roberts of the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Banking at the Government Training Centre.

That training session was expected to be held from September 13 to 17 at Government Training Centre at Brades.


ECCB Continues Exploratory Work For Sub-Regional Stock Exchange

Exploratory work is continuing to determine the feasibility of establishing an Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange Registry and Central Securities Depository, according to a statement by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB).

"The project will establish an Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange Registry and Central Securities Depository, along with the necessary ancillary and enabling infrastructure for their efficient and effective operation," the ECCB said.

A team comprising officials of the ECCB and the Intrados Consulting Group visited St. Lucia earlier this week on an "exploratory" mission for the ECCB Capital Market Development Project.

The delegation was expected to conduct market analysis and assessment which would inform the design of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange and its ancillary institutions, as well as the marketing, education and awareness component of the project.

Similar activities have been conducted in St. Kitts and Nevis and plans are on the way to visit the other ECCB member territories in the near future.

During those visits to member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the team has been meeting with the National Steering Committees for Money and Capital Markets, financial institutions, heads of private businesses, the media and other players in the public and private sectors to get feedback on issues that must be contemplated in the design.

The ECCB and the consultants had also planned to use the opportunity to raise preliminary design issues and initiate discussions on the same.

When established, the Securities Exchange Registry and Central Securities Depository would have facilities for the secondary trading in shares of listed public companies, government securities and other debt instruments.

"The current series of consultations is an important step forward in the ECCB's initiative to develop a single financial space in the Eastern Caribbean by the creation of regional money and capital markets," the ECCB added.


REGIONAL NEWS

Girl, 12, Hangs Herself Over Unwanted Sneakers

A 12-year-old girl has committed suicide apparently because she did not like the new sneakers her mother bought for her to return to school, the state-run Guyana Chronicle reported this week.

Samantha Cunningham, the youngest of five children of a family residing at Old Road, La Grange, West Bank Demerara, reportedly hanged herself from a beam in the house Saturday.
The suspected suicide followed an incident with her mother over the footwear the parent had bought for her to turn out to school today.

According to the mother Rose, Samantha, who attended the West Demerara Secondary School, told her about a "brand name" sneakers she saw at a Regent Street store for $13,000 and said she wanted those shoes to go to school.


Two Children Slain, Residents Kill Killer

Kingston, Jamaica, CANA - A mentally ill teenaged man chopped to death two children in Jamaica and angry residents mobbed and chopped him to death in St. James yesterday, according to police.
They identified the dead as Kenroy Simon, 11, Amanda Forbes, 5, and 19-year-old Kevin Gray all of Salt Spring.
Police said Gray killed the visiting children in his house and fled, but residents found and killed him two hours later.


St.Vincent to Probe Prison Conditions

Kingstown, St Vincent, CANA - A government-appointed Commission of Inquiry is today expected to begin probing prison conditions at St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Retired Barbadian Judge Sir Frederick Smith will carry out the investigation, which the government ordered following a spate of violent unrest at the main prison in the capital, Kingstown, in July and August.
He has been asked to assess the general conditions, administration and operations at the prisons, the circumstances which led to the disturbances and the terms and conditions of service for prison officers.


Jamaican Infant’s Death Re-examined

Kingston, Jamaica, CANA - A second post mortem on six-month-old Romero Anderson, whose face was partially eaten by rats in Jamaica last month, revealed that the child died from malnutrition.

Police investigators who released information on the cause of death Monday said the second post mortem revealed severe malnutrition and that injuries on the face were inflicted after death.

The results of this second postmortem mean that Romaro's father, Rudolph Jack, could be charged with manslaughter.


Burnt Dominican Tour Guide Recovering

Roseau, Dominica, CANA - A Dominican tour guide, Stanley Dequental, has been reported in stable condition in a Martinique hospital, after falling into the Boiling Lake last week.

He suffered third degree burns when he lost his grip on his rope and fell 50 feet into the lake, a tourist attraction. Press reports said yesterday Dequental had gone to the lake to retrieve a camera that fell from a tourist the day before. He had recovered the camera and was on his way up when he fell.


New ECIB CEO

Basseterre, St Kitts, CANA - Analdo Bailey is the new Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Bankers (ECIB). Errol Allen, ECIB President has announced the appointment.

Kittitian Bailey, is on secondment from the St Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank, where he began his career in Banking 27 years ago.


GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES

St. Patrick’s Day Activities Identified

A commission appointed by the Government to establish closer ties with Ireland has completed a list of activities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The activities will run from March 11th to 18th.

Among the events planned are the annual Catholic Dinner on March 11th, a church service and cocktail party hosted a His Excellency the Governor on March 12th, a panel discussion lectured by Irish MP Michael D. Higgins and Dr. Howard Fergus on March 13th, and a Street Jam, pub crawl and a leprechaun competition on March 14th.

March 15th will see the hosting of a barbecue night featuring sing along and river dance, while a party will be held on the ferry featuring string band music and video.

On St. Patrick’s Day March 17th the activities begin with the traditional freedom run, followed by Hikes with the forest rangers and tours to view the volcano.

Other main highlights include cultural entertainment featuring the Emerald Community Singers, Voices, String Band music, masquerades, a play and a slave feast.

Celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day will climax with a beach fete and games at Little Bay on March 18th.


Rent-Strapped Will Get Houses

Honourable Chief Minister David Brandt says the government will assist persons or families who are unable to afford rent for the houses at Look Out.

Speaking to reporters after the accepting 20 houses from the British Government today Mr. Brandt said the government would not deny anyone shelter just because they cannot afford the rent.

The cost of the Force 10 and Block work houses are as follows.

For the Force Ten houses 230.00 for the one bedroom, $370.00 for the two bedroom and $600 for the three bedroom.

The block house cost $250.00, $370.00, and $500.00 for the one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom respectively.


Better Power Supply for Manjack

The Montserrat Electricity Services MONLEC says it is upgrading its services in Manjack.
Managing Director Hilton Howson says the company is currently carrying out line improvement work in an effort to improve voltage power, and provide a more reliable service in the area.

He says similar work was carried out in several communities within the past year under a project funded by Department for International Development.

Monlec also installed two major feeds north and south of its power station at Brades.

However Mr. Howson says the utility company is still operating under an emergency situation and from time to time faults have resulted in power cuts across the island.

He is hoping the installation of additional switches would reduce incidents of total blackouts.


First Aid Training On Stream

Disaster District Committee members and the staff at the Emergency Department are undergoing training in first aid techniques.

Permanent Secretary in the Emergency Department Franklyn Michael says the training is part of the Department’s general emergency management programme.

He says the Emergency Department is working as closely as possible with non-government organizations to improve the community’s capacity to handle emergency situations where first aid can be applied.

Mr. Michael says a number of persons trained by the Red Cross will be placed in shelters in the event of a disaster.

Sister Valerie Lewis facilitates the training programme.


Education Funds For Women

The Canadian Teachers Federation has launched a programme to assist disadvantaged girls and women in Montserrat.

The CTF has established a memorial fund in the name of the late Janet Margaret Cass to support professional development activities in Canada and abroad including the Caribbean.
Young girls or women in Montserrat can apply for assistance to pursue or continue their studies in education.

Recipients will receive funds to pay tuition fees, distance education, and the purchase of materials, uniforms day care or transport.

Candidates will be selected by the Montserrat Union of Teachers, which will then send a short-list of applicants to the Caribbean Union of Teachers.

A special women’s committee of the MUT will administer funds for the bursaries.

The successful applicants will be announced on October 5th.


Government Setting Up Economic Affairs Council

Government has moved one step closer towards the establishment of a Council of Economic Affairs (CEA) in accordance with a recommendation by member territories of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). A preparatory meeting was expected to be held earlier this week, involving a wide cross section of organisations.

These included the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce (MCC), Montserrat Allied Workers Union (MAWU), Montserrat Christian Council (MCC), St Patrick’s Credit Union , Rotary and government’s Development Unit.

It is envisaged that the Council on Economic Affairs would act as a forum and a facility for discussion of fiscal and economic issues between the private sector, the public sector and the general public as well as to provide technical input in to the formulation of government policy.

The Council would, therefore, collect data from government and other sources on the Montserrat economy for assessment, deliberate economic issues and discuss matters of economic importance with the Finance Minister.

Issues would also be presented to the Finance Minister, who in the case of Montserrat is Chief Minister Mr David Brandt, in preparation for the annual budget presentation and to conduct reviews of the budget during the fiscal year.

