It is my great honour and privilege to once again commend the efforts of Pastor Lincoln Hazell and his devoted congregation at the Apostolic Faith Church for organizing the Annual Sanitation Workers Appreciation Day, which is now in its 16thyear.
Every year without fail since 2002, you keep honouring our hard-working women and men, who handle, collect and dispose of our garbage; clean our streets, parks and beaches, and protect our environment.
On behalf of the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis, I heartily congratulate all our sanitation workers for seamlessly performing an essential service to the public by keeping our communities and country clean, safe and habitable.
This Sanitation Workers Appreciation Day and every day, we thank all the dedicated employees at the Parks and Beaches Unit, Public and Environmental Health, Public Works, the Solid Waste Management Corporation, the Water Department and other related agencies.
You are all important cogs in safeguarding the health of our nation. You work tirelessly and meticulously to defend and improve our country’s quality of life and public safety. None of you is insignificant. Indeed, each and every one of you is necessary to set the wheel of progress in motion.
In recognition of this, the theme for Sanitation Workers Appreciation Day 2018 is Health Can Only Be Achieved With All Of Us Working Together.
It was this realization that inspired John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, to write a medical handbook titled Primitive Physick, offering practical health advice for the benefit of poor and working-class families.
A vocal advocate for hygiene and sanitation, John Wesley first said the now-famous quote Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness in one of his sermons delivered in 18th-century Britain where poor hygiene and sanitation claimed many lives at that time.
Here in 21st-century St. Kitts and Nevis, we are blessed with a strong and resilient public health and hygiene system that provides essential services and ensures the protection of our environment and people.
We saw this in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September when sanitation crews headed for the front lines to restore our communities, leaving their own homes and families in order to look out for the interests of others.
I have fond memories of working side by side with several of them. After the passage of Hurricane Maria, I assisted in rehabilitating our Bay Road and Frigate Bay Strip by helping to shovel up debris along with the Minister of Public Infrastructure and employees of Public Works.
Working together, we removed mounds of debris, focusing on our sense of pride, love, responsibility and service for our beloved country and fellow man. God duly blessed our disciplined efforts as our country embarked on a national clean-up campaign, for we know that Roman 8:28 states, “…all things work together for good to them that love God, who have been called according to his purpose.” (New International Version)
As we reflect on this truth, the Scripture verse (Leviticus 26:8) that Pastor Lincoln Hazell is highlighting this Sunday also reminds us that God blesses us – and blesses our work – when our hearts are in the right place. No matter who we are and what situation we are going through, little is much when God is in it.
So, as Leviticus 26:8 states, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.” (New International Version)
As we celebrate Sanitation Workers Appreciation Day, I encourage us all to consider the powerful yet simple message contained in both the first verse and refrain of the much-loved hymn by Kittie L. Suffield:
In the harvest field now ripened
There’s a work for all to do;
Hark! the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.
May God bless you and your families bountifully as you reap your well-deserved harvest on this 16thAnnual Sanitation Workers Appreciation Day!