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Fall 2003, Vol. 20, No 3
The Newsletter of Florida's Unique Development Partnership with the Caribbean
In Other News...
Trinidad Focuses Pest Identification Efforts
|Volunteer dale Habeck with trainee.|
Hairy legs. It's not something most people would think to take time looking at, up close, with a microscope.
If you're looking at a caterpillar, though, the position of its little leg hairs (setae) can make all the difference in knowing if your field harbors a harmless bug or a devastating one. It can affect the critical decision of whether to spray or not to spray a pesticide.
A caterpillar collector throughout his career, retired University of Florida Professor Dale Habeck traveled to Trinidad September 13 through 21. He trained entomologists, agricultural officers, plant quarantine officers, and agricultural assistants to clearly identify lepidopteran pests that attack various vegetable crops as well as avocado, mango, and papaya trees. Participants also learned how to rear caterpillars, discover what the adults look like, and study their own parasites.
"We were in the classroom most of the time," says Habeck, "divided up into teams to share microscopes. They were very enthusiastic and interested. This was something they had never been exposed to. The last morning we went into the field and saw [the caterpillars] in living color, not as the pale specimens they turn into after being put into a collection."
Wayne de Chi, an agricultural health and food safety specialist for the Caribbean Regional Center of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, says, "The participants were fascinated with the vast knowledge of Dr. Habeck. The training has given the personnel in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Marine Resources the tools to develop a pest list on lepidopteran pests of economic importance to Trinidad and Tobago and to the wider Caribbean in general. The pest list will give them the tools for preparation of Pest Risk Analyses, a compliance issue in the World Trade Organization."
Panama Stands Up to Money Launderers
Only three years ago, Panama was on the "black list" of countries not cooperating with anti-money laundering activities worldwide. The country is off the list now, due in part to FAVACA's role in training members of Panama's banking community. Retired bank regulator and FAVACA Board Member Antonio Fernandez has made three trips to Panama to offer training at annual money laundering conferences.
Luis Quinzada, training officer in the U.S. Embassy in Panama says, "200 people attended the 2001 seminar in Santiago de Veraguas, 286 attended the 2002 seminar in Chitre, Herrera. In the 2003 conference in Panama City, 300 cooperative members and managers as well as functionaries of our institution participated. There was a total of 185 credit unions represented that provide credit and savings services. This increase in attendance is attributable to the commitment of the Panamanian Autonomous Institute of Cooperatives (IPACOOP) and the representatives of its members in combating the insidious crime of money laundering, a commitment that is mirrored in the great strides that the government and people of Panama have made in this regard, since passage of the Law 42 of October 4, 2000. This is also a reflection of the great job that Tony Fernandez has being doing for the last three years."
Fernandez says that many Panamanian institutions are adopting additional anti-money laundering practices that have not yet been mandated by their own laws.
"After September 11, 2001," says Fernandez, "it was realized by many countries that the money laundering was fostering terrorist acts. At this year's conference, it was important to update [training participants] on our Patriot Act. The Act is going to affect many rules and requirements."
The training also emphasized KYC, or "know your customer," and the importance of all kinds of financial institutions recognizing and sharing information about suspicious activities.
Quinzada says, "As the Panamanian banking industry strengthens its efforts, money-launderers and their associates will increasingly search for other institutions through which to practice their crimes. Cooperatives, be they large or small, located in Panama City or in the interior, are vulnerable. The integrity of our cooperatives and of their assets, the protection of the member funds, and the confidence they have in our institutions, rests in no small measure in our diligence in ensuring that money-laundering does not gain a foothold in our businesses…. The seminar has an impact on attendees who realize that combating money laundering in all its forms is of critical importance to the development and economic and social prosperity of a nation."
Haitian Women, Children, Micro-Business Organizations Served
|Volunteer Guithele Ruiz|
FAVACA's USAID/Haiti grant is dedicated to providing technical expertise for disaster mitigation, micro-enterprise, capacity building, specialized medical training, curricula development, agri-business development, management of natural resources, and town planning. Three recent missions linked FAVACA volunteers with Haitian organizations seeking to expand their potential to serve their communities:
The Haiti Branch of Vital Voices: Women in Democracy sought training in conflict resolution. Volunteer consultants Dr. Michele Rice of Plantation and Dr. Deryl G. Hunt of Miami traveled August 3 through 8 to conduct a workshop on the Ellison Executive Mentoring Inclusive Community Building Model, developed by Dr. Hunt for diversity and conflict resolution training. By the end of the sessions, one group of women had developed an outline for a national plan to address the issue of the lack of education while a second group developed a proposal to raise funds to promote literacy in a Haitian city.
