It is official! Barbudans who were relocated to Antigua following the passage of Hurricane Irma in September are now in possession of a new home as the long-defunct Nurses Hostel is now operational after three months of rehabilitative work.
The building, now affectionately known as the Barbuda Hotel, was officially commissioned and blessed on Friday during a ceremony at the facility on the compound of the old Holberton hospital.
During his seventeen minute address, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Hon. Gaston Browne stated that the facility is in immaculate condition, equal to that of a new bed and breakfast facility. He believes that once all the landscaping work is completed, the edifice will be the envy of many.
“I am very pleased to be participating in this brief ceremony which represents the blessing of the Nurses Hostel, I believe more appropriately, the Barbuda Hotel. I had the opportunity to tour the facilities here and I imagine that when the landscape work is completed, that this facility will rival any bed and breakfast anywhere in the Caribbean.” Prime Minister Browne said.
Health and Environment Minister, Molwyn Joseph, was also on hand for the exercise and he was ecstatic with the developments and transformation that has taken place at the site.
Joseph, the chairperson of the Hurricane Response National Coordinating Committee, created after Hurricane Irma devastated Barbuda, said that it took a herculean effort by all parties, particularly the honorable Prime Minister to ensure the success of the operation.
“I stand here this morning very delighted that we have reached to this stage of the rehabilitation of this facility that in a few short hours we will accommodate the Barbudans residents that are currently assigned to the Anchorage Inn. But make no mistake, what you are witnessing here is the result of a visionary decision that was made by our Prime Minister,” Minister Joseph said.
The decision was made to rehabilitate the Nurses Hostel so that the Barbudans living in shelters could feel more at home and in a facility that will better protect them and ensure their privacy.
Member of Parliament for Barbuda, Arthur Nibbs was the individual with the biggest and brightest smile during the service and he was instrumental in leading the crowd in singing the song, “Thanks, Thanks, We give thee thanks” and he also showered praises on the leadership of Prime Minister Browne.
Chairperson of the Barbuda Council, Knacyntar Nedd, expressed her delight with the latest moves, calling it a step in the right direction as Barbudans continue to repair their lives following the disaster.
“The government and council are committed to restoring accommodation, and it is imperative that temporary housing be provided as an interim measure and as such we have found it necessary to utilize the former Nurses Hostel as a shelter. It is hoped that this facility will offer some comfort until persons can return to their permanent residence,” declared Nedd.
Minister of Social Transformation and Human Development, Samantha Marshall was also on hand, performing the duties of master of ceremonies.
The newly outfitted facility is equipped with 57 rooms (double and single) and will accommodate 75 to 80 residents who are currently being housed at the Anchorage Inn and the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The Barbudans are expected to be transferred to their new home over the weekend.