The St. John Hospice in Antigua

The St. John Hospice facility in Antigua is the only Hospice in the Eastern Caribbean, has been open for over a year and, I am happy to report, is running like clockwork. Our Patron, Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack, Governor General of Antigua & Barbuda, once a nurse herself, has been very instrumental in securing funding for us and supports us 100%. Our Counsel, chaired by Patrick Henry, overseas the general operation, while Jane George-John provides day-to-day administrative skills. Our aim is to be completely transparent, and to that end, produce an annual report for public information.

As you can imagine, this is extremely important to me, having gone through two years in lobbying the Government to provide the Gwenneth O’Reilly Building at Holberton and a further year in securing funds of $750,000 to complete the renovations. They layout and location of the structure was perfect; however, the termites had taken up residence and this necessitated completely gutting the building, while other structural renovations were also necessary.

St. John Hospice opened its doors on January 1st, 2012 and today employs 17 persons in the capacity of office, housekeeping and nursing care. We offer 11 beds, nine of which are for the terminally ill, while two are for respite care. We are a Not for Profit Organisation, and the fees charged in no way compensate for the cost of running this facility which, after a year, has proven to be $550,000 annually.

The community, both business and private, has been fantastic in their support starting with Dr. Raphael Evanson who volunteers his time providing medical services. Our volunteers provide help with preparing meals, office work, visiting and reading to patients, massage, gardening, painting and repairs, fresh flowers and baked goods. Several companies supply us with weekly groceries and fresh vegetables, and supplement our housekeeping supplies, while others donate periodically. Various organizations have held fund raisers specifically for the Hospice and we are working within the community with such institutions as The American University of Antigua, Breast Friends and Ffeines, just to name a few.

Our staff is indeed special in their care for the patients – from housekeeping, who prepare special meals, to the Registered Nurses and Aides who are the backbone of the organization. Emotionally, it is not an easy business to be in, but a very caring and necessary one, and it takes special people to provide this day in and day out.

Necessary, I repeat; and as more and more people are exposed to the service we offer for the terminally ill, the more the hospice palliative care is appreciated. 2013 saw a definite trend in the acceptance of the Hospice within the community compared to 2012, our first year of operation. It is not the ‘death house,’ people expected, but is actually a happy place; a home away from home, where each terminally ill person is provided with pain control and is loved and cared for, allowing them to die with dignity. It is very peaceful. Family and loved ones may visit at any hour, even spend the night if they wish – visiting hours are not restricted.

Personally, I am still in awe of what has been created here, and until I actually set out to make the Hospice a reality, would never have seen myself in this role, much less conquering the various hurdles, the largest of which was, and remains, funding. I know nothing about nursing or the medical field, seldom getting past the aspirin stage. I am a firm believer in ‘things happen, and they happen for a reason,’ and because the Hospice is what it is, it has received the backing and support of many.

I feel confident that I could step back at any point in time and leave something that will benefit many and endure the passage of time.

Agnes C. Meeker                                                                                                                                 Founder


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The Virtue of Generosity

Thoughts on Virtues

This past week “Our House” focused on the virtue of ‘generosity.’  As it happened, the week saw a violent death in a tragic, long-lived case of domestic violence.  It was a horrible reminder of how much work we have to do in this world, and it would have been so easy to end up focusing on that barbaric event.  The victim was a friend of mine, so it was especially challenging to return later in the week to ‘generosity.’ 

In a way, though, what transpired was an example of why “Our House” and the “Sunday Morning Reflection Program” on Observer radio focus on virtue.  It is much easier to be fearful or cynical than it is to be builders, and to consciously teach and practice virtues is to build.

Virtues – the attributes of God—are the building blocks of civilization.  In our materialistic societies and in the harsh noise of religious bickering over the outward forms of faiths, we have left the heart of the matter behind, and our present social crises are the result of that neglect.  Virtues run through all cultures, all religions.  They are a common denominator by which, if we were to place them in the forefront of our relationships, we would be guided through the challenges of a rapidly-changing world, and through the self-centeredness of materialism.  Nowadays we rarely even speak the language of these beautiful words: “tolerance,” “compassion,” “trustworthiness.” 

