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.
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,
Minister of Tourism and The Honorable Arsene Vigil James, Minister of Education were very encouraging.
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
Linda Preville, Principal, Lady Gordon Opportunity Centre
Mr. Bishnu Tulsie, Director, Saint Lucia National Trust
read more about the volunteer programme in Saint Lucia