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The Newsletter of Florida's Unique Development Partnership with the Caribbean Vol. 19,No 2
Sweet Smell of Success in Jacmel
The southern zone of Haiti has a long history of producing essential oils from agricultural raw materials, such as flowers and aloe vera. These essential oils are used for cleaning supplies and personal care. In order to assist in modernizing this industry and to produce a better quality and quantity of products, the USAID Regional Initiatives Program – Jacmel teamed up with FAVA/CA to deliver technical assistance for the Distillerie Gaston Michel in essential oils and medicinal alcohol production.
Veteran volunteer-consultant Dr. Nohemy Reid, a chemist with the Florida Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services , Division of Standards, Bureau of Petroleum Inspection, traveled to Jacmel from September 9 to 15 to conduct a five-day workshop for six staff of the factory.
“They wanted some help in eliminating the sugar cane odor from medicinal alcohol and they also were having problems finding the percentage of alcohol needed for essential oils and figuring out how to recuperate carbonic gas during production,” Reid said.
After assessing the problems, Dr. Reid suggested guidelines for quality assurance in the laboratory. She also assisted the owner, Gaston Michel, in the development of an action plan for resolving production problems.
Reid’s recommendations included the installation of a purified water system, better control of the distillation process, and improvement of tabulations of the quantity and quality of sugar for better results in the fermentation of alcohol production. She also suggested the procurement of analytical instruments for better accuracy.
“It was a good experience for me,” Reid said. “They need a new set-up for the lab, and they would like me to come back and help train them with the instrumentation in order to achieve better quality control.”
In addition to working with Mr. Michel, the volunteer-consultant also toured JACOSA, another essential oils factory in the area.
FIU Students Close Digital Divide In Haiti
Computer literacy training in Pliche
In recent months, Dr. Raul Moncarz, Vice Provost Biscayne Bay Campus of Florida International University, recognized the potential benefit that Haitian students could provide to their native country. Because Dr. Moncarz is keenly interested in encouraging students to participate in assistance projects in theCaribbean region, he invited FAVA/CA staff to meet with members of campus Haitian student organizations.
The meetings helped students discover their own potential to assist neighbors. Within a few months, two Haitian-American students studying Information Technology sent FAVA/CA a request from the parish priest in Pliche, a small village in southern Haiti. Father Yves, a man of vision, felt that Pliche is a progressive community, one that would benefit from having access to the world of the Internet.
The FIU students went to work, first designing a basic-level course in computer literacy. Next, they were successful in obtaining ten donated computers and accessories. With commitment to the project and enthusiasm, the students were able to convince American Airlines to waive excess baggage fees. Also, they sought and received help from the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad to facilitate customs clearance.
The volunteers Antoine Brunvil, Miami, and Gerald Jean Pierre, Pembroke Pines, traveled to Pliche in May and assisted in setting up the computer lab. These hard-working volunteers trained 85 participants during their stay.
Trinidad Alert to Citrus Canker
Although citrus canker has not been found in Trinidad and Tobago and other adjacent Caribbean countries, because of the increasing number of tourists and other international travelers, citrus canker and other non-native crop pests could be introduced and devastate the nations' agriculture.
In August Dr. Xiaoan Sun, plant pathologist, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Gainesville, and Dr. Robert Stall, retired emeritus professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville, conducted six days of training on citrus canker in Trinidad and Tobago.
The workshop was held in the Ministry of Agriculture Land, and Marine Resources Research Center and was designed to train local agricultural inspectors, extension service personnel and researchers in citrus canker detection and eradication. Early detection of possible introductions of citrus canker and other exotic plant pests is a key element in the Integrated Pest Management system to prevent a newly introduced plant pest from establishing itself.
“It is very good that agricultural personnel are thinking about the future. Although citrus canker is not a factor in Trinidad now, it could very well be in the future. If it does come to Trinidad, the authorities now have a basis to avoid confusion about the danger of the disease to the economy of Trinidad,” Small said.
The participants learned about the history, biology, spread, isolation, identification, field and laboratory diagnosis, epidemiology, survey techniques, and quarantine of citrus canker. They will now train more agricultural inspectors in their designated areas and impart the knowledge and skills they learned in the class to get ready for any possible introductions of devastating plant pests. The Citrus Canker Eradication Program was presented in the workshop, and a joint effort was proposed to prevent the disease from entering the Caribbean countries.
The workshop was co-sponsored by FAVA/CA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture – Regional Center in Trinidad (IICA) and Ministry of Agriculture Land and Marine Resources in Trinidad and Tobago.
Wayne De Chi, agricultural health and food safety specialist for IICA, hosted the national workshop on citrus canker for Trinidad and Tobago.
Alternative Energy Sparks Interest of Dominica's Emergency Managers
When hurricanes and other natural or man-made disasters cause a loss of power on the small island of Dominica, the effect can be devastating. Cecil Shillingford, national disaster coordinator with the Office of Disaster Management in Dominica, attended a workshop on solar power in Florida and realized this could be a resource for his island’s emergency managers. He requested assistance from FAVA/CA.
