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St. Vincent & The Grenadines

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The House of Hope Society's main aim is providing hospice care to persons living with HIV/AIDS.  They have been expanding their services to meet the needs of bed-ridden patients.  The volunteer caregivers provide companionship for patients who are often isolated from their community with counseling, medical visits and care giving such as basic hygiene and provide relief for family caregivers.  The House of Hope Society requested assistance in the training and management of staff and volunteers in order to better care for their patients through skill building and instruction.  Dr. Neil Abell, an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at Florida State University, and Pat Lager, a retired professor from Florida State University's College of Social Work, traveled to Kingstown, St. Vincent to provide assistance on hospice management and care from May 27-June 3, 2012.

During the training, both volunteers were able to successfully provide information to the House of Hope Society's staff and volunteer caregivers on good care practices, proper interaction with patient's families, and setting realistic goals for both patient and family. Topics discussed included decisions on who to involve in treatment decisions and care, better understanding of the caregiver's roles, and strengthen caregiver skills coupled with the minimization of burnout.  Since the volunteer caregivers provide assistance to HIV/AIDS patients, Abell and Lager provided a comprehensive lecture on risk, prevention, opportunistic infections, antiretroviral therapy, and palliative care options.  Family assessment and intervention methods on grief were also covered in the training.  The stages of loss and normal responses by patients, families, and children were presented, and basic counseling skills and techniques were taught for use with hospice patients and families.  Once the participants were able to understand the counseling portion of the training, Abell and Lager continued with a crisis intervention model where they provided an overview of the stages of crisis and normal responses, along with assessment and intervention techniques with patients and families.  The topic of stigma related to HIV/AIDS was also presented, and how to appropriately respond to the discrimination of others towards people who are infected.  The last major focus of the training was on administrative practices needed while managing volunteer hospice caregivers.  Lager provided information on useful management techniques and supervisory styles that work well for caregivers.


The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) provides cooperation, innovation and specialized knowledge to contribute to the competitive and sustainable development of agriculture in the Americas and to improve the lives of rural dwellers in their member countries. In 2006, Bo Sterk, a private beekeeper from St. Augustine, traveled to St. Vincent where at the time only 26 hives existed on the entire island due to heavy losses from a Varroa mite infestation and honey was not found in local markets. Sterk was able to provide valuable assistance on how to combat the Varroa mite and since that time, the industry has grown to nearly 400 hives and honey is once again on store shelves. IICA and the St. Vincent Ministry of Agriculture would like to continue the growth in hives while also increasing honey production to the point where St. Vincent is exporting honey to neighboring countries.  To begin this next step for the beekeeping industry, IICA requested the support of FAVACA to once again have Bo Sterk work with IICA, the Ministry of Agriculture and local beekeepers to provide an assessment of the current production practices and to advise and inform the industry stakeholders on approaches that can be adopted to develop their industry in a sustainable fashion. Sterk traveled to St. Vincent November 27-December 9, 2011 and met with local beekeepers to train them on hive and honey production and pest management issues. While in St. Vincent, Sterk traveled to the Grenadine island of Bequia and provided three days of extensive training with several private beekeepers. The beekeeping industry in Bequia is thriving however beekeepers were still in need of training on honey production and pest management issues. The project was highlighted by the fact that Sterk and his colleagues were able to repopulate bees on the island of Mustique. A hive was loaded on a speed boat and taken to Mustique which did not have a single hive on the island. A local beekeeper on the island will begin the process of dividing the hive to multiply the amount of bees on the island. 


