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The Newsletter of Florida's Unique
Development Partnership with the Caribbean Vol.
(Left to Right) Back row - Dave Schmeling, David Adams, Mark Schlakman. Front row - Maude Heurtelou, Magaly Prezeau, Ambassador Brian Dean Curran, Lygia Holcomb, Diane McNeel
USAID-Haiti Collaboration Strengthened, Diaspora Pursued
A $150,000 expansion and extension of FAVA/CA’s contract with the US Agency for International Development – Haiti (USAID-H) was announced in Port-au-Prince July 5. The agreement provides an additional 15 FAVA/CA consultants in support of USAID-H projects and underwrites activities to mobilize Haitians overseas (the Haitian Diaspora) in support of development of Haiti.
The announcement followed a gala Independence Day celebration at the Ambassador’s residence July 4. Surrounded by US and Florida flags and endorsed with a proclamation by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the event feted the unique Florida-Haiti relationship. Six Volunteer Corps consultants, on assignment in Haiti at the time, and visiting FAVA/CA officials, joined the celebration.
The Diaspora initiative was predicated on a successful April 20th FAVA/CA “Haitian Diaspora Outreach Seminar” at Miami’s Inter-Continental Hotel, underwritten by the Pan American Development Foundation’s Hillside Agriculture Project funded by USAID-H.
At the seminar, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Brian Dean Curran, delivered the keynote address to the 200 participants. The theme of the ambassador’s speech was volunteerism.
A panel of representatives from USAID, Aid to Artisans, the Hillside Agriculture Project, the Inter-American Foundation and Haitian business people focused on the possible roles for Haitians and Haitian-Americans. Among the ideas exchanged were the promotion and marketing of Haitian agricultural products and handicrafts; the provision of technical assistance and training to targeted Haitian private and public institutions; and the development of a heightened spirit of volunteerism in support of Haiti.
Terrorist Threats Tackled in Bahamas
oe Burgess demonstrating use of hazardous materials suit.
With the threat of terrorism worldwide, the Bahamas is particularly susceptible because of the number of cruise ships that visit the islands. To address the problem, two pairs of volunteer consultants traveled to the Bahamas from June 20 to July 3 to conduct training for the Public Hospitals Authority on how to respond to bio-terrorism and hazardous materials emergencies.
University of South Florida faculty, Dr. George Buck, professor, Center for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and the Center for Biological Terrorism Defense, and Erin Hughey, research associate and instructor, conducted bio-terrorism training. Joseph and Hilda Burgess, president and manager, respectively of Hotzone USA in Clermont, Florida provided training in hazardous materials.
Together the two teams provided a 40-hour course that enabled the participants to be certified as hazardous materials technicians. Following the course, Joseph Burgess also provided a three-hour forum on responding to terrorism.
The 35 participants included members of the national police force, fire brigade, defense force, EMS, doctors, nurses, the disaster preparedness committee and disaster coordinators. According to Paul Newbold, field director for National Emergency Medical Services, developing a collaborative effort was imperative.
“We had a very diverse and enthusiastic group, and most of them were decision-makers,” Burgess said.
Newbold concurred and noted that most of the participants wanted the course to continue.
“We’re planning to create a disaster management office,” Newbold said. “We have a committee that meets to prepare for hurricanes, but we need to be aware of all the emergency possibilities. We’re hoping to bring these trainers back soon.”
This mission was Burgess’s second for FAVA/CA.
“This kind of work is mutually beneficial,” he said. “I enjoy being helpful and sharing ideas, but I also learned a lot from them. It’s very valuable.”
Mexico Promotes Small Business Development
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network has a 26-year history of helping the state’s small businesses in a variety of ways. Now the organization is also instrumental in promoting and aiding the development of small business centers in Mexico.
FAVA/CA sponsored a Florida SBDC Network project from May 12 to 25 that provided consulting, assistance and support for small business development centers in Villahermosa, Tabasco and in Merida, Yucatan. The center in Villahermosa is housed and sponsored by the Universidad Tecnológico de Tabasco and was expected to begin seeing its first clients in early Fall. The Merida center is currently functioning and planning on expanding its role within the business community.
John Hosman, a graduate student from the University of West Florida, helped in the development of a strategic plan for the Universidad Tecnológico de Tabascos’ small business development center.
Jorge Lopez, a graduate student at Florida Gulf Coast University, assisted in the development of a survey instrument to assist in determining the status of current export/import activity in Merida, Yucatan. In addition, he is compiling a database to be used by the economic development organizations to reach out and market services provided by the small business development centers in Fort Myers, which will be made available to the center in Merida.
