The Commonwealth of Dominica is a small developing country. It hardly figures on a world map. Often, it is confused in the minds of foreigners with the Dominican Republic. In earlier years, there have been people who were ashamed to tell foreigners that they were from Dominica. The implication was that if you come from the Commonwealth of Dominica, you are nobody at all!

To some extent, we have crossed that barrier. However, in many ways, besides numbers, we still lay behind the developed world. So it is a welcome surprise when we are reminded that there are many Dominicans overseas who, in spite of all odds, have performed very creditably and are making an outstanding contribution to the world in which they live.

Dr. Gerald Voliere was born in Pointe Michel on October 31, 1959. His parents are Joseph Voliere and Phillipa Letang. He grew up in poor conditions. The fact that his parents did not live together placed him at a tremendous disadvantage, as far as parenting goes. The redeeming feature of his life was his encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Green.

Dr. Voliere obtained his primary education at the Roseau Mixed Infant School, at the Roseau Girls' School (which was then a co-educational school). He later attended classes at the Roseau Boys' School.

He obtained secondary education at the St. Mary's Academy at a time when then Fr. Kelvin Felix and Brother Egbert Germaine were the Principal. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Green, who took him into their home as a son, his tuition was paid and he was able to launch into an educational career, which prepared him for taking his rightful place in the world.

Dr. Gerald Voliere was poor but full of ambition. Some may remember that at the age of eleven or twelve, as Mighty Coco Stick, he won the Junior Calypso Competition. His openness to constructive living seems to have inspired many to help him. He was somewhat outspoken and free-spirited, but he was disciplined. He was an altar server at the Roseau Cathedral.

While he was a student at the St. Mary's Academy, he learnt much and derived much inspiration from his mentors. He gives credit to then Brother Jno. Lewis and Ms. Marcella Severin for moral and intellectual inspiration. Mr. St. Havis Shillingford helped and inspired him. Brother French and the other Christian Brothers, Mr. Joseph Kentish, Mrs. Eualine Prince, Mr. Louis Gabriel, Mr. Rupert Sorhaindo were all of great help to him. Of Mr. Aurelius Jolly, who was a master at the St. Mary's Academy, he says, "He had a good influence on me." Mrs. Rosalind Volney, Mr. and Mrs. Khalil Brohim and Bishop Arnold Boghaert gave him financial assistance. On leaving home, he kept a correspondence with Bishop Boghaert.

He left Dominica in 1981 or 1982 for Canada, to pursue studies leading to a profession, the great desire of his life. He received financial help from Mr. Oliver Green, Mr. Paul Green and many other Dominicans. Bishop Arnold Boghaert and Mr. St. Havis Shillingford assisted him generously. After a year in Canada, the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrick John, awarded him a scholarship.

Dr. Gerald Voliere was a very diligent student. He studied at St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he obtained the Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry. At Dalhousie University, Halifax, he obtained the Diploma in Dental Hygiene, followed by the Diploma in Health Sciences Administration. Next, he went to the University of Toronto, Canada, where he obtained the Bachelor of Science Degree in Dentistry.

He proceeded to Riga Stradina University in Latvia, in the Baltics where he became a doctor in Dental Surgery.

When I asked Dr. Voliere what was his favourite sport, his immediate reply was "Martial Arts". His smart-looking physique bears testimony to this.

At present, Dr. Voliere teaches Dentistry at a University in Wenzhou, China. He says that he has had a fantastic experience in China. He has travelled to Hong Kong and Osaka, Japan. He worked in Saudi Arabia for one year teaching Dental Hygiene.

Dr. Voliere has been married twice. He has four children, three boys and one girl. They live in Canada.

I met Dr. Gerald Voliere accidentally on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Roseau. In fact, he it was who recognized me. It was for me a most happy encounter. Dr. Voliere is an accomplished professional and a wonderful gentleman. What pleases me greatly is that he is a simple man endeavouring to make sense of the mysteries of life. He is a man with a noble heart, full of gratitude for all those who have assisted him on his journey through life. It is always a source of great joy for me to encounter people who have made use of all opportunities presented to them and in the process experience that it is good to be alive.