The growing season for vegetable production in the Caribbean is generally quite limited with some varieties being grown in the colder months.  The short growing season forces hotels and restaurants to purchase vegetables from outside of St. Vincent and farmers are forced to lower their prices for vegetables to remain competitive with imports.  To allow farmers the ability to grow vegetables out of season and to increase local farmer sales, greenhouses and shade houses would need to be constructed since these facilities allow farmers to grow vegetables year round.  However, the use of greenhouses in St. Vincent is rather limited and most farmers and Ministry of Agriculture officials do not possess the technical expertise to start up and maintain greenhouses.  Dr. Greg Robbins of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines requested the expertise of a greenhouse manager from FAVACA to train participants on starting up and maintaining greenhouses, specifically focusing on greenhouses in a tropical climate.  First time volunteer Mark Rehder, the executive director of Farms for Families in Livingston, Montana, trained Ministry of Agriculture field specialists, CARDI extension agents and local farmers on a variety of aspects of greenhouse management from March 17-29, 2010.  Topics covered: the variety of structures available to farmers, the different type of covering on the market, land preparation and planting, tropical varieties, irrigation, mulching, and pest management. As a result of the training provided by Rehder, CARDI's field station will act as a demonstration and training center for farmers to come and learn aspects of greenhouse management.


Goodwin Daniel, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture coordinator in St. Vincent and the Grenadines requested a follow-up training for Bee Inspectors on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture. The bee population has declined very rapidly, from over 100 hives three years ago to ten hives presently. Return volunteer Bo Sterk, Jacksonville, traveled to St. Vincent January 21-29, 2006 to provide workshops and consultation on integrated pest and disease management with special emphasis on sustainable "organic" strategy, queen-rearing methods, and monitoring surveys. Sterk met with 17 beekeepers and two technical personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture. Building on previous integrated pest and disease management training, Sterk endeavored to encourage beekeepers that had lost colonies to reestablish apiaries once a supply of healthy bees could be procured. The Ministry has assumed responsibility to assist beekeepers in their efforts to resuscitate the industry.


Chester Peters, Club Secretary, hosted instructor training in Port Elizabeth, Bequia. First-time FAVACA volunteers, Tonnie W. Rollins, Tallahassee, and Scott W. Barry, Tallahassee, traveled June 18-25, 2005. Rollins and Barry conducted sessions in First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for children and adults, as well as Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training to over 30 participants. Bequia, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, is a small island whose population and emergency incidents expands dramatically during the busy tourist season. Rollins is a 14-year veteran of Tallahassee's Fire Department and Barry has spent 12 years as a charge paramedic and alternate supervisor with Leon County. The course provided participants in the training and skills necessary for administering CPR and rescue breathing to victims. The class was conducted in accordance with the standards required by the American Heart Association. Upon completion, over 50 Bequia participants were awarded with certificates of completion or a certification card. This volunteer mission was made possible in-part by the generosity of the Jimmy Buffett Singing For Change Foundation, OUTBACK Steakhouse®, and CARRABBA'S Italian Grill.


Chester Peters, Bequia Rotary Club requested training in microenterprise skills for seamsters on the island. Recently eight domestic and two industrial sewing machines were dontated and sewing center established. The training provided by return volunteer Elizabeth Wandrei, April 10-17, 2005 focused on the small business skills needed to start up a self-sufficient cottage industry as well as sewing skills training focused for the tourism industry. Wandrei, owner of Dolls by Elizebeth in Panama City Beach, has more than 30 years of sewing experence. Ten participants learned to make bags, napkins, tops and skirts as well as other apparel.


The St. Vincent Banana Growers Association (SVBGA) is a statutory organization that controls the cultivation of bananas and banana plants in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. SVBGA provides services to approximately 2,500 farmers operating 4,300 acres. Due to a decrease in staff, SVBGA is faced with a decline in its communication to farmers. A critical issue for the Association is to inform farmers of new requirements for exporting as well as keeping them up to date on methods for the control or prevention of pests and diseases that affect cultivation. Mr. Lesley Grant, SVBGA’s general manager, requested technical assistance in improving their communication tools in order to effectively inform farmers of the new EUREPGAP criteria and to assist the association in establishing a banana certification program. Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Kidder, retired agronomist and soil scientist, from Gainesville traveled to St. Vincent November 17-23, 2003 where he worked with SVBGA staff. Farmers not in compliance with the EUREGAP criteria will no longer be able to export to the UK, the principal market for Vicentian banana.

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