St. Lucia: Blood is Thicker than the Water

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St. Lucia: Blood is Thicker than the Water

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For students working with @PCIMediaImpact in St. Lucia, Blood is Thicker than Water:
Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 4:01pm


 In May 2011, Media Impact announced the official launch of its Entertainment-Education Fellows program established in association with the Social Justice Initiative in the Department of Communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. This program aims to provide communications students with hands-on experience while assisting in the development and implementation of Entertainment-Education programs.

To date, three students have participated in the program: Hilary Trudell, Sarah Leer and Judy Watts. In the following story, Judy and Sarah share their experience living and working in St. Lucia to support Media Impact’s My Island – My Community program.


Upon moving into our humble abode in Castries, St. Lucia, Sarah and I discovered a bucket of water in our kitchen. The conversation went something like this:
Judy: What’s that bucket of water for?
Sarah: Maybe we’re supposed to drink out of it.
Judy: I’m not drinking out of a bucket of water.
Sarah: I don’t know.
Judy: What if it’s a Boy Scout type of thing? Like in case there’s a fire we have a bucket of water.
We, Judy Watts and Sarah Leer, as part of the curriculum of the Clinton School of Public Service embarked upon an international public service project in the summer of 2010. Our professor, Dr. Arvind Singhal (who, incidentally, is also a board member of Member Impact) connected us to the organization in an effort to assist us in finding a field service project. Executive Director, Sean Southey, agreed to take on two Clinton School students to work on the My Island - My Community project that was just beginning in St. Lucia. Neither Sarah nor I had ever been to St. Lucia, and coming from Little Rock, Arkansas never dealt with a water shortage quite this extreme. Where we’re from, water shortages meant watching how much water was used to take care of lawns. Suddenly, the stark reality of water as a commodity hit us.
We discovered what the bucket of water was actually intended for when we woke up to find out we didn’t have any water. No drop of water to brush our teeth, take a shower, or drink. Suddenly the reality of the situation and why we were in St. Lucia to begin with – to work on an Entertainment-Education program that addresses climate change in the Eastern Caribbean – struck a chord. It was as if we had read the disastrous effects of climate change and literally witnessed it firsthand the following day. We eventually decided to utilize the bucket of water, even though we had resisted it the first night.
When our supervisor, Program Manager, Alleyne Regis picked us up for the conference that morning, we told him there was no water in our house. He was lucky to have water on his part of the island.  Alleyne explained that the Caribbean just got out of the worst drought it had ever experienced. It was illegal for St. Lucians to even water their plants, and it's common for all areas of St. Lucia to periodically have water outages. When this happens people collect water in buckets and keep it in their kitchen. 
There was a workshop that kicked off the My Island - My Community initiative in April of 2010. During the workshop we learned a few interesting things about how climate change is affecting the Caribbean. Basically, in some places there is less rainfall, while in other places there is more rainfall. When an ecosystem is accustomed to a certain amount of rainfall, changing this can cause drastic results. And the impacts are complex. For example, the Caribbean has experienced an increase in hotter days and hotter nights, allowing for more mosquitoes. And since there are more mosquitoes, there are more cases of dengue and yellow fever.
Sarah and I spent the remainder of the summer meeting with various partners for My Island – My Community and conducting site visits to the landfill, OECS offices, a recycling vendor, the solid waste office and an elementary school. While Sarah worked on crafting programs for youth initiatives, including theater guides, lesson plans, and interactive games, I devised ways for the program partners to conduct community-based monitoring and evaluation. We learned a lot during our summer spent in the tranquil, idyllic seaside spots of St. Lucia. This learning was then verified with partners and incorporated into the overall program curriculum. 
Sustainability is not just about preserving the coral reefs and sandy beaches we so much enjoy, but it’s as much about extending grace to our neighbors. If you think climate change doesn’t have a face or a voice, then you are mistaken. Sarah and I saw the faces and voices that are directly affected by climate change in St. Lucia, and it is everyone from the child playing in the street on warm weekend afternoon to the elderly person who sits next to you on the bus to the young man who gives tours on the island to support himself. 
When we heard the news about the destruction Hurricane Tomas left on the island from Little Rock, we wanted nothing more but to offer a helping hand. Knowing that water could be even scarcer and food difficult to find, Sarah and I led a resources drive to benefit the people of St. Lucia. Now, almost a full-year after our summer spent in Lucia, when I look at a glass of water I think about where that water came from and how lucky I am that I can easily turn on a faucet and have clean water anytime I need it. 
Cheers to Media-Impact for 25 years of hard work all over the globe! On behalf of the people in St. Lucia and their friends in Little Rock, Arkansas, I hope Media Impact experiences another 25 years of stories, collaboration, and extending grace where it is needed most.

For 25 years, Media Impact has trained partners around the world to use Entertainment-Education to address critical social and environmental issues in their communities.  Entertainment-Education (E-E) incorporates vital information into entertaining media programs to simultaneously educate and amuse audiences. The non-profit organization has helped produce more than 100 such programs to address critical health and environmental issues and empower communities. To read more about this program, please visit our website.



Lindsey Wahlstrom
PCI-Media Impact
CATEGORY: Environment