Wednesday, April 30, 2008

UK Cell Number

Hello All,

I will be in the UK with Marcy until May 27th and then I will return to Saint Lucia. My close of service date for Peace Corps is August 15th, we will be sticking around for maybe a week or so after that.

Here is my UK cell number you can reach me at 011-44-795-696-8565, remember we are 5 hours ahead of the US and Saint Lucia.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rabbit Hutch Frame Complete

Hello Everyone,

The Rabbit Project is moving along nicely. We were able to gather the hutch frame materials through donations from village leaders. I was able to provide the quarter inch wire for the bottom of the cage and the chicken wire for the sides from donations from friends and family back in the states. I am really impressed with Ison, we are basing the design of Isons hutch of off Sebastian, he was able to build the exact same frame from memory without using measurements or a drawing. Ison also used all of the wood material with only one piece of 3ft 2x2 treated wood left over. He certainly has talent and skill, the frame is constructed from 15 12ft 2x2 treated wood pieces and 2 2x2 treated 15ft wood pieces.

Me and Ison talking about the Project:

Ison talking about his hopes for the Rabbits:

Pictures of the frame:

Isons home with his mother, brothers and sisters:

All that is left to construct the cage is installing the wire, sheet metal roof, legs for the hutch from local wood, and latches and hinges for the doors. I will be back in Saint Lucia on the 27th and will provide updates on the final construction then.

I would like to thank the following people from the village for their donation of time and money.

Press Scott
Mr Jon Baptiste
Agatha and Gary

and not to forget
and anyone else I forgot to mention.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chef Orlando on Poverty in Saint Lucia

I was visiting with Chef Orlando one of the best chefs in the Caribbean and he gave me his take on poverty in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Canabelle Soap Co-op Featured in the Star News Paper!

Canabelle Received a big write up in the Star thanks to Kayra Williams who braved public transport from Castries all the way to Soufriere and then to Canaries to interview the Co-op. Here is the link to the full article below.

Below is the basic text of the Article:

The Canabelle Women of Canaries

By Kayra Williams

A trip to Canaries is incomplete without visiting Spring’s Bread to take home the tastiest bread on the island or dropping by Plas Kassav to find scrumptious flavoured cassava or even lend a hand in the cassava making process. For most, the knowledge of the village is limited to its roadside scenery. Most of the premier attractions of Canaries are on the outskirts. The rest of Canaries is by-passed by most en route to Soufriere or other locations.

A new industry might just give people a reason to make Canaries their number one spot and at the same time, boost the community’s tourism product. Canabelle Cooperative Society Ltd is taking the best of St Lucia and putting it into their handmade soap products. The new company boasts all natural and handmade soaps made with 100 percent soya oil, coconut olive oil, sunflower oil, natural local herbs and vitamin E.

The soap making initiative started seven years ago with a now non-existent organization—SL Rep, St Lucia Rural Enterprises Project—and originally began with 20 women from Canaries. The project’s intention was to reduce the unemployment rate in Canaries, presently one of the highest on the island.

Gregory Deterville president of the Canabelle Cooperative told the STAR some of the women from the project had "fallen by the wayside." The numbers had dwindled from 20 to 10 only a year ago. Now only six ladies remained. The women told the STAR others left because nothing was happening. They did their work voluntary and knew they wouldn’t get paid until the company began flourishing.

Despite that, they persevered primarily because they wanted to see change in Canaries. "We don’t want Cannabelle to go down," said one worker. "We’re here voluntarily, we all have families. We’re here sacrificing our time coming here to help form a product that may one day help generate income in Canaries."

The first home of Canabelle, the Canaries Community Center was deemed inadequate because workers couldn’t stay there for long periods of time and would frequently be kicked out when meetings needed to be held. Today, Canabelle’s producing takes places at the Old Church in Canaries which was badly in need of repair.

But it was clear that a lot of work had been done; the structure was a far cry from the dilapidated building they’d initially used. They’d cleaned up and even replaced the massive doors that had once been dryrot. It wasn’t much but they didn’t have to pay to use the building. Leo Klejnot, a US Peace Corps volunteer from Indiana on a two-year assignment to help develop Canaries, was working with Canabelle to raise funds and market the product.

He spoke highly of the ladies who were the heart and soul of the product. "This is how all good things start; you have to have faith, vision and it takes courage," he said. "That’s what these ladies have. They’ve been doing this for seven years; it’s about time things started falling in place. I really hope the government starts backing this project.

There is a need for more manufacturing in St Lucia." One hotel in the south had already stepped up not only to sponsor Canabelle, but also to distribute their soap to hotel guests. Ladera Resort was present at Canabelle’s launch on Thursday.

"We’re going to create a product that will be tailor made for them," said Klejnot. "A smaller soap that can be given to tourists in the hotel." Plans are already in the pipelines to start marketing the Canabelle product to other hotels. Canabelle’s president hoped the venture would bring tourists into the community to visit Canabelle, see the soap making process and of course, purchase their product.

"We’re hoping to receive some more assistance to enhance our product and that our production and soap will make some headway not only in St Lucia but abroad." said Deterville. Both Klejnot and Deterville spoke of plans to renovate the building and later, transform part of it into a craft market. "If tourists are going to come in to see the soap making process, we might as well have other items being sold; local craft. This is a good project and if it takes off, this will assist with the unemployment crisis in Canaries," said Klejnot.

