Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Canabelle Soap Womens Co-op: The Soap Making Process on Video

Here is set of videos and pictures to demonstrate the soap making process for the Women's Canabelle Soap Co-op in the fishing village of Canaries in St. Lucia. First I will give a brief background on Canabelle Soap and then show the videos on the soap making process. Lastly will talk about the soap co-ops development plan. Enjoy!

Augusta our treasurer with the accounting book.

Canabelle Soap has been in existence for 7 years. It was started as a project to teach rural women entrepreneurial skills with the promise that a factory would be opened in the area for these women to produce soap. This would have provided employment for Canaries village, a village that suffers the highest unemployment rate on the island at a staggering 30%.

Group Shot of some of the members.

At the same time another women's group was learning the art of basket making. At the end of the training both groups were left without mentoring or direct assistance in marketing their products. The factory never came and so the groups dusted of their shoulders and moved on to make their own way. The two groups merged together to form the Canabelle Soap Co-op. Canabelle soap does not receive direct government funding and is a initiative that is entirely run by the group.

The group has developed a wonderful product that through their own efforts has been marketed to the local drug stores and the island gift shops. So without a consistent market to sell the soap to and no distribution point the Co-op has struggles to reach a level of profitability for its members so soap is produced in intermittent spurts.

The soap by the way feels good, makes my skin feel nice in a way that I can tell a difference and I am anything but a pampering/natural product person. I prefer the Glory Cedar and Aloe Soap or the Sulphur Spring one.

Now on to the soap making process, please enjoy the video clips.

This first video shows the first step of laying down the wax paper in the soap form tray to prevent the soap from sticking when it is poured and dried.

Step 2 shows the measuring of the lye and some of the ingredients used.

Scale for measuring, the most critical component of soap making.

The main ingredients.

Step 3 The mixing of lye and soap with an explanation from the treasurer Augusta on the process.

A bag of lye.

Simple equipment.

Step 4 The blending process, it would take hours to stir the lye/water mixture with the oils, but with a blender it takes merely 30 seconds.

Step 4 1/2 Mixing and explanation of mixing process, also discuss safety needs. During this step the ingredients of the soap are also added. Sulphur, Glory Cedar, Nutmeg, Aloe, Oatmeal.

Step 5 Final Stage, pouring in mold, and explanation of last process.

The Soap in a drying rack, it takes 24hrs to harden, its recommended that it sits for one week before its ready for cutting and packaging. The yellow color will disappear within 24hrs.

The below pictures show the soap after it has been dried and cut the first time, it cut one more time for the soap bars and then packaged for distribution.

First Cut Nice Picture

Nice shot of Cyrillia with the raw soap that has just been cut.

Here are some final shots of the product, they have two different packages for the soap and their main brands are. Glory Cedar and Aloe, Nutmeg, Sulphur Spring, and Oatmeal Aloe.

Proud of their product.

Soap shot, alternative package using a string.

Completely all natural ingredients straight from the rain forest up Riverside road.

Canabelle is the ideal group to fund, its all women and in international studies women in developing countries return 80% of their income directly back into their family.

Outside view of the village.

The group is entrepreneurial generating real income and they have already survived the main steps of forming a constitution, getting licenses as a small business and they have developed a great product they have successfully sold with a proven track record or being in existence for 7 years.

There need are in marketing, infrastructure, and a building.

They building part is covered through the old church development project that I have been working on with Community Club, Father Goodman and the Parish Council with Mrs Jarvis. They will have the upstairs to use rent free for 10years so they can build up capitol. By having their own building they will also finally be able to get licensing through the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards and of course it will provide a distribution point for their product.

Picture of old work area above the community center, they were confined to working out of a 8 by 6ft closet. The balcony area in the old church will provide them all the area they could possibly need.

So bottom line what does this group need to move forward? They need some equipment. The first priority is safety equipment, if you watched video (step 4 1/2) you would hear how they mix the lye and are at risk for being splashed by it. With the old blender they are using that has broken gap at the top this is a very real possibility.


Lye while being mixed is extremely acidic, its burns skin on contact and will cause blindness if comes into contact with the eyes.

1. They need 4-6 sets of heavy rubber gloves and 3 plastic face shields or at the least some protective eye wear.
2. A heavy duty blender. The current one they use is on its last leg, without a working blender the soap making process stops.