Both students received college credit for their work. Their missions were funded by FAVA/CA through a grant from the Florida Department of Education.
“This mission would not have been possible without the aid and support of FAVA/CA,” said Marcia Sergent, Director of International Programs for the Florida SBDC Network. “Through this support, we have been able to provide resources to our consortium partners in Mexico.
“I cannot say enough good things about FAVA/CA. This partnership enhances our ability to serve as a resource to help entrepreneurs in Mexico. The stronger we are as neighbors, the stronger we are as a community.”
Julieta N. Valls, FAVA/CA President
The FAVA/CA Board of Directors has selected Miamian Julieta N. Valls, as President of FAVA/CA.
Cuban-born, Valls has twenty years of international development, management, fund-raising, and marketing experience with the private, public, and non-profit sector. In addition to a wide knowledge of program design, development and management, she has extensive cross-cultural knowledge gained by working and living in six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and broad insight into corporate, private sector and governmental relations on both a domestic and an international scale.
“The last twenty years of my life have been dedicated to doing what FAVA/CA does best: supporting development efforts in this hemisphere,” she continued. Valls has worked with several of FAVA/CA’s partners, such as the Organization of American States, the Pan American Development Foundation and Partners of the Americas. She has also managed projects funded by institutions such as USAID, the State Department, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and the Inter American Development Bank.
During its July 12-13 Board retreat FAVA/CA directors discussed with Valls the organizational priorities of FAVA/CA’s mission. Among these priorities are the following: responding to change, strengthening and expanding FAVA/CA’s presence in the region, encouraging the private sector to act as agents of change, and creating more strategic alliances and teams.
“The world is now more ‘global’ than ever. It is a mixture of many different cultures and ethnic groups, especially in Florida,” Valls concluded. “No one can ‘develop’ anyone else. We can only work with others to realize their own objectives and dreams, primarily by expanding mutual opportunities in a climate of respect.
“Ultimately, international cooperation is based on understanding our neighbor’s needs and helping them to meet them, knowing that, in doing so, we are helping ourselves. After all, our backyards now run together.”
Nematologist Battles Crop Losses in Guatemala
Left to Right, Jose Miguel, Dr. Paul Lehman and Amilcar Celada identifying nematodes.
Seventy-eight billion dollars in crop losses worldwide are caused by plant-eating worms called nematodes, according to Dr. Paul Lehman of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry. Many countries have few or no nematologists to grapple with the problem.
Because of the threat of nematode plant destruction, Dr. Jack Schuster, professor of entomology at the Universidad del Valle in Guatemala City, Guatemala, decided to offer a course on nematode identification with the help of FAVA/CA. The university provides its services to both government and private sector agricultural concerns.
Plant parasitic nematode - Pratylenchus penetrans
Lehman traveled to Guatemala from March 31 to April 8 to conduct training and establish a foundation for future interaction and scientific exchange. Six scientists, including representatives from the national university and the Ministry of Agriculture, attended the training. All of them had some basic knowledge.
“I think it was a very good experience for the students,” Lehman said. “I know it was an excellent experience for me.”
Lehman said good relationships were established and that he would like to tailor training to individual needs in the future. He has also recommended establishing on-line courses to help train scientists worldwide in nematode identification and control.
“I think further interaction would be beneficial to the Florida Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture in Guatemala,” he concluded.
New Board Members Bring Legal, PR, Economic Talents
Three new board members bring a wealth of experience and expertise to FAVA/CA’s Board of Directors.
George C.J. Moore, a West Palm Beach attorney and board-certified specialist in international law, has served as a chair and member of the Florida Council on International Development, the Florida Economic Growth and International Development Commission and the Florida District Export Council.
Steve Toner of TonerCom International, Tampa, has 27 years professional experience in strategic marketing and public relations. His international service includes promoting clients through trade missions, trade shows, exporting/investment seminars, translation services and government relations with state and federal international agencies’ programs.
Cheryl D.G. Jennings, of Tallahassee, has a doctorate from Florida State University in Economics and Social Science Education and has served as the associate director for the Gus Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education since 1991. Her work includes an emphasis on designing, developing, monitoring and evaluating educational programs and policies locally, nationally and internationally.
Barbados Prison Improves Drug Rehab
Prisons are not always known for turning lives around. Drug offenders present a special challenge for corrections officials because of their special therapeutic needs. A project in Barbados seeks to remedy this situation. It began in 1998 as Jonathan Lofgren, regional administrator of adult justice and residential services for Operation PAR, Inc. Therapeutic Community in Largo, was involved in initiating a prison drug rehabilitation program in Barbados.