Other tasks of the CEA would include discussion and comment on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Plan and the Country Policy Plan; discuss and comment on the movement of prices, wages, employment and productivity and assess the likely impact of regional and international issues on the local economy.


Government Preparing For South-of- Belham Clean-Up Baxter Report Sends Positive Signals

Debris from the overflowing Belham River

Chief Minister Brandt has said that Government has already put plans in motion to clean up the area.

He said the Department of Public Works has prepared a costing which was expected to be submitted to the Department for International Development (DfID) this week.

The meeting is to discuss plans to clean up Cork Hill, Delvins, Weekes, Foxes Bay and Richmond Hill.

The committee, which comprises property owners south of the Belham River, wants government’s help in making pipe-born available water to assist with the removal of ash and general cleaning.

The Committee also wants assistance in clearing the road and the removal of debris and ash from certain critical sections to facilitate easy access.

In terms of occupation Chief Minister Brandt says no responsible government can tell its citizens to reoccupy an area when it is informed that on medical grounds that it is unsafe to do so.

Mr. Brandt also says it is hoped that the time will soon come when that will take place.

Meanwhile His Excellency Governor Anthony Abbott has sounded a note of caution about the reoccupation of communities south of Belham.

In a letter to the South of Belham Committee Governor Abbott says Dr. Baxter’s initial report may allow the authorities to consider opening Isles Bay for occupation.
However, the Governor says it is likely the position with regard to the other areas in the day Time Entry Zone will be subject to further review following the next rainy season. He told the committee as far as the restoration of services and infrastructure are concerned it is up to the government of Montserrat to define its priorities for expenditure.
According to Governor Abbott the work required may run into several millions of dollars.
He says although the Country Policy Plan (CPP) is over committed some slippage may allow other projects to be advanced or new projects to be introduced.
A review of the CPP is scheduled for the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the latest report on the Health Hazard of Volcanic Ash South of Belham Valley has been presented to the Government of Montserrat.
The report, written by Dr. Peter Baxter of the University of Cambridge in England has left open the possibility that Isles Bay could be re-occupied.
According to Dr. Baxter under the same criteria used to re-occupy Salem, Isles Bay could be re-occupied after appropriate air dust level checks have been made using Dust Traks and cleanup measurers have been taken.
However, he says other areas would not fulfill the criteria and should be reviewed again when the rainy season is over.
The main conclusion in the report is that the future re-occupation of Plymouth and adjoining areas will also have to consider the permanent presence of cristobalite in the ash from the volcano.
This is due to large quantities of historic and recently erupted material found here.
On the positive side, Dr. Baxter says the findings also suggest that this type of ash can be well sequestered by vegetation and topsoil formation in the course of time as has happened on Montserrat in the past.
The Institute of Occupational Medicine, along with Dr. Baxter is preparing a paper on the silicosis risk taking into account all the measured and estimated exposure.
This will include details of the risk assessment so that Montserratians and the authorities can see how judgements on the silicosis risk were originally made.


Finance Ministers Meet in the Caymans

Honourable Chief Minister David Brandt will attend Commonwealth Ministers of Finance meeting in the Cayman Islands next week.

The September 21st to 23rd meeting will take place under the theme "reforming of the international monetary and financial system and possible Commonwealth role in promoting a balanced agenda."

Montserrat will be part of the UK Government’s delegation, which will be led by a Treasury Minister.
Chief Minister Brandt says the meeting will be of major importance to Montserrat, as it would have implications for the offshore financial sector.

Mr. Brandt says the developed countries want to change the rules to give them the right to information about business activities of their citizens in the Overseas Territories.

As the law now stands they can only get information if the person is accused of criminal activity or if they have evidence that criminal acts have been committed.


Crime Falling

There has been an overall reduction in the number of serious crime committed on Montserrat.

According to figures released by the Royal Montserrat Police Force the number of burglaries has reduced by 43 per cent.

In 1994 the number of burglaries committed were 154.

This figure was reduced slightly to one hundred and fifty-one in 1995, one hundred and thirty-three in 1997 and eighty-eight in 1998.

According to Inspector Steve Foster just thirty-three burglaries have been committed so far.

He says the reduction in burglaries could be attributed to the fact that more people are working.

Inspector Foster says the police will remain vigilant for if the construction boom slows down the number of theft and break and entering may increase.


