IMG_1667It is Sunday, and I will be leaving St. Lucia in a couple of days. I will leave the country but my heart will remain with the many homey St. Lucians who have welcomed me as if I was part of their family. For all this I am grateful, and will cherish them as dear friends. I have made many new friends who will always be close to my heart.

For the past couple of months I have been busy working as hard as possible with little time to blog. Neil asked me “are you happy Zimm?” after we had the media this past Wednesday. I was happy, we got the media, an important component of the project to spread the word. Most importantly, students, farmers, facilitators, Fair trade, IWCA, Niel and I were interviewed. We also went to one of the farmers’ homes to get footage of where we planted trees. The reporter told us that the video will be played on the national network several times once they edit it. This will be possible in a couple of weeks.

Through this publicity, one of the objectives of the project have been met. The river is being stabilized, farmers are engaging and embracing the project, the youth are happy to have participated. A lot was achieved, but I can still see that more continuous work has to be done. The survival of the trees is important, and success can only be achieved in the long run. It is a race that has to be continued to preserve soil, protect water resources, and ensure the economic and social health of people in the Valley.

We purchased 500 more trees so that farmers can continue planting trees after we leave. Fair trade will need to meet its requirements of involvement with the community and preserving the environment. But the farmers that are non-fair trade also need to be involved. How will this be achieved is and important question. We are confident that the project and the initiative taken by the valley residents will serve as an example and will be spread through the country.

For our part, we are leaving, but the students are willing to have a continuous involvement in the project. We discussed the formation of an environmental youth group, and most of them seemed excited. Their first activity will be a beach clean up, which is a starting point to get the group running. Some of the facilitators have shown to have the leadership skills and will hopefully be involved with the students to help them get organized. Integrating Watershed and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) has asked for the membership of one of the facilitators in their committee to have a youth representative.

St. Lucia Projects for Peace may help to wake up the minds of the many in the valley about their environment, and the project is only gaining momentum now. The environment has to become a priority for the valley. There is a lot to do, and we need to realize this before it is too late.