Keynote Address by Dr. the Honorable Timothy S. Harris – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis at Hearts and Hands for Nevis Luncheon in New York on January 17, 2016

Premier of Nevis, Honorable Vance Amory
President of Hearts and Hands
Special Honorees, invitees, all
I must thank the Hearts and Hands for Nevis organization for the invitation extended to me to be here and to play a part in this auspicious event. Today we come together as proud citizens to celebrate the superlative accomplishments of our own people.
Today we acknowledge and thank the Hearts and Hands for Nevis for bringing us together to pay tribute to our sons and daughters and to gain inspiration from their magnificent work.
The Hearts & Hands for Nevis is a not for profit organization that has been actively promoting strong ties among Nevisians at home and abroad for over seventeen years.
The visionaries of this renowned organization have meticulously woven a web of alliances among their Kittitian, Nevisian and regional neighbors, thereby cementing the familial ties that exist beyond the shores of our homeland. This gathering today is a testimony of the marked success of the Hearts and Hands for Nevis.
This well-established organization has successfully staged numerous events in keeping with their mission: “To influence members to develop their full potential through excellence in personal leadership, relationship development and the creation of wealth through the power of integrity and collective effort.”
As 2016 unfolds, their goals are no less important and the executive and members of the Hearts and Hands for Nevis are committed to “organizing Nevisians and friends of Nevis worldwide into esteemed communities with a view to maintain Nevisian identity and culture.”
This vision allows for a celebration of today’s honorees, namely Dr. Everson Hull, Dr. Violet Jeffers, Sir Hugh Rawlins and Dr. Leslie Wade.  These distinguished honorees are high achievers who are highly respected and successful citizens in every right.
Today, Sunday January 17, 2016 is an opportunity to celebrate them.
From the tireless, energetic spirit of Dr. Violet Jeffers to the awe inspiring work of Dr. Leslie Wade, the financial and economic expertise of Dr. Everson Hull, and the legal acumen of Sir Hugh Rawlins, our nation reels with collective pride at the celebration of four of our sons and daughters.
Dr. Hull graduated from the halls of the Charlestown Secondary School to serve as the Permanent Representative For St. Kitts and Nevis to the OAS; an achievement marked by a myriad successes in private and public enterprise along the way. We move to the beat of his financial and economic expertise; a field he has been committed to all his life. His successes are ours also.
Dr. Leslie Wade’s service to our nation and the world is symbolic.  With the solid foundation built by her parents and grandparents in particular, this bold personality stayed close to the pursuit of her passion to work with the United Nations. Today, she is that link between peace and development serving as Director of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Each of us can learn from this brilliant mind which makes decisions daily in the interest of devising policies that impact the United Nations and the world.
Sir Hugh Rawlins has climbed the heights of legal excellence, paving a legacy deemed attainable by only a few human beings in our lifetime. Today, as a Judge of the ILO International (Appellate) Administrative Tribunal in Switzerland, Sir Hugh continues in his capacity to use the legal foundation he acquired to train young minds and lead countless others to the well of wisdom from which he has so successfully gleaned.
Our recognition of their success does more than laud their accomplishments. It sets a precedent for our nation’s youth at home and abroad to strive toward excellence as they wrestle with career paths of their own. Today’s high achievers are models who are also dedicated to positively impacting the lives of others through excellence and service.  We are mindful of their sacrifices, their contributions and their respective successes and we applaud them. We must not lose sight of the fact that the small size of Nevis did not prevent its sons and daughters from reaching the zenith. The small physical size of the island instead provided fertile soil from which our sons and daughters have risen to provide service to the world.
Speaking of service, this year’s annual luncheon comes at a symbolic time for my administration, on the cusp of realizing the one year anniversary of service to citizens of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis at home and abroad.
Almost a year ago, my government commenced a shift away from the old school of governance that minimized the value of our people and took an approach to leadership that would be people centered. Beyond that, we took an unprecedented decision to honor the work of our people, not based on their political affiliation but rather on their worth and their work in advancing the federation.