New Veterinary Officer

The Ministry of Agriculture has a new Veterinary Officer.
Mr. Clifford Daniels, a Guyanese national, took up duties on Tuesday this week.

He is a graduate of the Guyana School of Agriculture with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and a Masters degree in preventative veterinary medicine, which he obtained in 1996.

Mr. Daniels says he is looking forward to the challenge of working in Montserrat during the rebuilding process.
He says he is willing to work with farmers to help tackle the loose livestock problem and get the stray dog situation under control.


Support Services Unit For Schools

The Ministry of Education is making plans to introduce the Support Services Unit in the island’s schools.

The Unit was introduced several years ago to assist students were academically challenged.

The programme, which also offered psychological and other services, has been disrupted by the volcanic crisis.

Honourable Minister of Education Adelina Tuitt says her Ministry has been experiencing a little difficulty restarting the programme.


SPORTS

Round Robin Cricket To Begin October 3rd

The Montserrat Cricket Association has announced a One-Day Cricket League commencing on Sunday, 3rd October. The league will be played on a round-robin basis, with the top two teams qualifying for the final on Sunday, 28th November. Most matches will be played on Sundays, but there will be some Saturday games, depending upon the number of entries. Matches will be of 30 overs per side commencing at 12.45 p.m. It is expected that there will be teams representing the following:

Montserrat Youth Team; Sports Department Invitational XI; Civil Service; Police, and Salem.

Interested players wishing to join one of the above teams or form their own team are asked to contact Mr. Harford Bramble at the Customs Department, Government Headquarters, Brades, on or before Monday, 27th September.

The cricket association is in discussions with a local business which has expressed an interest in sponsoring the tournament and a further announcement will follow.


A TOUCH OF COLOUR
By Peter Adrien

Author and sport Commentator

Serena is a gifted black youth! And she is confident and self-assertive, attributes some of her envious critics prefer to describe as arrogance.
Well, in a stunning, eye-popping display of teenage power, Serena Williams overcame her nerves and a gallant effort by No. 1 Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6 (4) to win the U.S. Open on Saturday, September 11, 1999.
Putting on a lethal serving display the likes of which has not been seen in women's tennis since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 (she served 62 aces in that event), Williams out-punched the wily Swiss, who never regained the speed and spunk that she displayed in defeating Serena's sister, Venus, the day before.
Dead-legged, rubber-armed and confounded as to how she could work her way into the match, Hingis only managed to challenge Williams when the Compton-born all-court wonder tightened up late in the second set. But, like she has in all tournaments, Serena dug down deep on key points, either blasting outright service winners or working herself into rallies, where her Gail Devers-esque sprinter's speed pulled her through.

As she had the entire tournament, Williams served the lights out, pounding 114-mph aces down the tee, slicing winners to the deuce court and launching missiles into the ad court corner. The muscular Williams cracked 36 winners to only seven from Hingis, who was unable to unearth her normally brilliant counter-punching.
After falling behind 3-5 in the second set, Hingis appeared flat on her back in Flushing Meadows, but Williams began to shake. With Hingis serving at 3-5, Williams held two match points, but committed two unforced errors and lost the game when she shanked a forehand. Bewildered, Williams was then broken at love with four unforced errors to 5-5. Hingis held easily to 6-5, but in the next game, Williams shook her beads and out-clawed, out-foxed and out-played her worthy opponent.
In the match's most thrilling game, Williams fell behind 0-30, but was fortunate to pocket a winner off a miss-hit backhand, then leapt to snare a high passing shot that she punched away with a one-handed backhand volley.

Hingis managed to get a set point but dumped a backhand into the net. It would take Williams five game points to get into the breaker, but on the final point, a Hingis forehand clipped the top of the net and Williams buried a backhand down-the-line winner.
At 4-4 in the tiebreaker, Williams seized control, blasting a forehand return of serve winner down the line, charging the net and forcing Hingis into a topspin lob error and then watching Hingis misfire on a backhand.
In an unexpected turn of events, the younger Serena became the first Williams sister to win a Grand Slam singles title. And she wasn't satisfied with a single victory over the enemy; she brought her big sister along, and grabbed hold of the doubles also.

Venus shared the glory with Serena on Sunday, as the Williams sisters defeated Chanda Rubin and Sandrine Testud 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 for the women's doubles championship at the Open.
It was not an easy task because the sisters had to play a doubles semifinal after Serena's singles championship on Saturday and then come back Sunday for the final. There was no celebration of the singles title Saturday night. They had to concentrate on keeping fit for the Sunday's contest.

