NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Bahamas Government saluted hundreds of COVID-19 workers from the private and public sectors throughout The Bahamas for “extraordinary” service at an Appreciation and Awards Ceremony, Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at Baha Mar Convention Center.
The National Independence Committee spearheaded the two-and-a-half-hour event, one of the final official 49th Independence activities, broadcast live on ZNS television. Soloist Merica Walker wooed the audience with “How Can I Say Thanks” and the Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band performed a musical selection.
A moment of silence was observed for heroes who died in the pandemic.
The categories of honorees included: non-profit organizations, churches, social welfare, grocery stores, hotels, communications and media houses, local government, law enforcement, pharmacies, senior citizens care, education, health and wellness. The honorees were presented with special awards and certificates. The theme for the ceremony was “49-Proud To Be Bahamian”.
Among the participants: the Hon. Wayne Munroe, Minister of National Security; Her Excellency Ambassador Leslia Miller-Brice, Bahamas High Commissioner to CARICOM and National Independence Committee Chairman; Jack Thompson, Permanent Secretary; Roselyn Horton, Acting Permanent Secretary; and Aubynette Rolle, Managing Director, Public Hospitals Authority. Dr. Cherita Moxey gave remarks in the absence of the Hon. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness.
On behalf of the Independence Committee, Ambassador Brice thanked the heroes for their contributions and service.
She said, “Your contributions and service during the worst of the pandemic make all of us so very proud to be Bahamian.”
Dr. Moxey remarked, “To the outstanding workers and leaders that are being honoured today, thank you for being the safeguard, the first lines of defense and for giving a ‘now’ answer to the call. The commitment of your time and talents saved lives. It is also because of your commitment that we see our country recovering, rebounding and readjusting against the challenges. Nationally, we are at this juncture because of you.”
She noted two lessons learned from COVID-19 since the first reported case in 2020:
No matter which borders oceans, time zones separate us globally, our inter-connectedness is undeniable;
Do it now! Tomorrow waits for no man. So, show love, kindness and compassion now. Give respect now. Render help now. Spread hope and encouragement now.
The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical & Vocational Training, who presented the keynote address on behalf of the Hon. Philip Edward Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, expressed her pride and gratefulness for the workers. She said they exemplify the “best” of the nation and emerged in an “uncommon” time in “unchartered” waters.
“You have made a nation proud. You have crystallized our ethos as a Bahamian people. This was a test, and for your excellence during this test we thank you with all of our heart.”
Minister Hanna-Martin said it is “appropriate” and “most fitting” that the event was a part of the 49th Independence celebrations.
“Forty nine years later despite the challenges the nation has emerged as a “strong” and “excellent” people.
“We pledged to excel in love and unity. You helped to make rational the helter-skelter of this pandemic. It is because of your ingenuity, your sage intelligence, your creativity, your stalwart sacrifices, timeless courage and love in abundance that we have been able to navigate our nation through the turbulent waters and avoid the treacherous shores.”
Moreover, she said, “You are here today because you have touched our nation -- all of us collectively. We are here today to celebrate and give thanks to you, who, when our nation was in a state of uncertainty and when our people were anxious and fearful, and when we faced a crisis that was not fully understood in the beginning and still not fully understood, and which turned many of our lives upside down. It was you through your love and sacrifice that helped to stabilize the lives of our nation and keep the ship-of-state steady.
“As we celebrate this last official event on our 49th year of Independence because of you I am proud to be Bahamian.
“It was your actions, your clear and decisive proactivity which coalesced the hope of our people in our collective faith.
“It was you who are here today in your unique spaces who stood in the gap for the Bahamian people.”
Furthermore, she said, “Because of our courageous and incredibly committed health care workers who in some instances literally risked their lives and some of whom lost their lives, it is because of you that I am proud to be Bahamian.
“Because of our caring and ingenious educators who resolved when the schools shut down that our nation’s children would continue to have access to education, and learning and continuous education stimulus, because of you I am proud to be Bahamian.
“Because of our uniformed branches who had the difficult task of enforcement of the protocols and who remained on the frontline 24 hours per day, because of you I am proud to be Bahamian.
“Because of our church leaders who encouraged us to keep the faith in the darkest night;
“Because of the public servants charged with protecting the social welfare of our people in the lowest point of our history;
“Because of our hotel workers; our food store workers and the cashiers, the media, the NPOs, because of your extraordinary sacrifice and commitment to be Bahamian.
“I am especially proud of those who stepped up in our Family Island communities to bridge the voids despite the limited resources to ensure that your respective communities were held together, because of all of you I am proud to be Bahamian.
“It was you who stood on the front lines, it was you who took the risk, it was you who put in the extraordinary hours and moved beyond your own exhaustion. It was you who taught this nation that in our midst are amazing heroes and heroines imbued with incredible courage and draped in selflessness, immersed in an enduring love for your fellow man and woman. It is because of you that I am proud to be Bahamian.
“You come from all walks of life and varying circumstances, but you all share in common the admirable and must appreciated qualities that have allowed our nation and our people to weather the difficult days,” said Minister Hanna-Martin. (BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)