By Valencia Grant:
All 60 students from St. Kitts and Nevis living in the Republic of China (Taiwan) are safe and well, and – needless to say – their parents are quite relieved and happy.
Twenty-three-year-old André Freeman of Saddlers Village, St. Kitts is one of 10 Kittitian and Nevisian students living in Hualien, the area most affected by Tuesday’s 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan. He is pursuing university studies in Computer and Information Systems.
This afternoon, Mr. Urban Freeman, his father, said from St. Kitts, “When I saw the news and the [tilting] buildings…I didn’t want my wife to get too alarmed about it so I didn’t say much to her about it, but I sent a message to my son and he sent back a message saying he was OK…so today I am relaxed. I am here comfortable.”
Mr. Freeman also said, “I looked at the news and I was saying, ‘this looks serious, people are missing, I need to send a message to hear what André is saying for himself’…Up to this morning, messages have been coming back via WhatsApp to say that he is OK.”
Mr. Freeman conveyed his appreciation to the St. Kitts-Nevis Government, which he feels is demonstrating a high level of caring in the aftermath of the earthquake. “It’s nice to hear that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is concerned about the well-being of the students and wants to express its feelings to the parents to make sure that the parents are comfortable because we are stakeholders with our children out there. It’s kind of hard being away from home over this long distance and not having your family this close to you. So you calling me to express the sentiments on behalf of the Government, I think that’s a very good gesture there, and also you should express it to them [the students] over there – all of them – so that they know we always care and we are here praying for them.”
Mrs. Doris Prentice-Sutton of Basseterre was also comforted to hear from her daughter in Taiwan who is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering, after having earned an associates’ degree in architecture and design. Twenty-five-year-old Shameika Prentice, who left home in 2015 to study in Taiwan, has a busy schedule as Vice President of the Association of St. Kitts-Nevis Nationals in Taiwan, but always makes time to connect with her family.
“I spoke with her this morning,” Shameika Prentice’s mom said this afternoon. “I speak with her every day,” Mrs. Prentice-Sutton added.
When told that she should rest assured because Shameika is in very good hands, her mom said with a relieved laugh, “Yes, the Ambassador [Her Excellency Jasmine Huggins, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Resident Ambassador to Taiwan] is very involved.”