And so in keeping with this shift and fresh perspective, accomplished citizens such as Kim Collins and Dr. The Right Honorable Sir Kennedy Alphonse Simmonds have been heralded for their contributions to nation building. We were pleased to finish the task of investiture of Sir Simeon Daniel as a national hero. Equally, my new cabinet paid tribute to the Right Excellent Robert L. Bradshaw as first national hero at his hometown in St. Pauls on September 16 last. Simultaneously, at that event, we paid tribute to all other national heroes.
My government has proposed that the time has come for a National Heroes Park as a home for all those who joined the pantheon of national heroes.  It is in this same vein my government seeks to steer our twin island away from the distasteful political quagmire that only valued those aligned with a particular political party, at the expense of one’s patriotism to our good nation. It is our thrust for honoring the value of all citizens, as opposed to his or her political allegiance, that allows us to be celebrating each other on merit rather than affiliation.
This vision embraces excellence in every aspect of our nation’s development and we stand proudly as an institution of the people sharing in the achievements of some of our very own gems.
It is no irony that this weekend’s 17th anniversary Hearts and Hands for Nevis celebration falls on the 17th day of the first month of a new year. It comes at a time when we celebrate the excellence of a human being whose life changed the world.
Some 87 years ago, on January 15, 1929, one of the world’s most revered civil rights figures was born. His life was cut short at 39 years old but not before achieving the heights of excellence through the advancement of civil rights using non-violent civil disobedience. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Christian principles and undaunted social activism was instrumental in ending the legal segregation of African-Americans in the South.
King’s life personified courage, strong will and commitment. His work resonated throughout America and across the world as he changed the face of civil rights in America forever.
We all have dreams!
Dr. King dreamed for our world a black President. He dreamed we would inherit a world in which black boys and black girls would be deemed valuable and would not be judged by the color of their skin but rather by the content of their character. His dream has borne fruit despite the many setbacks the civil rights movement has endured.
The Hearts and Hands for Nevis places human development in the forefront of its work. It envisages a world in which Nevisians through excellence would actualize. Today those expectations are being realized in the honorees.  Certainly therefore, there is value and virtue in our celebrations today.
Recognizing the stalwarts among us as an independent nation helps to define us as a people. Their successes offer every Kittitian and Nevisian boy and girl a chance to see the reality of their dreams in the Dr. Hulls, Dr. Wade, Dr. Jeffers and the Sir Rawlins’ of our nation. The pinnacle of achievements of our own people is attainable but the thread that connects us as a people must be woven deeply in our hearts, willing us to give our very best to change the communities, our nation and the world we occupy.
As we honor our accomplished citizens, let us think deeply about how we are prepared to keep the flame of hard work alight. Be reminded that none of our honorees were without mentors of some kind. Be it a teacher who believed in them; a parent who stayed up or called while they burned the midnight oil; a friend versed in a subject area; or a wisdom filled colleague from which to draw strength.  Many of our young people are fast losing their connection with the world around them. We can ill-afford to lose those very resources that are key to enlightening generations to come. We must become like drill sergeants and drive home to them the importance of aiming high and doing so every day.
All of today’s honorees have had a rich history of a connection to their communities, as well as strong regional and international presence, which essentially bodes well for our youth. They have practiced diligence in their respective fields all their lives. They must now ensure they too pass the baton.
As Aristotle reminded us, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence therefore is not an act but a habit.”
Thanks to the Hearts and Hands for Nevis organization for using its work as a platform to honor excellence in recognition of some of the esteemed citizens of our nation who continue to make their mark as trailblazers in their respective fields.
On behalf of my government and the people of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, I salute the honorees on this auspicious occasion and I applaud The Hearts and Hands for Nevis for their work and commitment to excellence.
Thanks for inviting me to share with you.

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