St Lucia needs volunteers – a paradox?

By Sallie Grayson. Filed in project news  |  
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Paradox – a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities (OED)

I did a quick straw poll the other day – I asked 10 people to give me the first thing that came into their mind after I had said Saint Lucia  – everyone said holiday and Carribean, most mentioned The Pitons, other mentions were – beach/sand and sea, honeymoon, luxury and bizarrely one person said divorce but I guess that’s a whole other story!

Not one person mentioned poverty – no surprise. For the vast majority of us, St Lucia is simply another island holiday option.

Here are some of those contradictions that make up the paradox

St Lucia is a beautiful island – jungle and beaches – the people are incredibly friendly and tolerant – the scenery is staggering – some of the most luxurious hotels can be found here.

Saint Lucia is on the world bank at risk list – high up on that list – in the top 20%

Saint Lucia has very high youth unemployment – close to or over 50% depending on which study you read.

Over 40% of the population lives in economic poverty – with annual income of less than $1900.

So yes Saint Lucia needs volunteers – but the above statisics are reflected in other Caribbean countries – why did we choose to start our first Caribbean volunteer programme in Saint Lucia?

Simple  – our local partner – Sylvester Cauzels at Scribal was one of Harold’s (our non-exec chair) first Masters Students in responsible tourism. Sylvester has decades of experience working in community and responsible tourism in Saint Lucia. He is well respected in Saint Lucia and he is totally committed to the welfare of the communities with which he works. His colleague Zaneia Tappin will manage the volunteer programme and works closely with Kate.

Sylvester and Zaneia

During my trip in May, Sylevester, Zaneia and I confirmed that we would be working with disadvantaged youth and in special needs education. We will also be working with The National Trust of Saint Lucia, an organisation with a legal mandate to conserve both the natural and cultural heritage of Saint Lucia.

Our volunteer programme is well supported in Saint Lucia –  the commitment and enthusiasm during our meetings with The Honourable Allen Chastenet,

Allen Chastenet and Sallie

Minister of Tourism and The Honorable Arsene Vigil James, Minister of Education were very encouraging.

Honourable Minister Arsene James

A big thankyou to them.

Thanks also to Angelina Augustin the Special Education Officer, the SLU Hotel and Tourism Association and Lyton Lamontagne for all their support.

And a final word of thanks for and an introduction to the project leaders with whom we will be working –

Doctor Karlene Mason at The Centre for Adolescent Renewal and Education

Dr. Karleen Mason CARE

Linda Preville, Principal, Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre

Linda Preville

Mr. Bishnu Tulsie, Director, Saint Lucia National Trust

Bishnu Tulsie

read more about the volunteer programme in Saint Lucia

Working with disadvantaged youth

Heritage and Environment Preservation and Conservation

Special needs expert? Watch the blog for news of the school we will be working with – we will be posting the project in the next few days.

3 Comments

  1. Comment by Mary E. Hanrahan:

    I have been a principal of a special needs school for 34 years and I have taught in eight countries. I have taught primary, secondary and university students. I believe in adapting the curriculum to the student needs. I have done volunteering in Nepal, Vietnam, China and South Africa. I like a challenge and I try my best to engage students in their own education. I would prefer a placement of 2-4 months rather than that of longer duration.

  2. Comment by Sallie:

    thanks for this Mary – I have passed your comment on to Kate our programme director ( I suspect you know her!) Best Sallie

  3. Comment by Angelina Augustin:

    Hi Mary
    You seem very motivated. We can benefit from your experience in Saint Lucia. I have worked with Chris who has done volunteering with me Your experience to I wish you all the best in your efforts. Angelina

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