By Keith Asante
Dr. Dario Item, ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the Kingdom of Spain, is spearheading a series of efforts to raise donations to help frontliners and schools in the country.
Challenging times brought by COVID-19 exemplifies that not all heroes wear capes. Together with the European Caucus, Dr. Item has joined forces to help health-care workers in Antigua and Barbuda.
Holding the position of Ambassador has made him view the world from a different perspective. He is tasked with the honor to represent his beloved country to the leaders of Spain, Monaco, and Liechtenstein. He ensures that the foreign policies of Antigua and Barbuda are well-explained and that its relations with these countries are well fostered.
Road to economic recovery
It is no secret that Antigua and Barbuda relies heavily on tourism as its main income-generating industry. Unfortunately, this industry is one of the most severely hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been the mission of the Government and its representatives to give this sector a boost. To do this, key service providers must be empowered to work better amid the pandemic. The administration has increased its efforts to bolster the capability of basic services.
However, many crucial sectors including healthcare, tourism and education, still need help in coping and recovering from all the effects brought by COVID-19. Through a comprehensive catch-up plan headed by the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, key leaders are positive about the gradual recovery of tourism.
Efforts to reboot the economy
Dr. Dario Item does not let the span of this journey be a hindrance in initiating efforts. Together with the pool of European-based Antigua and Barbuda diplomats, Dr. Item and his team have been spreading the advocacy for the recovery of the Caribbean country. The advocacy is based on its national policy to bolster basic services mounting to a reboot of its tourism industry.
Dr. Item was elated to see that their relations with European countries have been very productive. His colleague, Karen-Mae Hill, the High Commissioner in London, rightfully describes their consortium as a “Caucus”.
This group had managed to distribute hygiene and health kits to the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre. In one of the ongoing efforts that the team is doing.
Miss Hill said this beautifully, “The Caucus was formed in May 2020 to explore ways the diplomats in Europe can leverage their collective positions and networks to support the priorities of the Government to boost investment and trade, support the work of Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority in promoting the destination across Europe and contribute to the social fabric of Antigua and Barbuda.”
The donations gathered by the group included a laptop for the Infection Control Nurses, database inputs as well as antibacterial soaps, multivitamin syrups including vitamin C, hand sanitizers, deodorants, and energy bars. These items were packaged into 500 sets to cover every nurse, doctor, and other frontliners who served at the hospital.
To better support the local industries, the donations were also sourced from local suppliers. This not only aids the healthcare sectors, but also other local businesses. The Antigua Distillery Ltd. And Frank B. Armstrong Distributors worked with the group to deliver these goods. It was envisioned that this would boost the local industry in its own little way.
There was a formal hand over of the items. The simple event was graced by E.P. Chet Greene, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who turned the items over to the medical staff. He appreciates that Dr. Item and other diplomats will not stop their support for the frontline workers of Antigua and Barbuda.
In his message, he said, “Our country is going through a tough time, I don’t think there is anyone alive that has seen a tougher time like this, so it tells me that this is truly a historic moment”. He added, “It behooves us to adopt the adage ‘in this together’ as we work our way out of this dreadful, fearful situation”.
During the Q&A, the issue of borders reopening was tackled. Greene emphasized the need for everyone, nationals, and residents, to continue to exercise a high level of vigilance, calm, patience, respect, and understanding as the nation grapples with the menace of COVID-19.
Jacqueline Jno Baptiste, the Director of Nursing for MSJMC, accepted the items on behalf of the Ministry of health. She emphasized the commitment and dedication of the staff as they work round the clock in keeping the nation healthy. She acknowledged that the donation is indeed welcomed and needed.
Before the event came to a close, the UK High Commissioner was able to acknowledge the Caucus’ partners. She mentioned the Halo Foundation for the Needy to support the Sunshine Home for Girls, the Ex-Servicemen’s Association, the St. Vincent de Paul, and the Grace Programme under the “You Can Help Initiative”.
These are just a couple of ongoing initiatives that we will see from H.E Dr. Dario Item and his team. At a time when the number of people who need help grows, it’s good to note that so are the number of people who are willing to step up. To learn more on how you can take part in the ongoing relief operations, you may check out the Embassy’s website at: www.embassy.ag
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