Thursday, August 16, 2007

Update on my work in the form of a letter to the Canaries UK Association

Greetings to Simon, Greenage and Members of the UK Association,

I am returning the funding for the rabbit project with a heavy heart. After unsuccessfully being able to breed rabbits for the past 6-7 months and a long talk with Spring who has a larger rabbit operation it has become apparent to me that raising rabbits is not as easy of an option as I was led to believe. Spring told me frankly that he was losing money on the rabbit operation and that it was not a good business to be in. On paper and in theory it seemed to be the perfect business but in the practical application it does not seem to work. Spring theorizes that in the village rabbits get frightened to often disturbing their breeding cycles resulting in the mothers killing their own young.

I greatly appreciate the UK association show of faith in me and the project. I think it takes a stronger person to end something and admit that it is not working then to waste precious resources when they could be used in other beneficial ways.

On the positive side I would like to encourage the members to watch some video clips shot of local members for some of the community awards interviews, especially Kidney “Kikid” Leonty who is now 90 years old. We have perhaps his last interview and another clip of him singing. We also have other videos featured; this can all be watched at this website. http://www.youtube.com/user/bigolcountry Scroll down towards the bottom and click on more videos to see them all. I would like the members to think about possibly setting up a Canaries website or blog where we can feature interviews of the community members and UK members and maybe a news section. My only concern is who will maintain it when I leave in a year.

Of course please see my blog where I am keeping an update in pictures and videos of work, projects and life in Canaries. http://bigcountryleo.blogspot.com/

Project wise I am excited, Creole Pot is really starting to become established, with the additional sponsorship of the Brewery are basic costs of running the street party are nearly covered. The reputation of the street party and of Canaries is really taking off, I am trying to post a video that was done by Ministry of Agriculture to my blog and the youtube video website. It is quite amazing and you will all be very, very proud. I have finished updating the Creole Pot brochure for this year and we have added the UK Association as one of our sponsors.

The two main projects I am now involved in are the Old Church Project and Canabelle. The proposal for the old church in nearly complete and the scope of the project is AMAZING in the ways that it will help the community. I look forward to providing a finished copy. We would like the Canaries UK Association to partner up with it. The main intention of the project is to provide and income producing project as Simon encouraged up to pursue. Simon and Greenage informed us that UK Association is really focusing on helping projects where the Sterling donated can be seen in measurable results like employment, infrastructure improvements and promotion of Canaries. I know this is project you will be able to get behind in a solid way knowing that great benefits will come. So keep your eyes peeled, it will be coming. A final not on that, the Basic Needs Trust Fund is keenly interesting in funding it along with Mr. Isadore of the Housing Ministry who sees this falling under a urban renewal program along with the Catholic Archdiocese who is currently pledging $20,000 US towards the project according to Father Goodman.

I would also ask for your continued support of Creole Pot which in my opinion is where a lot of this serious community development momentum has originated. We are still in negotiation with the Distillery and the Brewery for the tents for the venue. We should speak more on Creole Pot to see the next direction for us including a possible Canaries weekend as Simon mentioned at one point.

Nest weekend we will be moving the Canabelle into the Old Church so that they have permanent building so we can pursue licensing for them through the Bureau of Standards.

I was able to submit a competitive proposal to have the US Navy come in and provide a work day along with $400 US; Canaries Community Club is matching that with $500. If the Hurricane does not take us out we will be using that money to repair the doors and windows to secure the building. Community Club has already installed basic lighting and electrical in the building.

With Canabelle my main goal is to finish writing a development plan for them, make adjustments to the business side by having a third party accountant in Castries as we will be pursuing international funding. Safety equipment purchases to protect the ladies from the caustic soda and lie and training to improve the formulas since the current soap only lasts on average 3 days. When this is accomplished my next goal would be to develop a smaller bar of soap designed for the hotels. We will begin working with the St. Lucia Hotel Association on that once the infrastructure and administrative changes have taken place God willing.

Again thank you for you support as we work on OUR beautiful village together,

Yours in community work,

Lee “Leo” Klejnot

1 comment:

Soufriere Michelle said...

Leo,

Just met your aunt via a phone conversation...she told me of your work. I just returned from SL, spent much of August in Soufriere, was there for the hurricane. I said, "hurricane, schmuricane" It seems the storm in Chicaago was worse. We are working with the Rotary club to open 6 libraries on the island, one in Canaries. We also have other charity projects under way, including a computer center in Soufriere.

Please contact me, I would like you to work with us! We currently rent a long term apartment in Soufriere, above Sophias salon, you know the place! It's great, we love it there. Just close enough from town, and just far enough as well...

We are in the process of buying property, am trying to load the latest pics now. You can see pics of our many visits to SL at www.directeffect.smugmug.com We visit often, as you will see.

We intimately know the pain and the joy of the island. I commend you for your work there. I have met Megan and Megan....I know one has left, one leaving soon. She must be very sad!

Anyway, we will be there Christmas, from about the 21st til about 1-4, hopefully we can meet if you are on island at any time during. Please do contact me. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

Warm Regards,

Michelle DiGiacomo
Executive Director
Direct Effect Charities
directeffect@ameritech.net email
312.296.5311