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BARBUDA HOMECOMING: CREATIVE SPACE #6 OF 2018
Thursday 31st May 2018

By Joanne C. Hillhouse

Few things have been as heartbreaking as Barbuda this past year. Heartbreak born of nature’s fury by way of September 6, 2017’s hurricane Irma which decimated the island, as well as the politically-driven fissure in the sisterhood shared between Antigua and Barbuda. At a time that should be focused on rebuilding, the official and casual conversation has had the quality of a throwback throwdown old school village fight – we’ve all witnessed at least one of these growing up and entertaining though they might have been to the onlooker, to what end in terms of uplift. And so when I caught wind of something that seemed like positive news vis-à-vis Barbuda, collective action geared toward uplift, I decided it was a good fit for the culture part of this CREATIVE SPACE series because what is culture if not who we are and how we live and relate to each other.

The activity I write of in this installment, therefore, is the Barbuda Rising Homecoming. It comes at a time when the 1800 more or less people of the 62 square mile island are still not home – though the islands other famous citizens, the frigates, have been returning to their nesting ground.

Man, bird, tout monde were evacuated or self-evacuated from the land in which they traditionally collectively enjoyed ownership and the security that comes with that.

I was fortunate to catch up with one of the organizers of the Homecoming, New York based lawyer and daughter of the Antigua-Barbuda soil, Beverly George. One of the most important things she said, something that’s lost in all the politicking and word dropping is just how traumatized the people of Barbuda are; a mix of  #Barbudastrong and #humanlyvulnerable (hashtags mine).

“Residents of Barbuda have recently survived a very traumatic, life altering series of events, and they still thrive,” she said via our e-correspondence. “This speaks to their tremendous strength, resilience and resolve.  Many are still experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder…  We ask our Antiguan brothers and sisters to be sensitive to these issues, and to continue to be supportive of our brothers and sisters.”

The Homecoming, she explained, is a coming together of the will of the some 30,000 Barbudans in the diaspora – across the United States of America, Canada, the UK, likely other places, and, of course, Antigua and Barbuda.

“The idea of the Barbuda Rising Homecoming was first conceived after the hosting of the first Envisioning Barbuda for 2030 & Beyond workshop on Saturday November 25, 2017,” George said. “The intensive day long workshop brought together Barbudans from across the USA of various age groups, political persuasions, professional backgrounds and interests to begin the process of creating a shared vision of preferred futures for Barbuda by 2030 and the potential role of the Diaspora in helping to shape the desired future.”

“Towards the end of the day,” George said of that coming together, “the participants felt a deep sense of pride to see how Barbudans were working together and were willing to play an active role with the government and people at home in the rebuilding and development of Barbuda.  They also expressed their desire to see the process duplicated in Barbuda.”

That is the essence of the homecoming. A small group visited the island in December 2017 and, as noted in the programme, the full reunion is planned for this summer.

“The homecoming is aimed to RECONNECT Barbudans with their homeland and heritage; help our brothers and sisters REBUILD Barbuda with vision, purpose and fortitude and RESTORE hope, dignity and identity,” George said.

She is asking for not just more help to move the work of rebuilding Barbuda – the process of which has been slow, to say the very least – forward, but also “more brotherly/sisterly love and support”.

Homecoming activities are noted on the flyer, starting with a Unity Cleanup, led by Sgt. Michael “Big Mike” Harris (US Marine) and Sgt Sean Charles (US Army/Barbudan), and including a thanksgiving service and reception at which they have to have quintessential Barbuda cuisine, a history/heritage day to include a Barbuda Then exhibit and documentary, and a family tree activity (“many Antiguans will be surprised to find out that they have relatives in Barbuda”), a health and wellness fair, a beach day and bonfire night, a sports day and HOPE Rising concert, and more. To keep up with the activities via social media, type #RebuildBarbuda (hashtag theirs).

The Creative Space series appears on journalist and author Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Jhohadli blog, syndicated here and in other spaces. It is an opportunity for companies located or operating in Antigua and Barbuda to BOOST your BRAND while boosting local Art and Culture. Contact Jhohadli/Joanne C. Hillhouse if you wish to sponsor a future post. All Rights Reserved.


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