Blender Base

3. A heavy duty mixer (the large ones used in restaurant kitchens)

Marketing is the next major component. Currently I am working on their promotional brochures and I should have them done at the end of the month beginning of August. We will begin printing them and I will begin meeting with the hotel association with the President of the group. The goal is to work through them to develop a sample soap for guests to use while they stay. If we could accomplish this our production could reach a level where the members begin receiving a return. Rough estimates show we need to produce 200 soaps per month. These promotional brochures will help us with marketing. We will need sponsorship in printing them since it is so expensive to print here. Around $100US would do it. I will also be taking the brochures and development plan to the coconut oil factory to discuss them donating oil, the main ingredients and discuss them selling it to us in the future in bulk at cost.

When these infrastructure needs are met and production is going we will need a few people to help market the soap to some of their friends a few local shops.

Thanks for reading and always thank you for your support for this fishing village.

Great group shot, go girls you can do it!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Butters the cat that adopted me.

Well say goodbye to one bottle of Chairmans Reserve per month, I now have a cat to feed.

She was abandoned by her mother on the side of the house, after hearing her cry all day and all night my "taking in orphan" instinct kicked in and now I have a new friend.

She is pretty cute, need a flea collar, hope to pick one up in Castries Friday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

US Navy Service Project: Securing the Old Church

I just received word that my proposal was accepted for the US Navy service project.

The US Navy service men and women like to do service projects when they make port in different countries. They offer labor $400 US towards materials for the project. One of the first steps that needs to be taken for the old church is to secure the building. Street drunks continue to break in and any valuables inside will be vandalized. With a new coat of paint and a secure building Canabelle would be able to begin using the building and work towards receiving licensing from the St. Lucia Bureau of standards. The Navy will be here between August 20-24Th so were excited about this. This will go and long way towards securing funding for a complete renovation with the building be partially used. Below is the proposal for your review.

Cannabelle Soap and Canaries Church Proposal for the Navy
Developed by Canaries Community Club the Canaries Parish Council, Father Goodman and the Canaries Peace Corps Volunteer Lee Klejnot
June 27th, 2007

1.1 Introduction
The Cannabelle Soap and Canaries Church Proposal for the Navy is about securing the old church. It is also about securing the heart of Canaries. It is about taking a big step forward in ending the highest unemployment rate on the island. Securing the old church will provide infrastructure improvements to the village that will increase income and provide employment and strengthen the community and its groups as a whole. With its repair the building will be secure and fully usable for the following economic and social benefits:
• Canaries Tourist Craft and Gift Market
• A permanent structure for Cannabelle Soap; a Canaries cottage industry that primarily provides employment for 8-10 single mothers.
• A community center area in a village where there is a severe lack of land building space.
• An income generating center providing a venue for local crafts and art made in Canaries and the greater island.
• A venue for evening activities for the village.
• The expansion of tourism in Canaries

1.2 Background to the Project
A. The community of Canaries has long been in need of a community center area for large meetings and activities. With the limited space available above the village clerk’s office it has been difficult for community groups to have large meetings or functions. This area is also not accessible for disabled and difficult for older citizens to enter.

B. Cannabelle Soap Cooperative a Canaries local cottage industry that provides employment for 10 women who are part of the St. Lucia’s Rural Women’s Development group has not been able to expand or gain licensing because their work area is confined to the upstairs community center. They are limited, having a 5x8 closet to store all of their equipment, supplies and products. The old church has long been seen as a way to deal with these problems. Canaries is the only village in St. Lucia to have the distinction of having two Catholic church’s. When the new Catholic Church was built the old church was used as a paint factory, a Disney memorabilia factory and also a movie theatre. For the last ten years the church has been boarded up without being used providing no benefit the community or the Church. Recently it has been opened again through the efforts of the local church, Father Goodman and the St. Lucia Archdiocese and Canaries Community Club. It is now used in a limited way for meetings and other small activities. The buildings current uses are very limited because it cannot be secured and is need of renovation. It is the desire of Canaries Community Club and the Canaries Parish Council and Father Goodman to use the building again in an effective way to help the village particularly in income generating activities to alleviate unemployment and poverty.

These partnerships to develop the building have come together through the hard work of the Canaries Community Club, The Parish Council, and Father Goodman.

The property would remain the property of the Catholic Church with the following agreements reached. Cannabelle Soap or another community project would have sole use of the second floor for 10 years in order to establish that cottage industry and build up capitol. Community Club or in case of its dispersion the next community development group will be able to use the building free of charge for meetings and large activities for the next 7 years.