At the start of the doubles final, the sisters dropped the first five games in the first set. It was as if they had never met, never played tennis together, never took over the U.S. Open. And then, quite suddenly, they remembered where they were and who they are. And after that it was just a matter of time.
When they were done, the sisters had won $1.5 million at the Open, $915,000 going to Serena, the remainder to Venus.
By winning the U.S. Open women's singles title, Serena Williams became thefirst black woman to win a Grand Slam tournament championship since Althea Gibson won her second United States title in 1958. Gibson, who broke the colour barrier in tennis in the early 1950s, won five Grand Slam tournament titles: the French in 1956 and Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in both 1957 and 1958. She also captured six doubles titles, including the mixed in 1957 at the U.S. Open.
Arthur Ashe became the first black to win a men's singles title when he took the first U.S. Open in 1968. He later added the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975. In 1983, Frenchman Yannick Noah won the French Open.

Besides the French Open women's doubles, Venus Williams also won the mixed doubles with Justin Gimelstob last year at both the Australian and French Opens.
Chanda Rubin was half of the winning women's doubles team at the Australian Open in 1996, Lori McNeil won the French Open mixed doubles in 1988, and Zina Garrison was part of the winning mixed doubles team at the Australian Open in 1987 and at Wimbledon in both 1988 and 1990.

Garrison reached the Wimbledon singles final in 1990, losing to Martina Navratilova, while MaliVai Washington lost the Wimbledon men's title in 1996 to Richard Krajicek. Fittingly, Serena Williams won her U.S. Open crown in the stadium named for Ashe.
What refreshing news! What exciting news for black people, for black athletes, and particularly for black female athletes, following the trauma of the last few weeks. If the enemy's intention was to destroy our black sports queen (Merlene Ottey), little did he know that another one was in waiting.
What a touch of colour! Serena is class!

Webmasters Note: Williams' fans can check out 'The Beaded Wonders' at: http://www.williamssisters.com/ (unofficial)


FEATURES

Will Doctors Soon Make Satellite Calls?

Montserrat and the rest of the Caribbean could in the future benefit from low-cost medical treatment via satellite and audio-video technology, according to Dr. Lowell Lewis.
"The message for us here in the Caribbean is that we are separated by water but there is no reason why we can't provide every person in the Caribbean with high-quality care by using modern technology," he told the Montserrat Reporter.

Should that type of medical communication technology be applied in the region, Dr. Lewis said, it would be "very easy" for medical colleagues to communicate across the islands.

He cited areas of Guyana, where small communities are scattered over wide expanses of land, that should not be excluded from having advice and counsel of an expert at a low cost.

Dr. Lewis, a well-known Montserratian surgeon and Lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), said the introduction of "Tele-Health" to medical and telecommunications personnel was done at a recently held Tele-Health Multi-Media Congress in Alberta, Canada, which Dr. Lewis attended.
The idea of Tele-Health has been developed to cater for communities scattered thousands of miles away from health centres in parts of Canada and Europe.

"It is a question of looking at the approach and adopting it to our needs," Dr. Lewis explained. "Tele-Health will have to be developed with care because we can very easily see it making other people unemployed (and) it could interfere with the economics of health care in the region, and we don't want it to do that."

Gradually developed ways of providing diagnostic and treatment services, using teleconferencing facilities.

"The patient comes into the centre, talks by the video-telephone, shares their problem with the nurse and the specialist in the city centre or health centre who are thousands of miles away, discusses the case and helps them to treat the patient," Dr. Lewis said.

The British-trained surgeon, with over 30-years experience in the medical field, is interested in using the Tele-Health methodology for teaching medicine, and was instrumental in drafting the Alberta Declaration on Tele-Health.

During the Congress, Dr. Lewis presented three papers on Public Health Education through a Multi-Media Package based on his experience on Montserrat, Use of Video-Technology in the Teaching of Medical Students Using a Low-Cost Approach, and the Management of Pre-Examination Stress by a Remote Method.

In their Declaration, Congress delegates called on governments, developers, providers, users of health service technologies and citizens around the world to ensure that Tele-Health is an integral part of health care services.