Rice, who was born in Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. at age 10, says, "During our week of training, there were several individuals who would ask questions like, 'Do you think we Haitians can do this?' -- meaning, could The Model work for Haitians?….My response to them was really asking them to consider, 'What makes you so different from other communities here and abroad?'….After seeing the participants at the training develop projects that would benefit their communities; after observing their enthusiasm and willingness to contribute to their communities; after hearing them tell us … how they looked forward to applying these conflict resolution concepts to their own personal and professional lives; I became quite comforted to know that we had accomplished what we set out to do."
Fonkoze, an alternative bank that assists Haitian micro-businesses, sought expert advice in human resources management following a major restructuring of the bank's operations in 17 cities. Veteran volunteer and human resources expert Guithele Ruiz of Plantation returned to her homeland to train Fonkoze's acting human resources director, to assist in establishing a system of human resources checks and balances, and to help department directors clarify their roles in the successful management of their growing workforce. Ruiz worked closely with the acting human resources director, whose devotion to the organization led her to place its service to the community ahead of her own professional and personal needs.
"Guithele covered more ground in four days than anyone else could have in a month!" says Fonkoze Director Anne Hastings. "She knows best practices in her field. The impact has already been realized in the new confidence she gave the new acting [human resources] director. We can't wait for her to come back again."
At The PAZAPA Center in Jacmel, disabled children receive much needed services to help integrate them into the community at large. All children enrolled at the center receive health care, nutritional supplements, hot meals, and family education on hygiene, first aid and nutrition. The latest information about the center is available to potential clients and donors on a newly updated Web site, www.pazapa.org. FAVACA volunteer Serge Joseph of Boca Raton worked with Pazapa staff September 3 through 8 to improve the design, update information, establish links to related sites, and know how to manage the site in the future.
INL Addresses Youth Issues
The U.S. Embassy - Barbados, Narcotics Affairs Section sponsored three recent projects targeted at empowering youth to shun drug addiction, violent crime, and activities that put their health at risk.
Lead trainer Jones says, "We introduced conflict vs. violence, what escalates it, how to recognize it, and skills to cope and solve problems without using violence. The immediate impact was that each location created a youth-led anti-violence club, designed and created their logo for the group, created products (i.e. bookmarks, banners) to advertise their club and organized a media event to advertise this club."
Although the training included teachers and students together, several student leaders helped conduct the training.
"They were phenomenal. We could not have done it without them. They are going to be leaders and we hope that they will begin to conduct training without our help."
This was the camp's fourth year, in partnership with Grenada's Drug Control Secretariat, Ministry of Education.
"The group was an exceptional one, with creative and highly motivated students and leaders. They absorbed the information quickly and embraced the role of peer educators," report Haush and Dygert.
In Barbados, youth commissioners and community development officers attended a workshop led by longtime FAVACA volunteer Randolph Alfred and Jacquelyn Merrell White, both with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The participants, who work with marginalized youth and young adults, gathered to receive a current, comprehensive understanding of substance abuse as it prevails in Barbados and to equip school- and community-based agents with strategies to effectively partner with Barbados' National Council on Substance Abuse, which sponsored the workshop. They made plans to establish a Coordinating Committee to promote the need for effective communication and the infusion and integration of culturally relevant drug education into projects undertaken by educators island-wide.
FAVACA Seeks Support of New Corporate Councils
Did you know that FAVACA receives three times more requests for assistance than it can meet? All across the Caribbean, groups and agencies want to train people to address critical needs in the region. All across Florida, volunteers are willing to go and share their knowledge.
Now, businesses have a way to help -- by becoming part of the newly established FAVACA Corporate Council.
What's the missing link? Money.
Companies who contribute $1,000 annually to finance FAVACA activities become Corporate Council members. Members benefit by increased exposure at FAVACA's special events, in its publications, and to its partners, including government officials, business leaders, universities, and non-governmental organizations in 29 countries in the region.
As state and federal funding cuts of thirty percent this year have limited the number of missions FAVACA has been able to fund, the support of a Corporate Council can make a significant difference in the lives of Florida's neighbors.
"The Council aims to offer companies the opportunity to fulfill their corporate responsibility by assisting FAVACA in carrying out its programs in the region," says FAVACA President Julieta N. Valls. "We look forward to exploring exciting new avenues of collaboration with companies who can help."
To find out more about becoming a member of the FAVACA Corporate Council, contact Valls at (954) 924-3865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Antigua Builds Crime-fighting Web Site
Technicians of the National Drug Information System at the Office of National Drug Control and Money Laundering Policy (ONDCP) in Antigua have gained the skills to develop a Web site to support crime fighting. The Web site is planned as a focal point for sharing information among various enforcement agencies. Julie Coberly of the University of West Florida conducted the workshop on how to design Web pages and how to research using the Web.
"I think it's going to be really positive," says Coberly. "They have a new facility. They hated having new technology and not knowing how to use it."