2. Project Objectives
The old church is an incredibly large building providing a regulation gym size amount of usable space that also includes an upper floor. The renovation plan would allow the building to be used for multiple uses maximizing its return to Canaries.

2.1 Objective 1 Craft and Gift Market
The first objective of the building is to provide income and employment for Canaries and to expand on the growing tourism industry from Canaries Creole Pot and the waterfall tours. After the church is secured it will be utilized as a large Craft and Gift market during the day. This would be managed by the Canaries Community Club and the forming Canaries Foundation. That revenue would in turn be used to fund other development projects in Canaries. A monthly rental fee would be paid to the Catholic Church for the daytime Crafts and Gift Market to support the parish specifically in youth group activities and costs for maintaining the parish. The tourist market exists and will be taken advantage of thought the following ways. Sea traffic of passing Catamarans and boats will be advertised to using the large rood of the old church which can be seen clearly and easily from sea. It will be used as large billboard to advertise the Canaries Craft and Gift market through the painting of large white letters stating this on the roof. The heavy tourist traffic heading North and South to Castries and Soufriere will be captured through two large signs facing each direction advertising the market. It is important to note that no other large craft market or venue exits in large secure building except in Castries. Tour operators and tourists will be more comfortable with Canaries Gift and Craft Markey in the beautiful histories church building and it will also allow them the opportunities to explore the rest of the village. The Craft Market would also be open specifically on Creole Pot Street Party Nights to provide tourists and visitors the venue to purchase crafts and goods. With the large amount of space available 6-7 wheeled booths and displays would be maintained selling craft items and gifts such as.
• Cannabelle soap products (possible exhibit on the soap making process/demonstration)
• Canaries local carvings and other island carvers
• Paintings and art
• St. Lucia produced crafts
• Spices and Gifts bags
• Brewery and Distillery products and memorabilia
• Canaries and island t-shirts, bags, and jewelry
• Local choice fruits and produce
• Sale of local made Pastries, Springs Bread and Spiced Rum
• Cold non-alcoholic refreshments and ice cream

Work has already been done with Choiseul one of the islands main craft and art production centers in pricing and securing most of local made products and crafts produced outside of Canaries. When there are events in the evening requiring the building the carts and displays would be wheeled to the back of the building and secured behind a 10ft security fence and security gate to maintain maximum functionality.

2.2 Objective 2 Facilities for Cannabelle Soap
Providing a permanent facility for Cannabelle Soap so they can expand and receive national licensing is the next objective. Cannabelle soap is local Co-op that produces natural soap products made from cinnamon, aloe, oatmeal just to give a few examples. Cannabelles product is already featured in almost every craft and gift shop on the island. Its production is limited because of their lack of a facility. In order to receive national licensing they must have their own facilities. Cannabelle has long been looking for a facility and has tried to purchase land but with the limited amount of land and space available in Canaries that has not proved feasible in economical way. With the restoration and renovations Cannabelle would have full use of the upstairs level for 10 years in order to expand this cottage industry. In the event that Cannabelle disperses the area would be used for another cottage industry or for specific training in areas for IT related classes and skills.

2.3 Objective 3 Community Use Area
The third objective is to provide a community area for village meetings, large community activities, trainings, workshops, presentations, and receptions. The old church would fulfill this need perfectly.

2.4 Objective 4 Venue for Night Activities
With the multi use design capabilities of the church it can provide a venue for weekly activities for all residents including youth, and older citizens through income generating activities like:
Movie Nights
Bingo Night
Senior Citizen Exercise Class
Dance Classes
The events would be run by a community group or individual with rental income going to the church.

2.5 Objective 5 Expansion of the Tourism Market for Canaries
Currently Canaries receives most of its tourists through the Creole Pot Street Party, the Waterfall Tours and visiting family members. A tourist attraction needs to be developed to attract visitors and provide them a venue and starting point to explore the village.

The market would fit well with the biweekly street party providing a venue in the evening for Crafts and Gifts to be sold. It would provide a stopping point for the Canaries Waterfall Tours and Guest house visitors. It would be a venue for Cannabelle Soap to be able to demonstrate how the soap products are made and a selling and distribution point. It would also attract some of the heavy traffic of tourists traveling North and South to Castries and Soufriere.

3. Project Budget

The following budget has been written below by Erickson Jules an Architect and Building Contractor who serves on the Board of the Canaries Village Council and Community Club. Community Club will provide $1784EC of the proposed budget with the Navy providing the additional funding of $400US which equals $1072EC. That would cover the cost of the entire budget.