Other aspects of the Declaration include ensuring that Tele-Health applications are determined on the basis of health needs based on local circumstances, respect community and individual values in a culturally sensitive manner, and that funding and other forms of support are provided for Tele-Health research, development and evaluation.

Dr. Lewis said that the next Congress, expected to be held in another two years, possibly in the Caribbean, should be used as a target date to produce material as models.

The TeleHealth Technology Research Institute (TTRI) of the University of Alberta is spearheading the new technological approach to health care.


FARMERS CORNER

By Justin Cassell, A.D.O

EAT from the LAND not from the CAN

Road Damage Addressed

Severe erosion of the lower section of Upper Blakes Road due to heavy rains last weekend has necessitated urgent repairs. Repair work involves an extension of the concrete road surface by another 55 feet and the installation of a cemented drain to divert runoff water from doing further damage to the existing road. Construction is due to commence on Monday September 20, 1999.

Exhibition Committee in Place

The Agricultural Fair and Exhibition committee held its first meeting on Wednesday September 15, 1999. The committee members consist of Mr. Claude Browne, Director of MCC; Mrs. Camilla Watts, Director of the Montserrat Red Cross; Mr. Anthony Maloney, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture; Miss Ernestine Cassell, Director of Tourism; Miss Rose Willock, Manager, Radio Montserrat; Mr Claude Gerald, Director of Agriculture; Mr. Justin Cassell, Agricultural Development Officer; Mr. Anthony Breedy, Agricultural Officer; Mr. Easton Farrell, Chief Extension Officer; Miss Odelle Lewis, Mr. John Keller and Mrs. Daphne Cassell.

Items on the Agenda for that meeting included date of the Fair/Exhibition, venue, categories and fund-raising.

From the Farms

Several farmers are currently harvesting crops. These include: Melon, Tomato, Squash, Okra, Corn and Pumpkin.

Import Substitution Program Stepped Up

Three new farmers have been allocated plots at Duck Pond to grow Bananas, Dasheen and Plantains, among other crops. Several pounds of these crops are imported weekly. It is hoped that sufficient quantities of these crops will be produced to satisfy the local demand.

Land Preparation Nearing Completion

Agricultural Extension Officer Anthony Breedy has reported that most of the farm plots extending from Fogarthy to Salem have been prepared. Farmers are advised to stagger their planting to avoid creating a glut on the market.


NURSES THIS WEEK

Antenatal Care of the Pregnant Woman

Antenatal care means care that is given to a pregnant woman before birth of the baby.

Pregnancy is not an illness or a disease; rather it should be regarded as a special event in the lives of the parents-to-be, as well as other family members.

It is important that as soon as a woman misses her menstrual period she sees her District Nurse or private Doctor. The earlier she sees the Doctor or Nurse will prove beneficial to both her health and that of the unborn baby.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE CLINIC OR DOCTOR’S OFFICE.

The first antenatal visit may take up to half an hour or more, since it is at this time that basic information regarding personal and family medical history will be taken.

The Nurse or Doctor will take other pertinent information -- e.g personal history –- such as the date of last menstrual period, previous pregnancy (s) and complications, if there were any. Also, medical and surgical conditions and nutritional history, what the client is eating and what foods she is able to tolerate.

The physical, emotional and general well-being of the client will also be assessed, that is, how the client feels and how she is coping with the pregnancy.

A social history will be taken to indicate the occupation, educational level and home condition of the client.

A head-to-toe physical examination will be done. This will assist the Nurse in making certain diagnosis and to refer the client for treatment or to treat if necessary. The blood pressure, weight and urine test will be done at each visit. The abdomen will be measured and the uterus palpated to assess the progress of the pregnancy.

Tests done at this time will include:-

Haemoglobin – to test the iron level in the blood

Blood group

Sickle cell testing

Blood sugar levels

VDRL- to check for syphyllis . This can be cured if treated early.

It is important to note that if the mother is infected and not treated early, the child can have birth defects such as deafness, impaired vision and sores around the mouth. The child may even be born with the infection.

Urine testing will also be done to detect protein and sugar and any urinary tract infection.

Other tests to be done include an Ultra Sound when possible.

If the client presents high-risk conditions – e.g twin pregnancy, diabetes or hypertension -- she will be assessed and managed by a Doctor.

HEALTH EDUCATION

This is done at each visit and is essential in providing anticipatory guidance to the mother-to-be and her family about care for herself and baby..