Clarence Pilgrim, coordinator at ONDCP, says, "We were so pleased with the results that we would like to continue on this track. There are several other organizations and concepts that could benefit from this service." This assistance was co-funded by the U.S. Embassy - Barbados, Narcotics Affairs Section.
Bruce Ward and Guyanese Peanut Farmers Find Creative Solutions
Bruce Ward has been a peanut farmer most of his life. When FAVACA sent him to Guyana, this son of a son of a peanut farmer came face to face with a people who, like his, had been raising peanuts for generations. The challenges were basically the same: soil fertility, disease, harvest. Ways to best meet these challenges were, however, a world apart.
"If all our neighbors live better, we're bound to live better, too."
Ward found that in Guyana it took 800 man hours per acre to raise peanuts, compared with four to six hours per acre in the U.S. All work was done by hand, with wooden plows for tilling, hoes for weeding, and forks for loosening ripe peanuts in the earth. Soil amendments could not be shipped into the remote North Rupununi District, and only a small portion of the harvest made it beyond the local market, carried by "spirited truckers" driving retired British military vehicles 250 miles down barely passable roads to the port at Georgetown. For productive land, farmers periodically had to move to new fields, cutting forest and burning it for the mineral-rich ash.
"There was a stern desire among the farmers to farm the same land rather than have to make new fields," says Ward.
The answers he would have given to growers back home, however, couldn't be implemented here.
"It was my first opportunity to spend any time not at the tourist level in a developing country," says Ward. "It was very eye opening. I asked myself, 'How do I throw away all the tools that I have in the U.S.? What do I have left to teach?'"
Each morning, Ward awoke in the Indian village of Annai and walked four to five miles to the nearby, close-knit communities of Aranaputa and Ruperti to work with the farmers there. Laboring with them, talking among them, possible solutions began to emerge. Existing sources of ash, such as brick making or lumber mill operations, could be tapped. Free-ranging livestock could be penned at night in the peanut fields rather than a separate corral, allowing these animals to "bring nutrients home." Crop rotation could control disease.
After a 10-day visit, Ward went home to his own, varied farming operations and his job as the Walton County (Defuniak Springs, Fla.) Extension Director. But eight months later he was back in Guyana, helping assemble and demonstrate a donated threshing machine. The following year he traveled to St. Kitts to assist peanut producers there in making a transition from adapted use of machinery used in local sugar production to diggers and threshers specially made for peanuts.
The promise of the peanut is high: it is high in protein, requires no nitrogen fertilizer to grow well, and stores without refrigeration. For Ward's work helping keep that promise viable, he was honored among FAVACA's 2002 Volunteers of the Year. And yet, he hopes an even greater promise can be fulfilled:
"I realized as a citizen and a father and a grandfather, we have a certain period of time to make a difference. We have the capacity in this country to export prosperity to many parts of the world at almost no cost. We have so much more than military strength to give the world. We can give prosperity. That's what FAVACA is doing. Sitting around me every day, rusting away in the weeds, are the tools to make prosperity over there. [When we help] we're not creating competition, we're creating opportunity. If all our neighbors live better, we're bound to live better, too."
In Other News
FAVACA President Julieta Valls participated in several prominent Florida missions fielded by Florida FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) and Enterprise Florida , the state's public-private economic development organization, in an effort to secure for Miami the Secretariat of the FTAA in 2005. Valls joined Governor Jeb Bush, Secretary of State Glenda Hood, and 220 Florida business leaders in the Dominican Republic during September 15 through 18. In Trinidad & Tobago during September 20 through 30, she traveled with the Florida FTAA Chairman, Ambassador Chuck Cobb, and Executive Director and COO Jorge Arrizurieta for FTAA meetings. In St. Kitts & Nevis during October 6 though 10, she met with Arrizurieta and officials of the Miami International Airport and the St. Kitts/Nevis Florida Association.
Levi Strauss has granted FAVACA $40,000 over two years to work with HIV/AIDS organizations in Haiti and South Florida. FAVACA-sponsored professional development workshops and networking events will advance the knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention and review, improve and distribute HIV/AIDS materials throughout Haitian and South Florida Haitian-American communities.
FAVACA has won a share in a five-year $1.7 million Farmer-to Farmer Contract that provides volunteer technical assistance in the areas of crop diversification, market development, organic products, and strengthening producer organizations in Jamaica, Haiti, and Guyana. FAVACA will receive $60,000 and work with these other members of the winning team: lead contractor Partners of the Americas, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Alcorn State University.
An AT&T grant of $2,500 will support a Volunteer Corps consultant's travel to the Caribbean to teach electronic commerce techniques to agro-processors. New communications technologies will help farmers reach new markets. The grant makes AT&T a pioneer member of the FAVACA Corporate Council.
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