Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grenada: Work & Life on the island

Working anyplace new is intimidating, interesting, integrating and always makes for good story. Grenada is no different. The island life is a good one, relaxed, always close to a beach and a drink of choice. That is unless you have work to do. Beach and drinks aren't much of a distraction, 'liming' or hanging out happens all the time so there isn't a prescribed time to do so, so it happens all the time. Making those who do it all the time looked down upon by those who don't and 'work' (which I'll discuss later)
Reflecting sun on Grand Anse beach in St. George's

People here on the island are great. If you walk by and don't want to be bothered they inherently know it and will leave you alone, most of the time. If you greet people as you walk by, as you should in most countries I have lived, they will greet you back politely, sometimes even ask 'how is your day?' If someone calls to you here, and it's other than your name or a proper title. Proper being Miss, Mam, Lady, etc versus improper; babe, baby, honey, sexy. You can simply raise your hand, open palm at them to acknowledge their presence and they will stop. Most of the time. This simple acknowledgement is quite amazing, like a secret power that you may not notice unless someone tells you it and then you see how it works.

Same happens in the public transport, which are passenger vans that hold typically 18 people but can squeeze in 22. This sounds awful, but the most time spent in a bus is maybe an hour, with windows open (no spirits to make you sick here thankfully) and on curvy roads with slick seats the cramming of people make it impossible to move actually making the ride MORE comfortable. I found the same in Senegal, when wedged between two people you can sleep, relax and forget where you are.
Buses and traffic on Market Hill road in St. George's

Conversation is optional again on the bus. You should greet the bus upon getting in and typically if you talk about anything else people may ask you more questions or converse depending their mood or personality. When you put in to the exchange they give back, but if you don't neither will they. It's quite interesting.
Blurry view of the fish market in Grenville

Work culture is even more complex. There are good jobs and not good jobs, there is also almost 50% unemployment, so you would think any job is a good job. Not the case. There seems to be a feeling of entitlement that people need a 'good' job, if they are capable of the job. Agriculture makes up most of the economy and you see plenty of vegetables, crops and fruits in the market, and I see farmers and know many of them for my work, but the labor force doesn't seem to be proportional.

In Senegal, being subsistence farmer, everyone, man, women, children worked the land. In Grenada, you would think that this would be the easier work to have with the largest payout but yet people have a small garden or plot, but I hardly see it as an 'everyone' can do this approach. I hate to think what Grenada will be like if this continues as the people I do see working the land are older (40+).

I find the island to be very tolerating of other people, their ideas, religions, and customs. There are probably at least 8 religions on the island even though it's predominately catholic. I've also heard of many other Caribbean people on the island along with Indians, Syrians, Germans, Brits, Belgians, and of course Americans. There are mixing of these groups at various times, but there are definitely segmentation of each group as well in the larger culture.

I very much enjoy this place, people and atmosphere, but there are definite underlying inter-personal and larger political issues at play here that makes this place difficult to get much done. I know I say this after posting what I have been able to do after 6-months, but I can easily see more that could be done or accomplished in the same amount of time if a few more things were in place.

"Some people hate change.  They don't hate you. If you get confused about that, it's going to be difficult to make (needed, positive, important) change in the future."        
Seth Godin Blog November 4, 2015

Futurist Cecily Sommers writes  "[t]he four forces of change are resources, technology, demographic and governance." in Think Like a Futurist. 

Sommers, C. (2012). Think Like a Futurist: Know What Changes, What Doesn’t, and What's Next. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Grenada: Six Month Work Review

Monthly reports are part of most Response volunteer's life. Luckily I do not have to do the Peace Corps reporting that is now computerized matrix to input numbers based on objectives. Lots of monitoring and reporting. It's great to understand whats going on, but it's really difficult to understand what is really happening on the ground through those numbers. I understand needing the quantifying of our very undefinable jobs as Peace Corps volunteers. Here on Grenada, the 27-month volunteers have very specific roles as Teaching Assistants for primary schools for reading development skills.

In the Peace Corps St. Lucia office
The other Response volunteers work with children with learning and behavior challenges at a school and children's home, respectfully, another at the national museum and me with the beekeeping association on the island.

As nice as it is having a defined job description, what is the likelihood you do any or all of them when you get to a developing country? It's depends upon the expectations of the organization and their resources frankly. As most Response positions on the island, expectations were high and what we would be able to accomplish and semi-unrealistic. It's hard to get someone to come down from a cloud. Even worse when they are unwilling to see what's on the ground to work with or lend a hand. 

The front of the Sub office where my office is

This an edited summary report that I've submitted to my partnering association, Peace Corps, and other partners I have on the island.  There are sections for my recommendations to the partner organization and Peace Corps/Response as well a list of my major collaborators that I have left off but very valuable to document and share. Also I have added pictures where possible to help illustrate :)

History of Partnering Organization
Formed in 1998, Grenada Beekeeping Association (GAB) was formed from fourteen young persons that took a 2-week beekeeping course organized by Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Initial funding came from Agency for Rural Transformation (ART) and the National Development Foundation (NDF). Until 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) also provided subvention and a technical officer from the Veterinary and Livestock Division of the MoA had been assigned full time to assist GAB members.  Their office at the Ministry of Agriculture Extension office in Grenville.

