Sister Islands welcome new governor

Moments after his arrival on Cayman Brac on Wednesday, March 28, the Cayman Islands’ new governor, Anwar Choudhury, found himself shaking hands with John Gayle, 13, a member of the Brac’s cadet corps.

“Do you know what a governor does?” Mr. Choudhury asked the young man, who shook his head. “Neither do I,” he added with a laugh. “I’m learning as well.”

Part of that learning process was touring the Sister Islands, just two days after his arrival in Cayman. The governor said it was important to him to touch down on the Brac and Little Cayman “straight away.”

“My priority is to meet all Caymanians and get a sense of what is important to them,” he said. He told his aides, “I want to get out here as soon as possible and listen and meet people and see how we can work together.”

Those he met with seemed to appreciate the attention.

“We’re really happy we didn’t get left out,” said Deborah Truchan, with the National Trust on Little Cayman. “A lot of times, I think, we’re kind of an afterthought.”

Premier Alden McLaughlin said he was impressed with Governor Choudhury’s efforts to engage with the communities on the smaller islands.

“The governors who have been most successful are the ones who have taken the time to learn about Cayman culture,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “He’s incredibly curious and anxious to learn as much as he can.”

Wednesday’s introductory tour, he said, will provide a foundation for Mr. Choudhury.

“When we talk to him about Cayman Brac, he’ll have a reference point,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “He’s been here and he’s met some of the people.”

The governor visited sites on Cayman Brac such as the Heritage House, the lighthouse on the island’s east end, the Cayman Brac Sports Complex, Faith Hospital and the Kirkconnell Community Care Centre. It was a moment he experienced at this final stop that stood out for him, when he met a 100-year-old resident of the center.

Mr. Choudhury asked Education Minister and Cayman Brac East MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, who was along on the tour, about getting involved with the charity that helps support the center.

“I’ve always looked after elderly relatives,” Mr. Choudhury later said. “At the end of life, it’s a very lonely time. The least you can do is give them some company.”

At Faith Hospital, the governor provided a brief glimpse of the kind of leadership he might provide. Dr. Spirangan Velusamy told Mr. Choudhury about the hospital’s ability to send X-rays digitally to Grand Cayman to be analyzed. The governor suggested the hospital tap into a worldwide system that allows access to specialists across the globe for consultation. A hospital administrator said they have been exploring the idea.

“Don’t explore it,” Mr. Choudhury said. “Get it started and it will happen. And it’s free. We can take our standards and be as good as anyone on the planet.”

Brackers, a term Mr. Choudhury quickly picked up and used, also provided a reception for the governor at the Aston Rutty Centre. He told the crowd there that he looked forward to addressing issues they were concerned about, touching on such topics as education, infrastructure, investment and security.

But, he said, “The work I’m going to enjoy most is getting to know you. I want our countries to be closer. I want our cultures to be closer, to create a sense of family.”

On Little Cayman, Mr. Choudhury visited the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, which focuses on reef ecology. He was driven the entire length of the island before stopping at the Gladys B. Howard Little Cayman National Trust Visitors Centre for a short reception.

“I sense that of the three beautiful islands, we’ve saved the best for last,” he said, drawing applause from the small group of people there.

He said he felt his visit to the two smaller islands completed his introduction to the Cayman Islands.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” Mr. Choudhury said. “I take away a sense of all of Cayman. It fills me with much optimism.

“What I found is kindness,” he added. “What I found is a special smile. What I found is beauty, both in the people here and in these exceptional lands. It was a very special day for me.”