1.0 Allow for making good to existing matchboards doors and windows. Sum 1.0 650.00 650.00 650.00

2.0 Supply and fix single leaf metal panel door 3'-0" x 6'-8" high nr 2.0 350.00 700.00 700.00

Ironmongerv - fix onlv the following ironmongerv with screws to doors and windows

3.0 Allow for Supplying of 8" heavy duty stainless steel barrel bolt with 12mm diameter bolt to framed ledged and braced doors and windows nr 18.0 22.00 396.00 396.00

4.0 Allow for Supplying of heavy duty hinge to framed ledged and braced doors nr 24.0 40.00 960.00 960.00

5.0 Allow for supplying locks to framed ledged and braced doors nr 2.0 75.00 150.00 150.00

CARPENTRY & JOINERY TO SUMMARY $2,856.00 $2,856.00

It was mentioned that the Navy may be able to gather other materials for the project if given enough notice. If possible 3-10 gallons of paint in a neutral color and 2-3 wide paint brushes would be wonderful or if that is not possible then some plywood and 5-6 2x4 or 2x2 pieces of wood for additional reinforcements at whatever length is available.

4. Project Work Plan

Work Plan
Task List Time Frame (hrs) # Volunteers
Moving the Cannabelle storage shed 1.00 4
Installing the Cannabelle storage shed 1.50
Repairing the first floor stairwell landing 2.00 2
Repairing and reinforcing 8 windows wooden shutters 3.00 3
Repairing and reinforcing 4 main wooden double sided doors 2.00 4
Repairing and reinforcing 2 side doors 1.00 2
Installing lock bolts on all windows 2.00 4
Installing hinges and locks on 4 main doors and 2 side doors 2.00 4
Deep cleaning of church 2.00 6
Totals 16.50 29.00
We will have the option of painting for other volunteers in case of a larger turnout.
All Estimates Completed by Erickson Jules a Licensed Architect and Building Contractor

5. Project Monitoring and Work Plan
When giving funds for development work the question of accountability and implementation must always be addressed.

The Canaries Community Club has a track record of managing financial resources. Examples includes the Poverty Reduction Funding Grant that required reporting balance sheets to this funding agency other progress reports. Canaries Community Club has also managed the proposal and funding for the Cricket World Cup activities through a Local Action Team that consisted of Community Clubs and other community groups under the body of intuitional strengthening. Canaries received over $36,000 to this effort. This funding allotment was higher then both the Anse Le Raye budget of $17,000 and the Soufriere allocation of $27,000. The $36,000 fell well short of the proposal $65,000 dollar budget but through good management and participation of members all activities were successfully completed greatly assisting the community leaving many legacy activities behind. These activities included a Riverside Launching, Canaries Seafest, Cricketorama, and the Talent Show for the community. It is also important to note that the Chairman of Community Club is Edsel Edmund who is head accountant for First Caribbean Bank. With all of this cumulative experience, expertise and community participation the accounting will be accurate and the implementation of this project will be successful and well planned.

A final project report will be submitted after the work day.

5. Conclusion
Canaries is developing this critical economic and social activity center to stimulate the community. Please support the rehabilitation of Canaries village. This will provide the leverage needed to promote Canaries on the mental and social map of Saint Lucia to continue to improve the life of its residents.

We thank you for considering our proposal and look forward to working with you to develop OUR beautiful village together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Carnival Season Has Arrived!

Me and Marcy headed to Soufriere for their Carnival, it was more of a warm up for the big one in Castries and Viewfort.

The Carnival party train went around the village of Souf, they had themed groups, the best one to be on is the Bounty or Distillery because you receive free beverages and shirts.

Here is a picture of the "School Party" group where a bunch of uys dressed in school girls uniforms. Some were even pregnant which is unfortunatily not to far from the truth.

I like this shot which demonstrates the St. Lucia entrepenurial spirit is alive and strong, this guy is following the Carnival Train with a cooler full of beers in a wheelbarrow. I like it.

It was good time, looking forward to the big ones.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Internet Speed Doubled, US is falling behind.

Cable and Wireless just doubled our speed here in St. Lucia, were now crusing from a slow 512 download to 1323 kbps and now my upload speed is 376. This is better that what I had in DC with Comcast. Life is good, did anyone say Counterstrike?

The sad part is I am crusing the internet faster in a developing country and paying much, much less then US citizens. How is that possible???? (bad policy and cable company greed) and guess what, its getting worse.