“Over the period 2002 to 2008, the number of registered beekeepers increased from twenty-seven to fifty-seven; the number of hives in use increased from 810 to 1710 units; and honey production increased from 13,324lb to 28,129lb. (These figures can be verified from official statistics.) Present estimates indicate that the number of hives has dropped to 1400, but the yield per colony has increased because of better beekeeping practices. This is mainly due to the efforts of GAB to improve the ability of beekeepers and to have beekeeping equipment and materials available at most times, and at reasonable costs to beekeepers.” 

Previously the association had been a co-host to the Caribbean Beekeeping Congress (2011), participated in World Food Day Celebrations (2009) and the week of Agriculture (2010) along with producing a GAB news bulletin (2009) but has not been sustained. In the past the Association ordered wood goods (hive & hive products) and equipment in mass, stored it in a container and sold it to beekeepers as needed. A small profit was made from resale of honey and goods. On April 1, 2011 became a registered incorporated body.

Currently and for the past 5 years GAB has faced many challenges. First the lack of subvention from the Ministry of Agriculture and the increase of tariffs on imports has made purchasing a bulk order of goods nearly impossible. In this time many beekeepers have started to import goods themselves (typically from Trinidad) or make them on the island.

Since 2010, there has been a change of policy on the import of ‘breeder queens’ from outside of the island. This is still a challenge that is a topic of conversation between GAB and MoA presently and as of October 2015 200+ queens have been purchased and brought in via GAB and MoA and purchased by beekeepers on the island.
Peace Corps was contacted and the Association requested a response volunteer to help specifically to develop the beekeeping industry in Grenada and expand membership to maximize potential. Specifically by identifying good genetic material, training 20 in an intro to beekeeping course, train 10 trainers in advance queen-rearing for Trainer of Trainer model, produce 500 queens for local beekeepers and region, develop a queen rearing manual specific to Grenada.
Ministry of Agriculture, F. and F. (2015). 2010-2011 Annual Agriculture Review Grenada W.I. St. George’s Grenada: Ministry of Agriculture.

Grenada Association of Beekeepers logo
Focus of work Activities
With financial and political challenges and lack of resources faced by the association the volunteer has identified these potential short term goals:
Collaborate with beekeepers on best practices, challenges, solutions, goals and gaining feedback throughout the process
Creating ongoing training programming for beekeepers, public and partnering shareholders’ staff
Identifying good genetic stock for queen rearing to increase honey production and training of trainers to do so as well
Assist in increasing overall knowledge of bees, nectar, propolis and pollen sources
Assist in developing beekeeping industry in Grenada and assist in increasing public knowledge of the industry.

Major Accomplishments
From the time I have arrived on island April 16, 1st day of work was April 20th until October 31st (6 months of service) I have accomplished:

  • Met personally with 43 beekeepers/interested people in beekeeping21 of those visited their apiary/bee yard
    15 of the visited apiaries we worked the bees that day
  • Met 12 extension officers, ministry officials, St. George University contacts, other individuals that work in the agriculture industry
  • Met the Grenada Association of Beekeepers Executive Board along with the Chief Veterinary Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Followed up with Ministry of Agriculture Chief Veterinary Office (via email) specifically for filling out paperwork on Grenada clearance for honey to be accepted into the U.K. for beekeepers to enter London Honey Show October 29-31st 2015.

  • Had check-in meeting with Peace Corps Associate Country Program Director, current and previous Grenada Association of Beekeepers' President to put 2 months of planning in place.
  • Met with Peace Corps Associate Country Program Director, 2 Executive Board members and previous Association President to discuss and clarify overall plan with Response volunteer as it pertains to training. Volunteer is to take the lead and consult with Association as needed.
Group of attendees of the Queen Rearing Course at St. George's University at the Bee College

  • Attended the 4 day St. George’s University Bee College in St. George's
  • Attended GAB membership meetings (3 total) and The Goat Dairy board meeting & On-Farm Workshop
  • Discussed, researched and wrote Response Counterpart Workshop proposal with assistance of my Associate Country Program Director fellow Response volunteers and 27-month volunteer
The Goat Dairy Project at Belmont Estate

