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VOLUNTEERS IMPACT HUNDREDS IN ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNERSHIP WITH HAITI INSTITUTIONS
FAVA/CA volunteers recently provided technical assistance and training in the important area of environmental education to three Haitian organizations and institutions. The missions directly targeted environmental degradation which is a major factor in forced migration.
In January cultural anthropologist Paul Monaghan of the University of Florida traveled to Haiti to provide technical assistance for a continuing education program on environmental issues for Universite Quisqueya's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Universite Professor Gladys Archange hosted the consultation that included evaluation of the current curriculum and proposal writing.
"Universite Quisqueya was very pleased by the quick response of FAVA/CA regarding a request for a mission on environmental education," said Archange. "Mr. Monaghan was very helpful. We did some field work and also started working on a proposal for the Center for Environmental Studies. Paul was also valuable in identifying some contacts that might be interested in funding or working together with us on the project."
According to Monaghan, the mission's purpose was to lay the groundwork for a pilot program utilizing the Macaya National Park in Haiti for environmental education.
"The park is the last rain forest in Haiti, and it's underused," Monaghan said. "A lot of Haitians don't even know about it, but there are 5,000 hectares of land with probably the highest biodiversity in the whole Caribbean."
Another mission took place in late February and provided training for educational projects to protect the environment and promote reforestation in the rural areas of the northwest section of Haiti.
Haitian environmental organizations ONELA (Oganizasyon Neg L'akay) and PRODHAM (Project Development Haut?Moustiques) hosted the training, which was conducted by Philip Busey, associate professor of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida-Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, and veteran Corps volunteer Willio Francillon, agronomist for the Florida Department of Agriculture. The training, which took place February 22?28, it is hoped, will contribute to improved welfare and economic conditions for the people of the region.
"I had never been to Haiti before," Busey said, "and so it was a chance for me to assess their needs as well as to offer any assistance. I listened a lot. I also brought 20 pounds of Bahia grass seeds. This is just one example of possible forage that might be suitable for goats. The grass is also useful for soil conservation.
"The folks there were environmentally conscious. And they're so well organized. It was an easy place to work because the farmers know what the problems are. They need help with procuring tools and seeds. We made lists of things that might help them economically and help the environment." The team met with six groups of farmers, consisting of between 20 to 120 individuals, including women and children.
"It was very exciting to see younger people there to hear us talk about grasses and goats," Busey stated. "Haiti is an absolutely beautiful place, and the people are wonderful. Three of our party were from different communities in the area. I believe it's very important to involve Haitian-Americans who walk in both worlds."
PAN AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION FORGES LINK WITH FAVA/CA IN HAITI
The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), a valued partner since the early '80s, has contracted with FAVA/CA for a range of Florida International Volunteer Corps consultants to enhance PADF's "Hurricane Georges Reconstruction Program". This USAID-Haiti-funded training initiative for Haiti's emergency managers will enhance that nation's preparedness for the coming hurricane season. Corps volunteers will be drawn from Florida's emergency management system, among the best in the nation. The partnership will benefit the state directly in terms of professional relationships, advance weather information and an impact on the refugee situation in the aftermath of natural disasters.
NICARAGUA YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AGENCY PAIRS WITH FLORIDA PARTNER
Nicaraguan youth need preparation in business and employment skills. FAVA/CA consultant Gabriel Parra recently assisted one not-for-profit organization which endeavors to provide this training, especially for low-income youth, set organizational targets, develop marketing strategies and strengthen board involvement.
Carmen Hilleprandt, director of Emprendedores Juveniles of Nicaragua, invited Parra to assist in her strengthening of the group's board of directors to increase the program's effectiveness and fund raising. Parra, executive director of the New Directions Employment and Training Service, Miami, consulted with Hilleprandt and members of the board March 19?25.
"The organization has been around for about seven years. In that time the country has gone through a lot of changes. During my visit, we identified goals for Emprendedores and we embarked on a marketing plan to publicize the group's work and identify sources of funding," Parra said.
Parra added that the group's board of directors is fortunate to have entrepreneurs and university members who are dedicated to the projects of the group.
"Some Nicaraguan young people grow up in homes with a family business. Emprendedores offers them training in how to successfully run a business, how to distribute revenues, and how to market and sell products."
For those youth who have other career goals, Parra explained that his organization will help Emprendedores enhance career development.
"It was a learning experience for me. It was also good for the Nicaraguan not-for-profit organization to work with a not-for-profit from the United States to see how we do things. It was beneficial for both of us, and the trip was quite a success," he concluded. "We have established a long-term relationship."
Miami-based New Directions focuses on employment for developmentally disabled individuals. Parra's innovative approach to organizational development imposes an aggressive and outcome-oriented, businesslike approach to non-profits.
TOBAGO SOAPMAKING INCORPORATES HONEY, BEESWAX, POLLEN
To help Tobagonian beekeepers generate additional income, Debra Graybeal, owner of Indian River Creations Handcrafted Soap Company in Melbourne, Florida, offered three days of training in February. Gladstone Solomon, of the Tobago Apicultural Society sponsored the training for 19 beekeepers.
