REMARKS from Seth Ampadu ,Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Church in Saint Lucia received widespread attention last week as the minister via a sermon at the Forestiere Methodist Church urged married couples to produce more children. In his words, “God made man and woman to procreate, to produce the family.” Those who were able were according to the minister, charged with responsibility of doing so.
His remarks came against the backdrop of a recently released UNICEF report which details Saint Lucia has the highest proportion of adolescents among countries in the Eastern Caribbean: 19 percent compared with an average of 15 percent across the region. In addition, close to one third of adolescents are living in poverty. According to the report, the adolescent poverty rate is significantly higher than the poverty rates for the older population (21 %) and for the population as a whole (25%).
The Minister’s comment sparked much debate last week, some considering his statement ‘reckless’ particularly his sentiments did not seem to take other factors into account, including finances, increasing social ills, or even job and wage insecurity – just last week several sectors of the work force engaged in industrial action amid wage negotiations. Rather than consider whether people were in the position financially, emotionally, or whether they were stable enough within their own lives not just to have, but to raise children, the minister encouraged married persons to pro create children simply because it was the ‘will of God’.
The Planned Parenthood Association of Saint Lucia spoke out quickly in response, urging couples to choose wisely on the matter of having children.
Acting Executive Director of the Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Geralda Bray speaking to a local media outlet said the Planned Parenthood Association encouraged women to decide the number of children they wished to have, and the time in which they wanted to have them. Proper family planning was paramount, and she said the Association also encouraged women, married or not to protect themselves and take care of their health. ‘Be wise’, she stated, also quoting the Good Book.
Though the Minister perhaps inadvertently started a conversation on family planning, he also successfully taught a lesson on using platforms and one’s words responsibly!
More on the UNICEF report in our next issue.