Lignum Vitae Partners with new "Pathways" Program

Youth from Elizabeth Estates and surrounding areas gathered at the Thelma Gibson Primary School library this past Saturday, March 11th to become the first set of participants in the “Pathways” program. “Pathways” is a community action plan hosted by activist movement Rise Bahamas in partnership with social development agency Lignum Vitae Centre of Hope and community group Smart East. From 10 am - 12 pm children receive mind sports instruction in chess and the African board game Awari, which is taught by Dr. David Sands. There’s a one-hour lunch break until 1 pm, after which participants are provided a clear path toward entering a career or becoming their own boss. 

Pathways organizer Terneille Burrows said, “The mind sports component teaches children strategy and critical thinking while the 4H Building your Career curriculum encourages development through team building and confidence building exercises. I’m most excited to teach an introduction to music business class to the group. We’ve already discovered that there’s an emerging visual artist in the bunch. It’s very likely someone with a music industry interest will join as well.”

The initiative was made possible through a partnership with The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) via their Resistance & Prevention Program (RAPP) which is funded by the US Government. A certified RAPP Facilitator, Ms. Burrows brought partner organizations together to create a unique program that would impact participants in a variety of ways. The RAPP training process she underwent exists to prepare leaders to mentor, educate and encourage others working with young people to take concrete actions that improve the future of the next generation.

The weekly Pathways program will run until the last Saturday in April and is still accepting registrants throughout this week. Parents of children ages 12-14, in Elizabeth Estates and surrounding areas can register by Phone at 325-4800 or email risebahamas@gmail.com Deadline: Friday, March 17th. The program is free. Space is limited. Lunch and supplies are provided.

Health Rocks Fair a Tremendous Success!

Scrooge’s Corner was a hub of activity on Saturday, May 21, 2016 during Health Rocks in Grant’s Town put on by the 4H Dream Chasers. The goal of the event was to demonstrate healthy lifestyles through “show and tell”. The presenters delivered practical, entertaining, and educational advice on a range of topics including the importance of using clean water, the benefits of incorporating vegetables and fruits into one’s diet, and even how to develop a healthy body through regular exercise routines. In spite of the rain early in the day, the event was well attended from noon-5:00 p.m. Read on to hear more from some of the attendees, presenters and stakeholders.

One presenter, 11 year old Morgan Peterson of St. Andrew’s School, explains how she came to be involved in the event: “I had a project for exhibition and my topic was clean water. My action was giving water buckets away to places in The Bahamas”. During her online research, Morgan came across Tess Hahn (an advocate working to provide clean water to communities in need), and learned about Water Is Life buckets.

These inexpensive filtration systems can treat 5,000 gallons of water in a 5-7 year lifespan. She immediately thought about how these systems could help people in her own country, and purchased 15 buckets. Soon afterward, she spoke at the Rotary’s Inner Wheel and raised money for another 18. While she distributed a large number of them to Crooked Island, post Hurricane Joaquin, she plans to give the remaining buckets to residents of Bain Town. “It feels really good to know that my donations helped so many people,” she grins.  

Diane De Cardenas of Rotary, explains that her organization has done a lot at Scrooge’s Corner.

“The Rotary Healthy Food Truck is serving chicken breasts, and vegetables that the children are preparing right now. Rotary is providing the food, and they also donated diapers through Bahamas Waste, because promoting maternal and child health is one of our major initiatives”.  Additionally, The Rotaract Club put on free eye-screening during the fair. “If you happen to need glasses, you’ll get a free pair!” The Health Rocks Fair invited people from within and outside of the community to ensure the development of positive relationships between people in need and groups that have the means to assist.

Hands Up is an organization created through Lignum Vitae as a community outreach program. It employs single, unemployed women to develop sewing and entrepreneurship skills.

Women in the program first learn to sew their own bags and clothes and then branch out to other projects. One member explains, “When we are able to manage our own businesses, we can take machines home and make things to sell for ourselves.” When asked how this program had changed her life, she responded: “It was good for me to get out of the house and learn something new. It’s good for me because I can sew my own clothes, and it feels good to know that I have now developed a trade.” There are about 8 women in the program right now, and they are all quite supportive of one another in the attainment of their goals.

