Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. (FP)

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has underscored the importance of volunteerism, saying it would have to be a key component in the country “building forward better” for citizens.

Ms. Mottley expressed this view on Monday, during a Student Appreciation event hosted by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, to thank those students who were involved in Government’s Seek and Save Initiative to combat COVID-19 and the National Vaccination Campaign.

The Prime Minister told the students that through the programme, they had taught the country a valuable lesson in civics, bravery and compassion.  

She continued: “I hope that the lessons of the past year have cemented in your minds a concept that service to your community, service to our community must be a life-long experience.

“This will be critical as we move forward in a post-COVID Barbados, and in a post-COVID world, because of the extent to which we will have to assist always the most vulnerable among us. Getting individuals and families back on their feet will require us to extend a helping hand, perhaps unmatched by any period in our modern history.”

Ms. Mottley said their visits to almost 100,000 households across the island during Seek and Save gave them the opportunity to see everything about the community.  

She added that as they operated the SHAPE app, they were not just manipulating data, but capturing the stories of lives.

She noted that even though the country had come far and the students had contributed to winning the COVID-19 battle, she stressed that the war against the virus was not over and persons should not let their guard down.

The Prime Minister told the students that they had set a new benchmark for what Operation Give Back would mean for students currently at the university and those to follow. 

She continued: “When we as a nation decided that there was immense value in bearing the financial burden of covering your education costs at this university, we did so with the clear understanding that the country would always benefit as you succeeded and you gave back.

“But what you have given to our country by manning the data entry process of the National Vaccination effort, even after the Operation Seek and Save initiative, … surpassed what would otherwise have been envisaged as a student’s repayment of his or her debt,” Ms. Mottley opined.

Over 400 students were involved in these initiatives.

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