Back to ‘generosity,’ another of those beautiful words.   The week also saw the generosity of sponsors who contribute to young writers’ workshops, of souls so touched by the plight of a sick grandmother that they pledged and donated and worked tirelessly to see that this woman would have a chance to regain health and keep caring for her family.  In such acts we see the promise of real civilization.   Those are the examples we need to keep before us and our children.

That is why the focus of these two radio programs will continue to be on what is good in us, what we must aspire to and seek to practice.  The virtues are not easy – they require careful reflection, effort, wisdom.  But it is vital to renew our commitment to developing these attributes in ourselves and in those who come after us. I hope you will join in this commitment and strive to make the virtues part of our everyday conversations.

Deborah Eckert,

Antigua & Barbuda

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On a hot, hazy early-August afternoon in 1970, I boarded an Eastern Airlines flight headed for New York.  Although I had traveled regionally, this would be my first international flight. It was an emotion-packed journey. Any excitement I felt was tempered by feelings of anxiety over the pending loss of the familiar and the fear of the unknown and I wondered whether all young women, on long journeys to distant worlds, carry more weight in their minds than in their suitcases.

We landed at JKF Airport at approximately 7:22 p.m.  I had heard my Auntie and my American cousins talk impressively about smooth flights and perfect landings and I imagined that this must have been one of them since my fellow passengers broke out in spontaneous applause as the plane touched down.  I followed suit and clapped, enthusiastically … like I had a clue.

We were escorted off the aircraft through a narrow, covered walkway and onto a waiting bus.  A bus?  Something wasn’t quite right here.  This was surely not what I was expecting. I panicked.  And as the bus pulled off and taxied slowly down the tarmac I looked around at the other passengers, searching their faces for signs of worry or concern.  But for the most part, everyone seemed relaxed, at ease, even happy.  Maybe there was no reason to worry.  I tried to relax.

We were taxiing for about seven minutes when it suddenly occurred to me that I had not been handed my luggage.  I panicked.  Where was my luggage?  Why was I on a bus?  It further occurred to me that no one had asked me my destination.  How would they know that I was going to Brooklyn?  Could they have picked up that information from the immigration form I filled out en route?  But a bus doesn’t take people door to door and even if it did, how would I know when my stop came?  And how would my relatives who had promised to be there to meet me, know that I had gone on to Brooklyn ahead of them?

I peered through the window as the bus continued on its mysterious journey.  Where were the houses…the shops…the skyscrapers  and all the wonders of New York I’d heard so much about?  Where was civilization?  All I could see were lights…lights high above me and lights low to the ground.  And worst of all, rain … the kind of rain that distorted my vision and obscured everything I tried to see.

Pride, I thought, is a funny thing.  Because paralyzed as I was with fear and worry, I could not bring myself to inquire of those around just what was going on.  I could have been on my way to finding myself lost and alone on some street corner in Brooklyn … and without a change of clothes.  But I was not going to look foolish in the process.  I might have been less traveled but I was no less sophisticated.  Or so I thought.

Several minutes later, the bus finally came to a stop.  My fellow passengers immediately began busying themselves…gathering up personal belongings and freshening up their makeup.  I watched and waited.  Something was about to happen. I peered through the window and saw that the rain had subsided. And there were lights…bright lights and people scurrying about.  There was an announcement…something about the terminal.  And as I alighted, I caught sight of the sign—EASTERN AIRLINES TERMINAL.  I was beginning to get the picture.  Culture shock!  The words repeated in my head … Culture shock!  I smiled; then I laughed … audibly.


Bernilyn A. Isaac

AGHS Alumnus – Class of 1968

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May is Lupus Awareness Month

The Lupus Foundation of America is the only national force devoted to solving the mystery of lupus, one of the world’s cruelest, most unpredictable, and devastating diseases, while giving caring support to those who suffer from its brutal impact. Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™. Learn more

What is Lupus

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

· Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better). Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.

· Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.

· Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.

· Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.

· Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.

· It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.

· Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.

· Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus.

· People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

· More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.