Because the prison now has a new superintendent who has allocated space to house a treatment program, Tessa Chaderton-Shaw, manager of the Barbados National Council on Substance Abuse, requested follow-up training for the program. The training was conducted June 23 to July 4 by Lofgren and Dr. Katurah Jenkins-Hall, a psychologist and associate clinical professor from the University of South Florida.
“We went to Barbados to help give the program more structure, to develop their curriculum and to develop their program evaluation methodology and we did that through several trainings with multiple levels of folks,” Lofgren said. “We also brought down a few of the protocols including relapse prevention and structured a 12-week model that they can apply to all their components. That was a huge accomplishment.”
According to Lofgren, the participants were overwhelmingly receptive to the training, and very open about their thoughts and opinion. The consultants conducted some surveys and were able to teach evaluation procedures through evaluations of the training itself.
“I thought it was a very successful mission. Unless evaluations are a priority for the program, the world and the stakeholders won’t know how effective the work truly is,” Jenkins-Hall said.
In addition to introducing evaluation methodology, new treatment protocols and training in various areas such as in-house counseling and community-based interventions, Lofgren said they were also able to get some of the staff certified as prevention professionals through the Florida certification board, an act which will help set the initiative for the organization to set up a coalition with other Caribbean countries to create their own certification board.
Lofgren praised Chaderton-Shaw for the work she has been doing with NCSA, coordinating island services for drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation.
“I’m very impressed with her work. She’s doing a fabulous job with limited resources and helping a large number of people on the island in the schools and through governmental policies. She’s doing some great work out there,” he said.
Jenkins-Hall also expressed her admiration for those who are working on the front lines of drug treatment in Barbados.
“I loved the people. They’re very hard workers, working with extremely limited resources. Our goal was to work with what they had and at the same time introduce state of the art evaluation measures and treatment methods,” she said.
FAVA/CA and the Peace Corps in Guatemala Protect Wilderness
Ipala Volcano visitors center
Peace Corps Guatemala has been working with ADISO, a local non-governmental organization, for several years to protect the wilderness around the Ipala Volcano, a unique ecosystem and important water source for local villages. Their efforts have resulted in the construction of a new visitors and environmental education center near the crater lake.
FAVA/CA volunteer Ricardo Zambrano, a wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, traveled to Guatemala April 17 to 25 to offer training in the design and construction of exhibits for the new center.
While at the reserve, Zambrano made recommendations for the center and the interpretive trail that is under construction. He also advised in the selection of a location of a scenic view to include shade and benches and a campsite.
According to Mike DeFranco, a volunteer with Peace Corps Guatemala, the visit was a success.
“Ricardo helped us out immensely with his ideas and expertise. Hopefully, now with the funds that are coming in, we can pull together a great interpretation of the center and the trail,” he said.
Zambrano reported that the interpretive trail is “off to a great start” and should allow visitors to view many of the park’s main attractions, such as the lake, vegetation and wildlife, without causing needless stress to the resources.
“I am pleased to have been able to collaborate in such a worthwhile project and to have also learned some things in the process,” Zambrano said. “I enjoyed my visit tremendously and look forward to seeing the completion of the interpretive trail and visitor center at the Volcán y Laguna de Ipala.”
Florida Faculty, Students Praise Overseas Program
In July 2001 FAVA/CA received a $320,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education to provide up to 150 overseas professional placements for students and faculty of Florida’s public universities.
As of June 30, 2002, FAVA/CA has facilitated 83 faculty and student missions from nine Florida institutions in 11 nations of the Caribbean and Central America through the grant.
Praise for the project abounds. According to Marie E. Cowart, dean of the College of Social Sciences at Florida State University, the project serves to train graduates who will make significant contributions throughout their careers.
“Having ‘real world’ experiences is essential to bringing the textbook information into a realistic application,” she noted.
With the support of FAVA/CA, Jodi Nearns, a doctoral student in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, participated in the Domestic Violence Prevention project in the Dominican Republic.
“This experience has truly strengthened my desire to continue focusing on international health, particularly in areas of research and development as well as improving access to health care for those living in developing countries,” she said.
Schools and disciplines involved include Florida A & M University - College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture; Florida Gulf Coast University - School of Business; University of Central Florida - School of Nursing, Florida Solar Energy Center and Office of International Studies; Florida International University - African New-World Studies Department, School of Architecture; Florida State University - Department of Anthropology, School of Social Work, Florida Public Affairs Center, Department of Urban and Regional Planning; University of Florida - Department of Natural History, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Department of Psychology; University of North Florida - Department of Communications and Visual Arts; University of South Florida - College of Public Health, Harrell Center for the Study of Domestic Violence, Department of Anthropology; University of West Florida - Florida Small Business Development Center Network.