Trees, Weaves and JOCVs
So I suppose we haven't posted recently but that doesn't mean that life isn't exciting here, in fact it may mean that life is too exciting. There are many events that have happened in the last month. First up was a tree planting and training that I organized for 4H. We had a Jamaican Forestry Officer come into the office and train the clubbites on how to properly plant trees, tree biology and a the importance of trees in the environment. In fact the training was longer than I anticipated, I thought he would just tell them to make sure and take the plastic bag off before putting the seedling in the ground and leave, but he actually did a great job of teaching about the entire ecology of trees. It was at that point that I began to realize that tree biology is generally left out of the Jamaican curriculum. None of the kids at the training had ever heard of xylem or phloem tubes and as I've gone around planting the seedlings provided by the forestry department at 8 schools since the training I've yet to run into a kid who'd heard those words before. I really enjoy planting trees with kids and am thinking of trying to do a mass planting in the spring. The Jamaican Forestry Department has a goal of having the national tree, the blue mahoe, and the national flower, lignum vitae, in every school yard. This way kids can see firsthand these national treasures. Forestry told me that in the spring I could get a bunch of seedlings for the lignum vitae and the blue mahoe so I'm gonna see how many schools I can get them planted in, throughout St. Elizabeth. The lignum vitae has a dual role, as it is the national flower that blooms on a tree, but also it is the favorite flower for honey production. Hives placed near a lignum vitae tree produce a light and rich honey that gets the best prices in the local and export market. If I could only get more schools interested in apiculture...
In the beginning of November the St. Helena Women's Group was invited to a 'Green Globe 21' workshop in Montego Bay. It was a whole host of hoteliers, USAID people, and green companies based in the Caribbean. It focused on protecting the environment while promoting tourism as well as community based tourism, which is where the women's group came in. They are up for a grant that would build a workshop in their rural community to weave baskets, store finished goods, dry raw thatch and various other business tasks.
I took this picture of Ms.Dell doing her live weaving demonstrations during the workshop breaks. I actually learned to weave too, because I was bored waiting around for the conference breaks where I was supposed to hob-nob with hotel people and get them interested in placing orders with the women's group. Learning to weave was definitely the best part of the workshop for me, but I did manage to get them 3 different leads on orders. It's all for large scale production of things like tissue box covers, baskets with company logos and soap holders, hotel stuff. That said, it could prove to be the constant income that the group needs to take their business seriously. We'll see.
Finally I have some pictures of out recently completed 'Computer Repair and Maintenance' class that Khaled and I held at the 4H office throughout October and November. These pictures are from a session that we did in collaboration with the Japanese Oversea Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). During this class the participants learned to take apart a computer and put it together again. I have to say that I learned a lot from these sessions and that the JOCV did an outstanding job demonstrating how computer hardware works and is connected. Funnily many people don't know that there are other volunteers on island. The Peace Corps has a large contingent but the Japanese have about 50 and are growing. Also there are Canadian volunteers and British volunteers, but they tend to have very specific jobs and aren't able to do the same kind of outreach that PCVs and JOCVs can. I'll let Khaled give you the details of the class and it's finale in the next blog update, which I promise won't be a month from now!