Training and Courses:
  • Met, followed up and wrote proposal with 4-H Extension liaison for St. Andrew’s, on term-long project for 12-16 year olds on pollinators, habitat and conservation Emailed Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) or Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) certification about current and past trainings held in regard to beekeeping (none as of lately nor in the near future)
  • Followed up on status of reply from T.A. Marryshow Community College on access to Mirabeau farm school and course syllabus for Apiculture they teach
  • Created overarching syllabus with 10 courses that I thought would be beneficial to beekeepers and potential beekeepers in Grenada and shared it with the membership
  • Followed up with past teachers of beekeeping courses on the island
  • Drafted “Introduction to Successful Beekeeping: What you need to get started” outline, wrote PowerPoint with overview of GAB membership
  • Finalized power point presentation and needed resources for Intro class, further reviewed and added classes to overall syllabus for beekeeping classes
  • Identified interested people that would be interested in the beekeeping class and make record of their contact information. Collaborated to identify potential stakeholders and community partners to communicate via posted letters in the next week or two about the details on the classes being held
  • Met and planned additional meetings, trainings and brainstormed agenda with the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Agent for Beekeeping; presented Introduction to Beekeeping course and additional course syllabus to membership meeting
  • Met with  Ministry of Agriculture Extension Agent for Beekeeping and Chief Veterinary Officer  to discuss ideas planned for moving forward with trainings. Letter was drafted and sent to Principal at T.A. Marryshow Community College for access and use of Mirabeau Farm School
  • Set time, dates and place for Introduction to Beekeeping class, sent letters to potential stakeholders and community partners about details of class with assistance of Ministry of Agricultural Extension Agent and Office in Grenville. 
Flyer for 'Introduction to Successful Beekeeping: Getting Started in Beekeeping"
  • Contacted 20 interested people that expressed interest in the beekeeping class via phone, email and in persn
  • Emailed or whatapps’ed another 20 partnering individuals, 16 Peace Corps volunteers & staff, 16 NGO’s and partnering institutions, 25 attendees of the Bee College to alert and invite them to the class.
  • Taught class to 7 people and have another 14 signed up for another class held in October for total of 21 for 2 classes.
Flyer for "Pest, Disease and Pest Management: Identification and Understanding"
    • Planned 2nd class on Pest, Disease and Pest Management with Beekeeping Extension Agent and SGU Lab Researcher to be held in October
    • Taught Pest, Disease and Pest Management class to 3 beekeepers, hope to offer this again in late November and late January.

    Additional Community Partners:
    • Attended GRENED meeting to better understand community need and how organization assists youths in the community
    • Partnered with Belmont Estate to create simple business and action plan for bees to be established on the estate, including training of trainer for estate to also train staff on better understanding and best practices (ongoing 2 pg word document emailed)
    • Attended Saint Andrews Development Organization (SADO) planning meeting for Rainbow City event in Grenville happening before Carnival to assist beekeepers in preparing for possibly exhibiting
    • Met with Grand Bras Farms to discuss pollination benefits to the farm and best practices having bees on the property
    Grand Bras Farm, a historic estate that is now being used for short crop and vegetable production
    Research, Networking and Organizing
    • Drafted project plan for self-started projects, events, and notable dates
    • Continued researching and compiling world honey, pollen, and propolis plant sources to create Caribbean and Grenada specific plant lists
    • Wrote, applied and my abstract was accepted for Apimondia, an international beekeeping conference being held in Seoul, Korea September 15-20, 2015
    • Networked with many people on the island along with inquiring about resources on the island for beekeepers and the association

    Potential Projects for Rest of Service
    • Plan and draft “Nectar, Pollen and Propolis Plant Sources’ outline, write PowerPoint, layout and create plant identification manual for Grenada specific plants (PowerPoint, list of resources, images and people; small ¼ page booklet identification manual on plants) Tentatively set for late January and start mentioning it to potential attendees mid-late December
    • Offer ‘Intro to Successful Beekeeping’ and ‘Pest, Disease and Integrated Pest Management’ courses on ad-hoc basis in January-March.
    • Plan and draft “Beekeeping Basics:1st year of Beekeeping in Grenada’ outline, write PowerPoint, layout and source apiary for hands on examples for class (PowerPoint, list of resources, images and people; apiary; protective gear for attendees) Tentatively set for February and start mentioning it to potential attendees January
    • Plan and draft “Bee and Hive Anatomy’ outline, write PowerPoint, source needed items for bee dissection-pinning boards, microscopes, tweezers (PowerPoint, list of resources, images and people; apiary; protective gear for attendees) Tentatively set for March and start mentioning it to potential attendees February.
    • Continue attending GAB membership meetings as needed; following up and assisting beekeepers with questions and work alongside with them when possible in their apiaries.
    • Continue communicating with GAB membership, Grenada MoA & extension officers, beekeepers and interested people, partnering organizations who have shown interest in beekeeping (i.e. 4-H, Belmont Estate, Grand Bras) and any others who ask assistance of information.
    • Continue to network and research potential contacts on and outside of Grenada for information, best practices and further information on techniques, plants, and resources.
    • Continue to offer support, solicit feedback and constructive criticism from work partners, class attendees and Peace Corps staff and volunteers. 

    Wednesday, November 4, 2015

    A request

    So my birthday is in a month (December), I have no clue what I'm going to do yet for it, but I would like to make a request for letters, cards  (simple handwritten doesn't need to be crazy), postcards and 3" x 5" photos (holiday photos!! or just fun ones) sent to me here on the island. I love getting mail! Feel free to have people traveling send me ones to-I love seeing new places!

    Send them to:
    Megan Wannarka 
    P.O. Box 766
    St. George's, West Indies