In August FAVA/CA volunteer consultant William Young, a research engineer at the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida, went to Dominica to conduct a week of training in alternative energy sources. Twenty-six representatives of various organizations that respond to disasters attended the workshop, including firefighters, police, public works staff, telephone repair and maintenance workers, and amateur radio operators.
“They seemed excited to learn this information,” Young said. “Several real life applications needing energy were offered as exercise examples by attendees interested in designing them to use photovoltaic power. Each attendee tried their hand at operating the photovoltaic equipment brought to the workshop for demonstration.”
After completing the workshop, Young held meetings with University of Dominica and Ross University officials for the purpose of developing partnerships for a curriculum development project on solar energy and community health. The Florida Solar Energy Center and the University of Central Florida would work with the two universities to develop the curriculum and implement the educational program.
According to Cecil Shillingford, the training was timely and very effective.
“It did provide very worthwhile information to response persons of the National Emergency Planning Organization of what is available in terms of alternative energy which can be used following a disaster. Dominica is blessed with lots of wind and sun and we want people to begin exploring these alternative forms of energy when the main grid is down, especially during storms and hurricanes,” he said.
In addition to emergency applications, Young foresees the possibility of using solar energy to provide electricity for people living in remote areas of the rain forests on the mountainous island.
Studios Project Studies Rastafarian Views
Chris Hagelin talking with Balla, a Rastafarian Elder
University of South Florida anthropology doctoral student Christopher Hagelin is completing work on his dissertation which examines the decision-making processes among Jamaica's Rastafarian culture and government water supply agencies. With the financial support of FAVA/CA, he was able to return this summer to conduct the remainder of his dissertation fieldwork.
Following is an excerpt from his report:
“Since 1994, I have been conducting anthropological fieldwork in a small rural district in the hills of western Jamaica. The case study for my research is the Southeastern Westmoreland-Darliston Water Supply Scheme, which has brought the first pipe water to this region. Prior to the completion of the project, rainwater harvesting was the only source of potable water.
While the vast majority of residents welcome the arrival of pipe water, accusations of mismanagement, corruption, and poor design have circulated around the district. Some of the most outspoken critics are the Rastafari, who have challenged the government’s views on the ends and means of development.
As a result, many non-Rastas share a similar view with their Rasta neighbors that current government and National Water Commission policies and project designs serve to benefit the haves and perpetuate the suffering of the poor. While water now flows in underground pipes along the road, over half of the households in the district are unable to afford the high cost of connection and monthly bills.
I believe my research findings reinforce the idea that only by listening to the people can we minimize the harm and maximize the benefit of planned change. This project is funded in part by a grant from the Florida Department of Education.
SOUTHCOM FAVA/CA Partner On Humanitarian Assistance
The United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is the unified command responsible for all U.S. military activities in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The Command supports U.S. interests in the southern theater by establishing and implementing plans, programs and policies that contribute to the defense of the U.S. and its allies.
The Command carries out its missions and objectives through several means, including humanitarian assistance and civic action. To this end SOUTHCOM has joined forces with FAVA/CA for several projects to benefit the countries in its jurisdiction.
Among the most recent of these projects are training missions and consultations in Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua. (See related stories for details.)
In terms of the success of this partnership which was established two years ago, Humanitarian Assistance Program Manager Harry Turner, has touted FAVA/CA as a “center of excellence.”
FAVA/CA President Julieta N. Valls praises the potential of this new partnership, “Our organizations are going beyond traditional military and social agency roles in a new team with a human face and a ’no strings attached’ mentality. We have a shared vision and solid commitment to sustainable humanitarian initiatives.”
Volunteer Ronald Williams demonstrates emergency Medical Training (EMT)
Under the agreement with the US Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program, FAVA/CA executed a project on bio-medical waste in Nicaragua. FAVA/CA return volunteer Dr. Francis Arab, specialist in environmental health with the Florida Department of Health Miami-Dade County, traveled to Nicaragua from September 22 to 28. The purpose of this visit was to assess the current systems for the management of medical waste at hospitals and offer recommendations for the improvement, implementation, and regulation of these systems.
Arab met with Dr. Jose Luis Perez, director of Emergency and Disaster Programs at the Ministry of Health, and engineer Rosa Ines Martinez in the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry. They discussed the current disposal systems and the possibility of developing a training program for hospital staff to enhance their ability to prevent injury and potential spread of disease.
Site visits were made to seven hospitals where Dr. Arab assessed the system for infectious waste management at each hospital. He found that while most hospitals have a system in place for classifying the waste, they do not have the proper medical containers (red bags, sharp container boxes) to dispose of the waste. Most hospitals bury the waste in the yard behind the hospital, except for those who have incinerators. It was noted, however, that those with incinerators are not in proper working condition.
A meeting with engineer Maritza Obando, director of the Environmental Health Department in the Ministry of Health, proved successful in identifying follow-up activities.
“The technical assistance received was opportune and very valuable given that at this time we are finalizing the implementation of the new General Health Law which regulates the disposal of hospital waste,” Obando said.