Education focuses on:

How to cope with minor disorders e.g nausea and vomiting; Personal hygiene; Exercise and rest; Physiological changes in the body; Layette preparation; Labour and delivery;

Breastfeeding, and Care of the newborn

The mother will visit the health centre on a monthly basis up to the fifth month of pregnancy, then every two weeks up to the seventh month, and weekly thereafter.

If a woman is pregnant or plans to become pregnant she should avoid alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and other drugs. She should take folic acid up to the first 12-14 weeks of pregnancy to prevent abnormalities during the development of the unborn baby.

From the 14th week of pregnancy she should be taking iron and folic acid to prevent anaemia

NB. It is best to take iron tablets with a fruit juice or after a heavy meal to prevent upset stomach and constipation.


PROFILE

Mrs. Joan Roberts Moinnodeen - RN, RM

District Nurse Mrs. Moinnodeen started her nursing career in 1989 at the Glendon School of Nursing.

A few months later Hurricane Hugo devastated the island and training was temporarily suspended. However, in spite of the many adjustments that had to be made and the challenges of the training programme, she successfully completed the course and graduated in 1992 as a Registered Nurse. She was awarded second prize for academic performance and first prize for Surgical Nursing.

Following her appointment as Registered Nurse, Mrs. Moinnodeen worked in Hospital mainly on the Paediatric, Medical and Surgical wards ,which she greatly enjoyed.

Recognizing her personal responsibility towards her own professional advancement, she took the initiative and applied to the School of Nursing in Dominica to pursue Midwifery training in 1997. Upon acceptance she funded her own training. She successfully completed the course in 1998 and was awarded a special prize for "steady application of theory to practice and perseverance."

Upon returning to Montserrat , Mrs. Moinnodeen was appointed to the position of Staff Nurse. She was later transferred to Community Nursing and currently serves as District Nurse/ Midwife for the Salem area.

In addition to the above training, Mrs. Moinnodeen has been exposed to local and regional training and holds certificates in:

-Management of chronic diseases (UWIDEC)

-Peer group counselling

-Youth work

-Computer and typing skills and

-Small business management.

Nurse Moinnodeen is also an active member of the Salem Community group.


VOLCANO LIMERICKS

Look, It’s A Tailspin

Antigua-based LIAT’s prostrate.

Now the region must ponder its fate.

We have that island’s word

That Prime Minister Byrd

‘Never, ever’ exerted his weight.

Guided Tour

The Baroness Scotland toured here,

The Governor’s voice in her ear.

She saw every sight

That H.E. deemed right;

Let’s hope C.M. Brandt made things clear.


JUS WONDERIN

Jus wonderin whose that guy is that ask back for the Watch and CD's just because the poor girl wanted out of the relationship.

Jus wonderin who the lucky lady that relocate and got the $10,000.00 package and come back and was most fortunate to get a 3-bedroom house at Look Out while others just sit and wait.

Jus wonderin if the meaning of Lookout can turn out to be a warning to look out for disaster.

Jus wonderin if a DJ is not afraid to have the cemetery near to his house anymore.

Jus wonderin if it’s the same DJ that gave a good piece of advice the other morning about violence.

Jus wonderin if the Customs Officer would be more polite after that minor brain damage.

Jus wonderin what happens when you mix politics and Christianity.

Jus wonderin why some people sitting on the van enjoy watching the garbage to blow away.

Jus wonderin' if Agriculture knows that memory's good and people know the pledged limit to sand mining at Isles Bay Beach runs out on 30 SeptemberJus wonderin if and how the garbage collection is being dealt with at the new Lookout housing development.

Jus wonderin if the goats are making use of the new finance benefits at their new night quarters on the BOML verandah.

Jus wonderin why the price control people don't publish items that are under direct price control.

Jus wonderin why they don't give that tiny 'green' associated girl a break.

Jus wonderin when PWD who drive over that dangerous entry to the Salem Junior Secondary School compound, will ever cover that culvert.

Jus wonderin how and who ever accounts for aid that comes to Montserrat during the crisis.

Jus wonderin if SOB members are any closer to returning to live in their own homes after this week's sad stories, excuses and delays.

Jus wonderin who is Montserrat's new Tiger Woods.

Jus wonderin if it is true that the ferry schedule will be reduced drastically and the helicopter fares become unmanageable.


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