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.

No comments: