Speaking to the Long Look community at The Stickett last night, Dr Pickering questioned what is being done to ensure children have the tools and resources to make their future better and ultimately take care of the territory in the long run.
He said it concerned him because, during the lockdowns when school was online, he observed young people, especially males, walking around the community or riding bicycles when online class was in session.
“Do you understand that if our children are not getting the education and the care they need they are likely to choose the path we don’t want them to choose? Do we understand the social consequences? We are coming out of the pandemic but we have already fallen behind. Now don’t get me wrong, that is not a government issue. That is our issue,” Dr Pickering said.
“If my children go wrong and our children go wrong, then all of us are in trouble. We have got to redouble our efforts to ensure that we take care of our children. Whatever is necessary. Work in conjunction with the government of the day to ensure that our children have the tools for survival when they grow up. Otherwise, we are in trouble,” he added.
The former Seventh District Representative said he has attended several funerals for young men in the territory and it concerns him about the frequency at which they are dying.
“When you extend that to the number of males who are dying from violence, motorcycle accidents, who have ended up in prison, who has ended up on the sea lost and not coming back; each one of those persons is leaving children behind who are fatherless. Each one is leaving children that someone else must rear or probably a mother who must work two jobs to ensure that those children get help,” Dr Pickering said.
He noted this is a problem the community must face together and find solutions for. He highlighted that it is a social issue and not necessarily a government issue.
“All of us, churches and community organisations, all of us have got to work. It is not just getting up every time and holding a vigil. It is about doing our duty to ensure that we protect those children. If our children do bad, all of us in trouble,” Dr Pickering reiterated.
Dr Pickering also highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on people in the territory, especially parents. He noted that during the lockdown, there were several people in the country who went without any paycheque for nearly 12 months, and this impacted them.
“A lot of people went without a paycheque for a year because a majority of people work in the tourism industry. The tourism industry was locked down and they did not have a job, they could not pay their rent. They could not take care of their children,” he said.
“Those children are suffering because they have fallen behind and I want to propose to this community that we must start a feeding programme in our schools. Don’t wait for the government to do it. We must do it because there are children in this community and beyond in the wider BVI who are going to school hungry. There are children in the school who if the teachers don’t go out of their way to help them eat, they go hungry. A hungry child can’t learn nothing in school,” the former Seventh District Representative said.
He challenged the people in the community to start a school feeding programme that would at least give every child in school breakfast to help ease the burden on some parents. He said this would ensure that when children go to school, they would not be hungry.