The Problem We Face as Montserratians is Deeper Than We Think


Ke-Shawn Thornhill

Release Date

Friday, May 24, 2019


I had a chance to reflect on how we found it so easy, as the younger generation, to sit down and put together plans for the future and grown men and women yet find it so hard to do.

While doing my daily chores it dawned on me that the problem can’t be plain old “bad-mind”, it has to be something much deeper. Then it clicked!

We the youngsters haven’t experienced what the previous generation has. It might sound obvious but really think about it. We haven’t experienced everything we worked hard for and held dear to our hearts vanish in a matter of hours. It happened before in 1989, and the previous generation rebuilt. It then came again in 1995, way more dangerous and hostile. Lava and ash burnt and covered everything they loved. The psychological effect of this must be detrimental to any person’s mental state. Running away from all you’ve built because of that one disaster, after having braved the one before; dreams and hopes crushed within the blink of an eye; having to grab and hold on to what can fit in your hands or your car. This could not have been easy.

So there they are on the other side, all hopes and dreams crushed, everything they’ve built gone. What are they to do? How do they start all over once again? Some took what some would say is the easy way out and left completely, and others decided to stay and bare the after effects.

I might be scrutinized for saying those who left took the easy way out but I’m sure the change of scenery has done more good for your mental health than those who remained. Yes, you too may be scarred, but a new environment far away from home might just be what you needed to regain some mental strength to push on.

For those who stayed here they had to adjust. Adjust to people they weren’t accustomed to seeing; places they would have never gone to with emotions they were unequipped to handle.

So 24 years on why haven’t they rebuilt what they loved and held so dear?

I think it is because they are living in fear. Fear of it being swept from right under them once again. Fear that the third time might be the charm. So they cling and grab to everything they can because the last two times tested the survival of man. Now on their own two feet, it’s every man for themselves before another disaster hits. So they hold back who is to excel, they stop what is to be done and they bad mouth everyone trying to be the most stable out of the lot, not recognizing they are killing themselves.

Crabs in a barrel pulling down one another right next to the seashore. Our surrounding brothers never had to go through the trials they did so we can’t compare, but our brothers seem more together than we are.

Scattered far and wide you think a devastating time would have brought us all together. You know like when a family member dies, you have cousins and aunts willing to help that you didn’t know were even alive? This is not the case. They are divided not by villages or the features of our face but by the mental issue that we face.

How do we come together? How do we rebuild this place?

Now here comes a generation equipped and advanced, and most importantly, without the mental scars of extreme disasters. So vibrant! So eager to return Montserrat to the booming, thriving island it once was. However, it has been more of a power struggle with yesterday’s generation, feeling they are becoming redundant and outnumbered. So when opposed they retaliate by stomping growth and success of the modern day cohorts. This then creates a hostile environment which causes another segregation.

Traditional methods are now challenged with more practical modern day solutions but in that same breath aren’t embraced because of the trauma inflicted by mother nature.

It needs to be said there is a mental problem that needs to be addressed with our country.

We cannot continue to suffer in silence. We are so mentally distressed, we question simple things we do. For instance, Montserrat’s development isn’t because of lack of aid as commonly perceived, but rather that of the incapability to spend government funds and adequately account for it.

We rather have massa’s consultants who don’t have the best interest of the people at heart but rather that of the Queen, come and tell us what to do and how to do it because of the fear that we have been doing things wrong all this time which is why we have been devastated not once but twice. We say we are resilient, we bounced back from a volcano and a major hurricane, Montserratians are the perfect example of survivors.

But have we really bounced back?

Twenty-four years onward, and we can’t have basic development? No stable electricity, little to no capital projects and the never ending power struggle between two generations. It’s been two and a half decades and you would think a small island like this with such a close-knit society would be able to come together and get the affairs of the country on the right path once again.

However, the generation change is coming and it is coming fast. This generational change will be adopted by will or by force; very much in the same way that everything in life eventually evolves, and we have no choice but to adjust to it.

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