Article is from the Lupus Foundation of America


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I had never been into my appearance that much before my sophomore year of college. My first year of college especially, I tended to choose comfort over fashion trends. The occasional eyeliner here, a little bit of mascara there, some jeans, sweats and some jewelry, but nothing snazzy unless my presence was required at some sort of special event. But then something happened. As a part of a process I went through with some sorority sisters, I was all of a sudden forbidden to wear makeup, jewelry, and even wear my hair in any style I chose. The reason being we were all naturally beautiful, and shouldn't rely on enhancements to recognize that. Now, I know what you're thinking. I never wore that much of it anyway, so, in theory, it shouldn't have been that big of a deal, right? Wrong. In my own mind, I already recognized that I, and every other woman walking planet earth, am beautiful in our own way; an idea my mother instilled in my mind early on. Although I complied, it bothered me that I couldn't dress to impress as I pleased. It bothered me more that I hadn't taken the opportunity to look my best all the time when I could. They say you never miss the water 'till the well runs dry. Now I was forced to look my worst at any given time and the only upside was that I wasn't doing it alone. This continued until the end of the fall semester sophomore year. Once the process was over, I vowed to never let myself have another bumpy day again. I wanted to take pride in the way I looked, and convey that pride. The fact is the better you look, the more confident and better you feel! The process actually made me yearn to represent myself better, down to the way I walked, talked, and looked. This is where my fashion and makeup hobby began.

I began learning techniques and experimenting with makeup through videos on YouTube. YouTube is actually a great way to learn almost anything! Play the piano, learn to cook, learn to do your hair, learn to dress, and learn to do your makeup. There is a vast community of women (and even some men!) who refer to themselves as "beauty gurus" who show their techniques on how they get ready in the morning or for special events. Plenty of professional makeup artists showing how they do what they do, and the best part is... IT’S FREE! I began to watch and subscribe to endless YouTube accounts where women showed off their skills and gave step by step instructions on how to achieve nearly flawless makeup, both with expensive makeup brands and drug store quality collections. If there was one thing I learned, it was that makeup can do wonders.

Skip to 2013 and my interests have expanded to fashion and hair as well. I enjoy getting dressed, trying different eye shadow combinations, and even sometimes practicing my skills on my mom and friends. Whenever I get questions on how I do my makeup or where I shop for clothing, I always try to help and suggest the "beauty gurus" as a starting point. Hopefully one day I will build up enough confidence to offer my services to do weddings or make a YouTube channel of my own. But for now, I'll stick to sharing what I know and what I like through writing.

By Kenya Dyer

Kenya A. Dyer, 23, is a 2011 Dickinson College graduate currently residing in the US. Kenya continues to attend school after college in hopes to attain her nursing degree. Kenya practices makeup and photography in her spare time. In between classes and a full time job, you can usually find Kenya enjoying all New York City has to offer or at her favorite store, Sephora.


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Dentistr and You

Dentistry and You




Oral health is a necessity, but not always seen as such.


Carious, broken down teeth and periodontal disease can cause infection, which, when untreated, will impact speech, digestion, swallowing, respiration, and become a potential for debilitation and even death.


That being said, here are some early preventative methods to protect and maintain oral health.

  • Children should be taken to the dental office as early as one year of age.
  • Tooth brushing should be started as soon as the first teeth appear in the mouth.
  • Cleaning of teeth for children can be with moist gauze sponge, without toothpaste for the infant up to age two.
  • Toothpaste should not exceed the amount of a small pea.
  • Bottles must not be used as a pacifier/comforter.  The meal should be completed and the bottle removed.
  • Children should not b allowed to fall asleep with a bottle, especially if it contains sugary or acidic fluids.
  • The last activity before bedtime for infant, child or adult should be a thorough cleaning of the oral cavity including teeth, gum, and tongue.
  • Keep lips as moist as possible.
  • Remember, the full complement of primary teeth, also called “baby teeth”, is twenty (20).  All 20 are usually in the oral cavity by age 2 years.
  • All of the “baby teeth” are usually lost by age 11 – 12 years, and replaced by the permanent teeth.
  • The first permanent teeth are usually the mandibular, (lower), first molars which erupt into the oral cavity behind the last lower primary molar at approximately 6 years of age.
  • The first permanent molars are usually lost at an early age, prematurely because parents/caregivers do not realize that they are part of the new PERMANENT teeth that will never be replaced!

How many of these dental facts/preventative methods were you aware of?

Send your questions to the editor.

Remember, the body is made up of many parts:


The mouth is just as important as any other part of the body!

Until the next dental presentation, enjoy life, eat well, and keep a clean, healthy mouth!

By Dr. Opal Goodwich.

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