Near the food preparation table, JJ and Precious eagerly talked about the fruit cups, salad and smoothies they were making with the 4H club members. The children were very excited about the food they were making, and proud of the posters that they had drawn which were displayed on the walls around the event. The children were also enthusiastic about the eye testing, as some of them had never had that experience. 4H president, Kevin, was a great spokesperson for his group and highlighted that the children involved are all learning a lot about leadership and being good citizens.

Pastor Barbara Gibson-Evans and Pastor Harris Evans New Fellowship Church of God and Christ on Hay and Comfort Streets. They have a youth program wherein they assist children with their homework. They will be running a 12 week program wherein they introduce children to the teachings of Christ, and at the end each child will graduate and receive a bible. They recently gave out 125 gifts sponsored by the Samaritans Purse. “We are looking forward to spending some quality time with these children to see if they can bring out the gifts that God has given them”. Some of the children do not have access to the “outside”… not just outside of Nassau, but literally, the neighbourhood in which they live; therefore she found the Health Rocks fair very encouraging.

Pastor Barbara grew up in a similar community and feels blessed to have the opportunity to give back. “As long as you’re the person who got out, you’re to come back and help others. Show them the way that they can make their way a better one. I’ve been exposed to some of the same things they’re exposed to - peer pressure, drugs etc. You need that strength and guidance to stand up against it. She subscribes to the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child, and she is inspired by what Sheila, Uli, Scrooge and their teams are doing.

Scrooge is a real community leader with grand aspirations. He explains that because of poor education, many people are eating poorly and end up sick. Diabetes and cancer seem to be on the rise, and they want to prevent that. He was thrilled with the turnout for the event because there were people of all ages taking part. He felt that the community provided an excellent display of hospitality to attendees from other neighbourhoods and organizations.

As for future plans for Grant’s Town, Scrooge points out, “We’re going to celebrate Emancipation Day, and fix low cost homes along with Jeff Lloyd of Star 106.5.” They want to form a construction company that will help people without the funds to repair their homes while simultaneously providing jobs for people within the community. They also have plans to build some museums dedicated to: Marcus Garvey and MLK Jr. and Sir Randol Fawkes. Of the event as a whole, Scrooge says, “It’s good to see that we can make a difference”.

Violets are Blue is a For Profit NGO which Uli founded in 2014. “Only if we reintroduce economy into the inner city, can we actually help ourselves here. I do not believe in Charity or donations, so we developed several businesses which are part of the revenues and then used for a project like this.” Members fish for lion fish, and then sell some of the product to places such as Albany, Cafe Matisse, Greycliff. Part of the revenues are reinvested in the farm garden on Lewis St. “What I’m doing today is preparing locally grown food with the children. I went to the produce exchange and just got whatever they had. Oftentimes the kids don’t know what basil, parsley or garlic are.” Uli teaches them about the nutritional value of food as well as how to prepare it in a tasty way.

Together with Scrooge, Kenmen(fisherman from Inagua) and the rest of their team, they also use their truck for deliveries. They earn money and provide jobs for people. A recent venture is setting up beehives and selling honey! They also do garden work and maintenance. “This is a very bottom-up approach. I don’t believe in the ‘big vision’’… I just believe that you have to start somewhere.”

When they started at Scrooge’s corner, it was essentially a pile of rubble, however, through hard work and collaboration, they’ve proven that people from all walks of life can make a positive difference. By trade, Uli is an art historian and art dealer. He and his wife curated a Bahamian art show in Vienna. However, he spends a lot of time on community outreach programs. Along with Shelagh Pritchard of Lignum Vitate, he rented the house on Meeting St. to run the Hands Up program and provide a place for Kenman and his family.

It’s a shame that more people do not share their “Think Win-Win” vision. For example, there is a building off Lewis St. that Uli wanted to use as a community centre, but the owner wanted $4000 a month rent for it. It’s been vacant for about 2 years.

All in all, the Health Rocks fair in Grant’s Town was successful in its mission of promoting healthy lifestyles by sharing simple examples of how everyone can incorporate small changes in their daily routines.