The ladies––Cyrilia Alfred, Margaret Sydney, Gertrude Monrose, Theresa Prospere, Helen Charles and Aisha St John––were an effective marketing team for Canabelle Soap. They all used the soap and said the natural oils kept their skin young. After seeing the glow on their exuberant faces, it was impossible to doubt the product’s effectiveness. They guaranteed that anyone who used it would see a difference in their skin and said even babies could use their mild soap.

Canabelle’s Aloe Vera/ Cucumber soap could be used to reduce the appearance of fine lines around the eyes and on the face. Sulphur, to treat and prevent liver spots and rash; Oatmeal to keep skin smooth and healthy and Glory Cedar to improve skin appearance while treating eczema, rash and also insect bites. Their Aloe and oat soap was clinically proven to treat acne, eczema, insect bites and keep skin smooth. Plain aloe soap was also available. Their Sulphur and Aloe Vera soap was best for insect bites, acne, rash, dry skin, burnsand was also a great moisturizer. Other varieties included Hibiscus, tea tree/mint, cinnamon and nutmeg.

All printing and packaging was done at Canabelle. Single soaps cost $6 and their twin pack gift packs cost $12. Bulk prices were also available. Outlets for Canabelle soap include, M& C Drug Store, Pharmacy 2000, Clarke’s drug store, Island pharmacy, People Discount Drugs and Alexis Drugs Store.
Caption:Canaries has a high rate of unemployment and these women are trying to change that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Official Wedding Invitation

We did it in a Postcard Format, below is the front side and the second image is the backside. It was created in Photoshop and Publisher. We will be emailing it to anyone who have email to save on printing costs. The folks still using the coconut telegraph will get one mailed to them. Click on the image to enlarge, you can also take the image and save it if you need to print it.

See everyone soon!

Canabelle Soap is Growing

A short Video from my Director Sharmon Jules talking about Canabelle Soap Co-op.

Canabelle continues to grow exceeding all my expectations.

Video of the ladies assembling the boxes.

My Peace Corps Island Director Sharmon Jules came for a site visit today. She seemed truly impressed at the work we have accomplished with Canabelle Soap.

The Co-op is fully producing soap and is actually building up an inventory, a first for the Co-op.

Here is a shot showing them using natural herbs collected from the Canaries rain forest to produce the soap.

The raw herbs:

Deterville working away in the office:

A small display for visitors:

They have been taking my suggestion with packaging and production improving the presentation and variety. Here is a sample of a new double pack that is truly lovely, we are continuing to work on a smaller soap for the hotels a key step in the development plan we have written.

Here is a picture of a new soap mold that should improve the size and shape of the soaps making them more consistent.

Thursday is an exciting day with one of Conde' Nast Top Caribbean Hotels Ladera. They are coming for a site visit to Canabelle. I was able to speak to the owner of Ladera Mr. Hooper and he was interested in funding a few projects in Canaries. (thanks Aunt Tina) A community funding committee is coming down to see the operation first hand, they will be considering funding for us to help with infrastructure purchases and training.

We also hope that they can become our first major hotel customer, if we can supply soap for Ladera's guests we will be providing full time employment for 6 people and part time employment for four other women.

They will also hopefully be providing some funding to Creole Pot so we can purchase tables and chairs. We are also seeking help from Cable and Wireless the local phone and internet company, were asking them to sponsor our internet and phone line costs for one year.

If all these things fall into place Canabelle will be set to become a major employment generating area for a village that suffers the highest unemployment rate in Saint Lucia.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Landscape Designers Visual Resume

Hello All,

Please take a look at my Aunt Tina's new blog at

This will become a new trend especially in fields where your work can be captured in before after stages that you find in any career that involves design.

This is an incredibly useful tool for job seekers and companies alike, a way to really see the personality of the person through their writing and recording. It also documents their work and it is for the entire world to see.

I gave Tina a crash course on working with HTML and she is now producing a beautiful visual resume that will always be there. Thank you Google people. Enjoy it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wedding and Life Update

Wedding planning can take the joy out of the wedding especially when you are a broke Peace Corps volunteer.

The wedding is going to be amazing, it has just been challenging to figure out all the way to work with a limited budget for this special occasion. I have just finished the wedding invitation, Marcy is looking it over today for final approval before we begin sending it out.

I am truly thankful for all the friends that I have coming down who are taking time away from their lives to share this special moment with me and Marcy. You really learn who your friends are when it costs them $700US each for their plane tickets just to get here. For me it was never a question in my mind as to whether they would come, my friends are the best people in the world.

Were are still going to have the wedding ceremony on the white sand beach everyone voted for, will be having the reception at Moon River at the Edwards place. It is a beautiful entertainment and banquet hall set on the side of the Canaries River before you begin you enter the rain forest.

VISA, VISA, VISA, that is our next challenge for me and Marcy. We have the choice of going to England or the US but we have a few rough spots. The VISA costs $1050US for England, that is not the most difficult part, Marcy has to show savings and employment for an amount of time to prove that she can support me in case I do not get a job. This is the governments view, the other most annoying part is the government will not provide the magic number for how much savings she must show or how many months employment. The US is not so bad, you apply and it takes a few months to be approved, it still costs over $800 with all costs. So Marcy is currently in England now hunting for a job so she can save up for the wedding for a few months. She will be returning in August for the wedding and then we head to England or the US depending on what we decide and what job opportunities become available. I leave this month on April 23nd and will be staying in England until May 27th to see how I like England since it is one of our options. Were blessed to have the option of going to two incredible nations.

Will be fine, its just busy.