Thank You Message from Gems CEO, Wilson Jn Baptiste
Thank you..from my heart and soul.
I would like to thank you all for taking time from your busy schedule to congratulate, support and express words of kindness to me on taking up my new position as Adjunct Professor at New York University. (Previous article can be found here.)
I was indeed overwhelmed. However, due to the different perspectives from which your greetings came from, it made it difficult for me to curate a response that would fit all. That is still impossible to do at this time. But I must say thank you.
I am writing this note today, on a day which is special to me because it brings with it both sadness and joy. I am saddened because this is the anniversary, September 16, of the passing on my mother, Ma Mc Phail. I am joyful because the indelible imprints which she left on my mind have and are serving me well. I would not have been able to overcome the many challenges which I have faced if I did not have her teachings to reflect on. Her teachings are even more relevant today than they were yesterday.
The two most transformational and impactful sentences which my mother made to me, while I was a teenager, and which I have relied upon recently were: “Wilson, I am not raising you for Saint Lucia. I am raising you so that where ever you may be you will be able to take care of yourself,” and “Wilson, the children. What will become of the children tomorrow?” And to her I replied: “I will take care of the children. Do not worry.”
These two sentences are critical to me today, because they are poignant. I reflected on the first sentence in 2010, when I finally decided that I should give up on contributing to St. Lucia because governments would not collaborate with me. This was a period when rational, logic and common sense were trumped by personality definitions and ego. I could not win even in the presence of high un-employment and a failing economy. I had to reflect on my mother’s statement that she was preparing me for the world and not St. Lucia. I changed the prism through which I wanted to view myself in a global context and returned to New York University in 2011 to freshen my knowledge, build new relationships and rekindle old relationships. As a result, I saw a whole new world in front of me with many opportunities and possibilities which came with immense responsibilities. However, I will always remain loyal to St. Lucia, to love this amazing island and its people with a deep passion and hopefully look to the day when my dreams and aspirations are in sync with its development. If this day never happens, I will sleep peacefully at nights knowing that I gave my very best to the land of my birth and with the confidence that one day St. Lucia will take its rightful place among the best.
The second sentence which addresses the children is even more profound. Why? I held onto the belief that maybe my mother was speaking of the children of Vieux Fort. I was intensely focused on assisting these children in the areas of sports and also through job creation, some of which never materialized. Why were the children of Vieux Fort deprived of opportunities to the value of EC$300,000,000 in investments in a hotel and a solar desalination plant? However, as I started in my new role as an Adjunct Professor at New York University, on September 3, 2015, it dawned on me that these were the children which my mother may have been referring to. These are the children I told her that I would take care of. This class of 22 children from diverse backgrounds, culture and experiences are now the ones that I am imparting my knowledge to in the US. This is being done at a time when there is 50% youth un-employment on St. Lucia. However, I am obedient to the vision of my mother and will take care of the children which she has placed at my disposal. She prepared me to take care of this world’s children.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the town of Vieux Fort for the support and nurturing which it gave to me during my upbringing. I would also like to thank some people individually who contributed to my journey because without them the challenges would have been burdensome. Finally, I would like to thank my mother for also instilling in me faith in God, which has been the bedrock on which I stand.
Until then my friends, things are going on well and I am determined to give my very best to the children every single day.
Thank you so much for your warm encouragement and may I wish you all success in all your endeavors.
Wilson Jn Baptiste
Ma McPhail and her child Tony John
Gems Soccer Clinic in Vieux-Fort, 2012. An initiative from Gems of Saint Lucia to contribute towards the development of the children in Vieux-Fort.