Additionally, Arab provided basic infectious waste management training for the staff of two hospitals.
Maria Figueroa-Rodriguez with firefighters
Because of its geographical location, Guatemala is vulnerable to a great many natural disasters, including hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and mudslides. As part of the joint effort by the US Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program and FAVA/CA, Miami Dade Fire Rescue Division Chief Maria Figueroa Rodriguez returned to Guatemala City from September 16 to 20 to provide training in emergency management.
Figueroa taught a one-day course on Incident Command Systems for 30 representatives from the Municipal and Volunteer Firefighter Corps and disaster managers from the national disaster coordination agency, CONRED. The eight-hour course was designed as a train-the-trainer event and included a table-top practical exercise.
The rest of Figueroa's week was spent in consultation with the volunteer firefighters to improve their new EMT training course. Chief Figueroa observed and critiqued training classes, reviewed curriculum, toured emergency facilities at the three main hospitals and rode along with EMTs responding to accidents.
“When I was there, they were dealing with the recent mudslides that caused many deaths just outside of Guatemala City. By offering training in the Incident Management System, the emergency workers are better able to handle the tasks that an emergency of great magnitude entails,” Figueroa said.
The volunteer consultant reported that participants of the training are also implementing an Emergency Medical Service within the fire service in Guatemala.
Belize Biomed Engineering
In the fall of 2001 Frank Triscritti, director of biomedical engineering at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, consulted with Elvis Novelo, lead technician, and other staff of the National Engineering and Maintenance Center, Ministry of Health in Belize. Triscritti worked with Novelo to set up equipment maintenance software and assess training needs for the nation's technicians.
Triscritti determined that general management training was needed in order to complete a thorough inventory and develop a system to manage work orders. Because Belize receives donated equipment, much of their equipment is obsolete and parts are no longer available. In addition, the medical practitioners aren’t trained in the use and maintenance of the equipment.
FAVA/CA, with funding from the U.S. Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program, purchased the needed software, and Triscritti is returning to Belize this fall to continue his work and help the Ministry of Health set up a more effective general equipment management system.
New Members Join FAVA/CA Board and Staff
Robert F. Milligan
FAVA/CA’s newest board member, Bob Milligan, was elected to a four-year term as Comptroller of Florida in November 1994. He was re-elected in November 1998 to a second term. He earned a B.S. degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master’s degree in business administration from the
University of Rochester. He also studied economics at the doctoral level at the University of
Maryland. Comptroller Milligan has focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the accounting and auditing function of the Comptroller’s Office and aggressively pursued programs to support consumers by improving communications.
Celia D. Silva, administrative assistant, joined the FAVA/CA staff in August 2002. Originally from Brazil, Silva has lived and worked in New York and Caracas, Venezuela, and has over twenty years of experience as an assistant administrator and freelance translator. She has a B.A. in Philosophy from NYU. Silva worked previously in the administration of grants for the Latin America Program at the International Women’s Health Coalition in New York. She is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.
Caribbean Basin Art Collection Tours State
"Artists have successfully crossed borders that politicians have not."
Dr. Shifra Goldman
Since its inception as an organization in 1982, FAVA/CA volunteers have returned from their Caribbean missions with a reverent spirit of appreciation for the colors, textures,
sights and sounds of the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Basin Art Collection began in 1996 following the generous donation of an original Haitian piece of art, Haitian Street Cooker by Franck Louissaint. The tour was launched July 2001 with an inaugural exhibit in Coral Gables.
Artists in the permanent Collection represent Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and the United States. Additional artists included in the exhibit are from Jamaica, Barbados
and Panama. FAVA/CA gratefully acknowledges individuals who co-curate the exhibit and loan works from their collections. They are Dora Valdes-Fauli, Tina Spiro, Diane McNeel, Bebita and Frank Mestre, and Mark Schlakman.
Thus far, the exhibit has traveled to Tallahassee where it was displayed at the Capitol during the Florida Department of State's International Days 2002, the Orlando Museum of Art and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville.
Special thanks go out to the following sponsors of the Orlando Art Show: John R. Hart, Esq., Dr. Solomon Melgen, Power Marketing & Management, The Language Bank, Inc., Chastang, Ferrell, Sims & Eiserman, L.L.C., CPAs, Hendry, Stoner, DeLancett & Brown, P.A., Attorneys. The winner of the drawing for a signed and numbered Haitian Street Cooker print is Hal Sumrall of Maitland, Florida. For more information about the Caribbean Basin Art Collection, please call Lauren Allen Schlakman at 850/523-0445.
All Florida Media Works
Cade and Associates
Carroll & Company, CPAs
Florida Department of Education
Development Alternatives Inc. (Haiti - Hillside Agriculture Project)
The Embroidered Department
Florida Department of Community Affairs
Florida Department of State
Gabriel's Moving & Storage
Graphic Edge Inc.
Pan American Development Foundation
Pan American Health Organization
Ron Sachs Communications
Tallahassee Farmers Market
USAID - Haiti
U.S. Embassy -Barbados
U.S. Southern Command