"They wanted to be able to make some products with honey, beeswax and pollen and to have an extra resource for making money," Graybeal said. "In addition to the training, I visited some shops, and found that there would be a lot of shops willing to buy their products which could then be sold to tourists.""I think it went really well," first-time Volunteer Corps consultant Graybeal said. "Everyone listened and learned. I gave them the opportunity one day for everyone to make their own batch of soap. I was amazed that everyone wanted to make their own batch and by the ingredients they brought in. We had a really good time. I was able to explain why they were good or bad batches and show the differences in additives."
Graybeal has kept in touch with the workshop participants and recently located a good resource for products to facilitate the beekeepers in their new business venture.
FAVA/CA FOSTERS MASTERS IN PUBLIC HEALTH IN BELIZE
Eighteen students in Belize began their first courses this spring in a Master of Public Health program offered jointly between the University College of Belize and the University of South Florida (USF), in Tampa. The program is the result of years of planning between the two universities and the Ministry of Health of Belize, made possible through the Florida International Volunteer Corps.
In December of 1999, veteran Corps consultants Dr. Bruce Gould, research associate professor at the College of Public Health, USF; Dr. Wayne Westhoff, assistant professor in Community and Family Health at USF; and consultant Geraldo Flowers of Florida State University traveled to Belize to finalize arrangements for the program.
The students include physicians, nurses, nurse-midwives, and nutritionists who are seeking to broaden their knowledge of public health issues in order to better serve the population of their country. This semester students participated in lectures in two core courses, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, on video, and then teleconferenced with the instructor and students on campus in Tampa. In the summer they will begin taking interactive courses offered through computers. "Through this partnership, we provide something important to Belize in that the students are able to continue their jobs as they take the classes, and to apply what they're learning without leaving the country," Gould said. "But they also have much to offer us. They bring a different dimension of public health service to the classes. Our students learn a lot from their issues and situations. We also plan to originate some courses out of Belize with some of their physicians and nurses. They have some wonderful experiences and knowledge to share. The program is a two-way street, a win-win situation for all partners."
"PENANCE AND LADDER" PAINTING JOINS COLLECTION
"Penance and Ladder," a mixed media artwork by Francisco Auyón of Guatemala, has been added to the Caribbean Basin Art Collection and is the featured Showcase Acquisition for the year 2000. Auyón recently won First Prize in the Paiz Foundation Biennial in Guatemala and then First Prize in the Central American Biennial.
Based on the human conditions in his native country, the artist shows three figures carrying the burdens that life brings, ascending three different ladders. Struggling to ascend the ladder of human effort, the figure weighted with the heaviest load rises to the greatest height.
According to David Pasquarelli, president of FAVA/CA, the work was chosen for the Caribbean Basin Art Collection for its artistic merit and also for its message of hope and inspiration for Guatemala, Central America, and the Caribbean.
"By including this work in the collection, we hope to further an understanding of this country and its history by the people of Florida," he said.
The Caribbean Basin Art Collection is a testament to the work of FAVA/CA volunteers and staff.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER CORPS 1999 OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
On February 23, 2000, ten FAVA/CA volunteers received 1999 Outstanding Achievement Awards. Awards were presented during FAVA/CA's annual Executive Advisory Council and Legislative Briefing in Tallahassee. The Briefing drew more than 200 participants including Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris and representatives of the White House Special Envoy to the Americas, US State Department, and Organization of American States. Also at the Briefing were Florida legislators and Executive branch department heads of Labor, Veterans Affairs, Management Services, and Community Affairs. US Southern Command and Save the Children representatives were on hand as well.
Governor Jeb Bush saluted the volunteers at a reception at the Governor's Mansion.
In his letter to the volunteers, US Senator Bob Graham, chair of the FAVA/CA Executive Advisory Council, said that they were to be commended and praised for their dedication and service to improving the quality of life in the Caribbean and Central America.
"Beyond building useful skills, relationships are established," Graham noted. "These invaluable connections between cultures and communities help us all better understand the mutual benefits of cooperation and compassion in making our world a more sustainable place now and for future generations."
While all of these volunteers have given generously of their time, expertise and energy, they have found the work has been rewarding to them as well.
Reflecting the feelings of many volunteers, Patricia Lager, one of this year's award winners, reported that "Volunteering with FAVA/CA has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my career. It's been an opportunity to develop a broad perspective on an international level of some of the needs people have in the Caribbean nations and how we can assist them. It's also given me the opportunity to develop some wonderful new friends. It's been very gratifying and an enormous reward."
Following are the 1999 Outstanding Achievement Award recipients:
Javier O. Castillo, a registered physical therapist, Miami; Xavier Cortada, a Cuban-American artist, attorney, and activist, Miami; John Daigle, executive director of the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, Tallahassee; John Fleming, a senior analyst with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Tallahassee; Harry Hooper, Florida Comptroller's general counsel, Tallahassee; Patricia Lager, assistant professor in the Office of Field Instruction at the Florida State University School of Social Work, Tallahassee; Rebecca Miles, professor of planning at Florida State University, Tallahassee; Donato Pietrodangelo, photographer and videographer, Tallahassee; Milagros Pinal Rincon, health facility evaluator with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, Pompano Beach; and Miguel A. Rivera, computer repair and maintenance consultant, Port Orange.
Capping the presentations, Xavier Cortada said, "Receiving the award helped validate what I think is an important responsibility for us. FAVA/CA provides us with leadership and a standard for making meaningful contributions to the world. Hopefully, through these awards, FAVA/CA will inspire even more Floridians to use their talents for helping our neighbors."