World Water Day salute!

Water.  We all require it for life.  We all need CLEAN water and LOTS of it!  Caribbean SEA and TenneSEA work at the grassroots level to empower kids and their communities to get clean water.  The Flint, Michigan water disaster was a wake up call for many to realize that you cannot take your water for granted.  The changing precipitation patterns throughout the Caribbean have led to water scarcity or tremendous flooding events.  Atlanta, Georgia faces water shortages not just because of increases in water use, but also because of changing precipitation patterns.  We CANNOT take our water for granted.

Today, we salute three water champions : Valerie Constantin-Regis, Naomi Abraham Moon, and Randal Hale.

Valerie is a teacher of arts, theater, and Science to kids at Dennery Primary School in St. Lucia.  Her LORAX Club knows all about protecting their water in Dennery and where they should and should NOT get into the rivers or ocean.  She is an amazing, energetic, indomitable spirit who loves her community and all of her kids!  We need more Valerie’s in our world! Thank you for being our community Water Champion!

Randal and Naomi work behind the scenes with SEA to upgrade the website, map our data, create a watershed/ ocean monitoring mobile App, and push me to do important web based stuff I would rather ignore!  Randal is editing our WaterWatch mobile App through Fulcrum.  For his full time job, he does all sorts of GIS work, so he maps our water quality data as well.   Naomi’s work on our website is nothing short of spectacular.  Her vision, creativity and mad tech skills have changed the way the world sees us and it’s incredibly positive!  Even better,  they are the techies that make you laugh and teach you so much along the way. We are so much stronger because of their work and their influence.  Thank you for being our water champions through technology!

Valerie and her boys!

Randy leads a fossil hunt!

Naomi escaped her computer!

 

Rainforest Camp!

YAY! We survived!! Call me crazy, but I love Rainforest Camp!

 

This was my second time at the camp near the Des Cartier trail in St. Lucia (and Caribbean SEA’s 5th year of camp!) and even though by the end I was sleep deprived, covered in mosquito bites and extremely dirty, I would go back right now! You know, I am not a big fan of teenagers (and this year, camp was for 11-15 year olds) because they never really want to actually DO anything… They lose that enthusiasm that younger kids have. I think that they (think they) would much rather prefer just sitting around the camp talking to the other kids or better yet, eating, but once you get them to participate, it is amazing! For example, on Wednesday night, our favorite entomologist and counselor, Brendan, hooked up a light trap to attract bugs and I’m sure you can imagine the moans and groans we heard when the kids heard that they would have to look for bugs instead of planning their mushing attack plans, but once we gave them their containers and put them in front of that light, they didn’t want to stop! They wanted to know what every bug was and kept asking for bug containers during the rest of the camp so that they could look at the bugs they would find!
Our focus this year was Reforestation – the campsite was actually affected by multiple landslides after the hurricane and so it was a perfect area to plant trees that we gathered from another nearby trail. We also took the kids to snorkel at beautiful Anse Chastanet where we could show what a healthy reef looks like compared to those that have been smothered in sediment that flows from the rivers everytime it rains. And trust me, we had plenty of rain while we were there! The sad thing, although it made for a great teaching tool, the rivers surrounding our camp (and therefore our water, although our source is higher up on the mountain) were running orange because of all the sedimentation… but you know, that’s why we planted trees! and the Forestry Department of Saint Lucia has been preparing for a major islandwide reforestation day!
For even more fun, as part of our 5 year celebration, we got to go ziplining in Dennery! It was so much fun! We had some kids who were reluctant but once you got them on the line – WEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

I have pictures loaded and on Facebook, and as soon as I get to a steady enough internet signal I can add them on here… (We’ll talk about what MaryBeth and I are doing right now on another post I think!). Until then, ciao mis amigos!

 

 

Preparing for Rainforest Camp

This coming Monday is the start of our 5th annual Rainforest Camp in St. Lucia! We will be camping overnight for a week in the rainforest area near Micoud, St. Lucia with about 50 kids, from 11 to 15 years of age! And on behalf of Mary Beth, our good friend Brendan and all the other counselors, can I just say… YIKES! Haha! Actually, we are all really really excited… There is something so amazingly fun about being out in nature without cell phone signal and electricity, under the stars and out with all the whistling frogs, tarantulas and oooohhh the beautiful St. Lucian parrots that fly over in the morning… We drink cocoa tea (like a spiced hot chocolate) and eat bakes (a kind of fried or grilled dough thing), salt fish, green figs and bread fruit, all so lovingly prepared by our head chef Mr. Mathurin and his team of whichever group of campers we’ve assigned to that particular meal. The camp is, of course, focused on a particular environmental topic – this year, due to the large impact of Hurricane Tomas in November, we will focus on reforestation and it’s role in water quality.  We went shopping for supplies today and even had a little pre-camp fun with some of our kids from the Marigot Bay community while planning, water testing, jumping off of rocks and snorkeling.

Although it’s not easy to say how well camp will go, I am so extremely excited and optimistic about our plans for the next week! But ask me how much I like Rainforest Camp next Saturday… my opinion may completely change!

How do you measure success?

This is my second summer in Saint Lucia and while it doesn’t actually surprise me that pretty much everyone can spot Mary Beth and me from a mile away, I always get a kick out of hearing the kids yell at us while we’re on the road – “MARYBETH! MARYBETH! When is camp!?!”

Our goal here is to work with the communities, especially the kids, and get them excited about their environment.  At Rainforest Camp, which is the last week in July, we take them to various place on the island (including the rainforest obviously, but also to see the reefs and mangroves) that they otherwise would probably not be able to visit.  We show them why they should appreciate and respect their environment, then teach them the means to do so. Since we have kids from communities from all over the island, we also have them meet with their community groups to come up with ideas to keep the kids active throughout the year.  And this year, I am actually moving to Saint Lucia to help them implement these ideas! (Although some of the groups have been doing a great job on their own!)

So we have excited kids, we have great community leaders, and hopefully I will be able to provide some extra resources for all of them in the next coming year.  It sounds to me like it’s gonna be a pretty successful year for Caribbean SEA!