C.A.R.E’s Momentous Date with History!

By Nahdjla Bailey

Mitigating Climate Change by Engaging Youth in Increasing Food Security Using Aquaponics Technology Project: a bit of a mouthful for sure, but certainly not difficult to parse in this era of what has got to be essential knowledge of personal interest to all of a country’s citizens – terms such as Climate Change, Food Security and Aquaponics – more so, to citizens of a country such as Saint Lucia:  developing, vulnerable, independent in theory; yet in practice, dependent, in not a few ways.

Let’s start with the Now, shall we?  In October 2020, C.A.R.E. Limited (the Centre for Adult Renewal and Education) was awarded GEF-UNDP SGP funding for the above-mentioned project.  Unfortunately, because of this now two- year-old COVID-19 pandemic, several delays were experienced during the construction of the Aquaponics System which extended the completion timeline. However with the system having been built and testing carried out over the past four months, the time arrived when the official launch of the project became a reality.

This important event took place at the C.A.R.E. Anse-la-Raye Centre, where the Aquaponics System is located.  The date: 11th January, 2022, and the Stars in the Heavens could not have aligned more fittingly to deliver that very date. For it was on the 11th of January, 1947, seventy-five years ago, that the first Presentation Brothers landed in Saint Lucia, at the request of the Roman Catholic Church here, to assist the island in the field of Education. Therefore, clearly an auspicious date : at the present time with this pivotal project, and an auspicious date as we look back 75 years into the history of our land and the pivotal moment of the arrival of the Brothers, and then we must return again to the present as seventy-five years later the two resident Brothers working in Saint Lucia today, Brother James and Brother Robert, have marked that proud anniversary and have welcomed the great strides that Brother Dominic’s C.A.R.E. has made under the solid direction of Executive Director, Dr. Karleen Mason.

This one-of-a-kind learning institution in Saint Lucia with its highly rated Adolescent Development Programme (A.D.P.) in Phase 1 of the Course has continued to pay dividends for its in-demand graduates. It stands out for its efficacy not only in the education arena but also very much as a strong societal asset, contributing deeply to the economy by way of steady employment for its young graduates, and in addition, to the positive transfer value which its graduates add to the sociological aspect of Saint Lucia’s profile.

With the implementation of this project including the development of the Aquaponics System, comes the addition of a new Skill Area, that of Aquaponics, to be offered as part of the C.A.R.E. Skills Programme. There is no question that this event was seen as a significant one in the life of the nation given the presence of Mr. Barry Innocent, Deputy Director of Agricultural Services, who was representing the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Rural Development, and Mr. Giles Romulus, Country Coordinator, GEF-UNDP SGP (Saint Lucia), both of whom delivered brief remarks supporting this new C.A.R.E. initiative. The Presentation Brothers, Chairman of the C.A.R.E. Board of Directors, Mr. Bertram Clarke, the Project’s Coordinator, Dr. Felix Jaria and a few other special guests along with a few C.A.R.E. staff were present to celebrate the occasion. The limited numbers of course due to the COVID-19 protocols.

So, let us not hesitate to do the right thing and pause here to once more recognise and laud the continuing contribution of the Presentation Brothers to Saint Lucia’s education landscape, and in particular to look back with much gratitude in acknowledgement of  the visionary action by Brother Dominic in establishing C.A.R.E. on the island in April 1993.  I end as I usually do when writing about C.A.R.E. and that is by simply asking the rhetorical question, “Where would we be today without the 29-year presence of C.A.R.E. in Saint Lucia? And the answer always comes back, “Perish the thought!”

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