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Trinidad & Tobago

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The Empowerment Foundation of Tobago (EFOT) was established in 1997 to provide the unemployed, unskilled, disadvantaged, young persons, single parents, and women in Tobago society with basic computer training and life skills.  The organization expanded courses to include computer literacy, video programming and production, Auto Cad, basic literacy, computer literacy for the blind, carpentry, plumbing, and construction.  Recently EFOT began focusing on environmental sustainability due to concerns about the effects climate change could have on Tobago.  Due in part to solar energy training FAVACA conducted in 2011, the foundation currently provides adult training courses on the use of solar electricity and renewable energy to provide power to buildings and meet Tobago's energy needs.  However EFOT also required training on the installation of solar equipment on buildings and requested a FAVACA volunteer to provide this training.  Bill Young a 37-year veteran in the solar energy field and Senior Research Engineer for Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division of the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Florida, agreed to work with EFOT and traveled to Tobago May 20-26, 2012 to train participants on solar energy system installation.  Young taught participants to conduct site surveys, estimate energy output, and select a system that fits the needs of the building.  To ensure the highest standards in safety, Young provided workshops on solar safety with special emphasis on safety during the installation process.  Young provided information on necessary tools and supplies for installation, wiring the array, utility interaction with inverters, connecting the grid to the inverters, connecting batteries and charging controllers.  Lastly, Young carried out workshops on conducting an acceptance test to ensure proper installation.  To provide hands-on practice in the installation process, EFOT purchased a solar system from a Florida-based company and Young and the participants were able to mount the system to EFOT's roof and install the brackets and panels and connect the wiring to the batteries and inverters. Young also visited a local grade school and high school to encourage students to become environmental stewards, teach students about the importance of solar energy and find a career in solar energy.


The Empowerment Foundation of Tobago (EFOT) was designed to address basic skills and computer training for the entire island of Tobago with its central focus on the unemployed, unskilled, disadvantaged, young persons, single parents and women of Tobago society.  Courses are provided in small appliance repairs, food processing, and video programming and production, Auto Cad, basic literacy, and computer literacy especially for the blind. The Foundation also acts as a facilitator for empowerment and development in Tobago and does this by providing information and accommodations for classes such as plumbing, carpentry, and construction. However a new focus towards environmental sustainability has arisen and EFOT has implemented the utilization of a solar energy center, providing solar energy training for adults through the installation of solar panels. To help create the solar panel curriculum, Bill Young, Senior Research Engineer for Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division of the Florida Solar Energy Center, traveled to Scarborough, Tobago April 30 - May 7, 2011 to train 15 individuals on solar installation.  The workshop provided by Young enabled participants to understand the use of solar electricity and renewable energy for electric power to buildings. The course helped participants be better prepared and capable of meeting their energy needs and provide for the energy security of their buildings. The participants now have the skills necessary to begin working for solar companies on the island. Young was also able to connect participants with solar energy equipment providers from Florida.


Since 2004, farmers on the island of Tobago have been experiencing a significant decline in the amount of honey that is being produced on the island seemingly due to the presence of Vorroa mites and the wax moth. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) requested assistance from FAVACA to provide volunteers to conduct workshops for farmers and technical staff to learn to identify the culprits. Bo Sterk, Jacksonville, has as a decade's experience as a beekeeper and has focused on organic methods of pest control for the past 2 years, and Tom Mozer, St. Augustine, a former apiary inspector for the State of Florida, traveled to Tobago November 25- December 3,2006 in order to provide training to 20 members of the IICA and farmers.


Trade in fresh fruit and vegetables are very important to the agricultural sector in Trinidad and Tobago consisting of about 4% GDP. Over the past years, several varieties of thrips presented a challenge to the continued production of quality cucurbits, hot peppers and other vegetable crops. These thrips species pose a danger to export agriculture, especially the lucrative hot pepper trade with the United States. Agriculture, Health and Food Safety Specialist, Wayne De Chi, Inter-American Institute for Cooperative Agriculture (IICA), Trinidad working with the Ministry of Agriculture requested a training seminar that would enhance the knowledge and skills of officers in the research division of the entomology unit. Joseph E. Funderburk, Professor of Entomology, University of Florida traveled June 5-12, 2005 to provide the training. Mr. Funderburk provided workshops on numerous topics including: Thrips Diversity and Biology, Population Attributes and Dynamics, Management Programs, Extraction of Thrips from Samples and Keys to Thrips of the Caribbean and South America. A total of fifteen officers participated.


Johne’s disease is a chronic bacterial disease of the intestinal tract found in a wide variety of animals, particularly in ruminants. The disease is slow acting and adult animals appear to waste away although they continue to eat well. Because of this delay it can spread widely before being detected through laboratory testing. So the recent appearance of Johne’s disease in Trinidad is a major concern. The potential for it to spread to other island nations has big implications for the trade in livestock in the Caribbean. In response, the Caribbean Veterinary Medical Association put the disease as a featured topic of the 23rd Biennial Carribbean Veterinary Medical Association Conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Conference organizers at IICA and the Trinidad and Tobago Veterinary Association approached FAVACA for a volunteer to conduct sessions on the disease. Retired veterinarian, Dr. Robert F. Kahrs, St. Augustine, traveled to the conference November 7-12, 2004. Kahrs presented a paper on Johne’s disease and networked with veterinarians, agriculture and public health officials and veterinary students from around the region on disease control procedures. Also, he visited and consulted with professionals at the Trinidad Animal Production and Health Central Livestock Station and the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of the West Indies. Kahrs donated books to the Medical Sciences Library at UWI.


In the face of an aging population around the Caribbean the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus; the Division for Ageing of the Ministry of Social Planning and Development, Trinidad and Tobago; and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs came together to host the Caribbean Symposium on Population Ageing. The symposium aimed to share national best practices, produce strategy guidelines to mainstream ageing issues, establish contacts at the national and regional level and consolidate the Caribbean’s position on aging. FAVACA volunteer Dr. Pamela Elfenbein, Miami, was invited to make presentations on aging issues and religion and aging. Elfenbein is a faculty member of Florida International University’s Southeast Center on Aging. She traveled to Port of Spain, Trinidad, November 6-11, 2004, to attend the symposium and also consult with faculty and experts at UWI. The UN and UWI provided financial support for Dr. Elfenbein’s travel.

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