"The OECD ranks the U.S. 12th in the world in adoption rates--down from 4th in 2001. A study by the British firm Point Topic showed the U.S. at 19th in individual access and 20th in household access."

Here is the full article. http://www.speedmatters.org/blog/page.jsp?itemID=28296818

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Taste of Community Development Work

Group shot of the Canaries Community Club-minus me and Agatha.

I am going to try to give people a taste of a day working in Community Development in St. Lucia as a PCV through pictures and a few short videos with the Canaries Community Club.

First, of course their is no such thing as a typical Peace Corps work day. In fact, yesterday I along with 5 other volunteers attended a planning meeting for a childrens art camp. We asked to volunteer and assist. At the meeting we were told that we were in charge and we had to design the entire program for 70 children from age 5-12 for 5 days. Did I mention that I am scared to death of children, its a good thing they don't know.

So anyway to typical day as a PCV in the Eastarn Caribbean.

Another one of the groups I am involved with is the Canaries Community Club. The groups main goal is take Canaries to the next level socially, economically.

Currently were in a phase of looking at projects that can possibily bring in long term revenue streams for Canaries and the organizations so other projects could be funded. We had a site assesment Friday visiting Anse La Liberte. (an area wear escaped slaves formed freedom fighter bands)

This was an area of land that was given as a trust to a foundation in St. Lucian. The purpose is to help preserve the land, culture and enviroment. A huge amount of money was put into this area to turn it into a camping area on the westcoast. It is a gorgious area with a perfect view of the Carribbean ocean. You have 7 campsite to choose from that are on raised platforms and also come with grills. Their is a bathroom and shower facility and large patio, picnic area for receptions or large events.

They also have a reception area that can be used as camp store/ranger station.

You have a private beach to go to that is long beutiful and private. A tremendious amount of capitol was put into this project including solar powered lites, water tanks, you name it. Any yet currently it earns $0 in revenue for Canaires or its neighboring villages. Why, it is a few things, the biggest blame goes to marketing according to everyone. Personally I strugglee with the whole concept, I am not sure their is even a market for it.

The area is certainly natural and peaceful but I am sorry, no one that lives in Europe or the USA is going to want to pay 600-$700 for a plane ticket to go camping. Not to mention you have to haul camping equipment, plus someone could easily come out of the bush with a Machete while your sleeping on the camping flatform to chop and rob you. If you want to camp, you go parks in your own country. The whole concept of camping carries a degree of risk.

So far the potential I see is to turn the camping platforms into simple cottages with locks. Cheap housing for a week in the Carribbean, now their could be a market for that. They would need to have a ranger on duty doing patrols and a small grocery store. Its still difficult for me to grasp a solid working business plan for it but with time I am hopeful.

The group was to meet at 4 pm by the main road. I arrived and waited with a few other members for 45 minutes. One of the main members had just arrived and was changing and we were still waiting for people. I went home watered my plants and fed the bunnies and came back. Still waiting, it was 5:30 by now. I left again to walk the village, got caught in short shower and came back now it was 6pm, this typical Caribbean timing. Our village Chairman pulled up in his old truck and we all piled in the back.

Edsel the Community Club president broke out two bottles of rum some juice and sprite, soon the long wait was forgiven as we were laughing trying to make a mixed drink in the back of a pickup going uphill on a rock dirt road.

We arrived in good spirits.

My first impression was the welcome sign could use some paint but it still looked very nice and I was impressed by the visitor center.

We next went to the Patio area. The building is in great condition, needing only minor repairs to the roof shingles. It is nice spot to have a reception and to view the ocean.

A quick mention about Kweyol after the video. The people speak a mixture of English and Kweyol, it meetings English is dominent. Thats one the critical reasons I feel that I have been able to be very effective here, if their had been a language barrier I really cannot say how effective I would be.

We then went to check out the bathroom facilities, the lights and water are all still working great.

As you can see the shower is working.

A shot of Jackie

And Pamela making sure the toilet works correctly.

We next visited one of the campsites, notice the raised platform to keep you off the ground away from the elements.

Short Video of the group at the campsite.

Here is shot of cooking area by each campsite.

We also visited the beach areas, here is video shot of the beach before you walk down. Thats Erickson our Architect and Pamela again who is the groups Public Relations Officer.

Were looking for funding from the Bannana Cooperative who has received funding from the EU for Community Projects. The deadline is not to far away so we need to move quickly to apply for this money. I may also have Cannabelle Soap apply for it also.