Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some Positives

I wanted to refocus on the positives because anyone thinking about visiting absolutely should. I was surprised to hear that even Anguilla is struggling with crime - it's everywhere, but I would still visit there again too. These problems are fixable, and there are quite a few people on the island (and off) that are trying to do good things, so we'll acknowledge them too.

So first - the great stuff about St. Kitts. I wrote a post on this last year, so ask that you click on this link for a pleasant trip around the island. Don't forget about the "What to Do" Page that gives you a long list of things to see and activities available here. There's still a bunch of stuff we have yet to do and we've been here over 2 years. I've even created a map so you can find everything.

If that's not enough, I've got a calendar letting you know what's up.

I freely (literally) support any business or event and provide lots of tools to visitors and those on island so they can enjoy the same things we do; however, I am not an extension of the Tourism Board. If I don't like something, I'll say so. We can still love St. Kitts and dislike what's bad about it. I love Michael; I dislike his underwear on the floor. We can differentiate between the two and hopefully, everyone else can too.

Secondly, the reason there is still hope here is because there are some great people and organizations that are doing their best to help kids and their communities so it's not all doom and gloom going forward:

The St. Kitts Children's Home (Facebook Page)

Opened in 1950, the Christopher Children's Home, is a "volunteer organization which helps with emotional support for the children as well as to organize homework studies, outings and birthday celebrations to name just a small few. Up to 34 children and young people have been resident at the home at one time ranging in age from 4 years to 19 years. Children who are admitted to the home were mainly orphans, child abuse victims and neglected or abandoned children or those placed there by the Courts." This organization works in conjunction with the St Christopher Children's Home and Service League Association, Ltd. (Facebook Page), which has been around since 1935.

The government does have a Ministry of Sports that tries to engage kids in athletics as well (sportsdept@gmail.com ).

The St. Kitts Rotary Club/Rotaract Club of St. Kitts (ages 18-30)

Since 1969, these folks have been doing lots of community outreach - from care packages to the elderly to diabetes education to teens. They're all about civic mindedness and have had a hand in quite a few projects around St. Kitts.

The St. Kitts Sailing School (Facebook Page)

Since 2008, this group, teaches kids (and adults) how to sail, even providing summer camps and races. They operate out of Reggae Beach Water Sports (on Cockleshell).

This organization promotes the French language and culture on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. They have movies, camps, student cultural exchanges and trips to France or French territories for those who want to try out their newly learned lingo. They even provide scholarships for overseas study.

Island Xpressions (Facebook Page)/Positively Inclined (Facebook Page)

Positively Inclined focuses on promoting a positive way of life. Their website features videos, photos, people profiles, discussions, poetry, and articles about relationships, health, finance, education, sports, and more. Island Xpressions brings together poets, dancers, comedians, rappers, and anyone else who wants to share their artistic talents with others. They perform above the MaPau casino (in Sweet Lime) in Port Zante every 3rd Thursday of the month. The audience dresses up, people of all ages go, and it really is a positive experience.

The Learning & Empowerment through the Arts Program (Facebook Page)

LEAP "aims to be a centre for excellence and a creative oasis for the people of St. Kitts. Using primarily dance and other genres of the performing as well as the visual arts as instruments for learning and self-esteem building." These folks go grab kids all the way from pre-school and try to give them confidence simply by having fun. They've put on recitals and even had flash mob dances throughout the island.

Nevis Cycle & Triathlon Club

Since 1996, this club tries to keep kids (and adults) out of trouble by keeping them too out of breathe to do anything nasty. These guys don't kid around and pretty much put anyone to shame who competes against them in the local races.

Cheer Coaches who Care (Facebook Page)

CCCC SKN is trying to "provide a positive medium for adolescents to portray their expressive nature, via the art forms of dance and cheer while developing the appropriate skill sets necessary for safety and team development."

St. Kitts National Youth Parliament Association

Since 2001, SKNYBA gets youth involved in a mock parliament sittings that have tackled some serious issues and have had their voices sought out by the government agencies being debated.

The Change Centre - Started in 1993, this non-profit organization (NGO) in Nevis offers crisis counseling, legal advocacy support and related assistance to victims of domestic violence and child abuse, financial assistance to the economically disadvantaged, health and medical referrals, education and training.

We've also got Ade's Place - an organization that works on behalf of children with disabilities; the Special Olympics which "helps children with intellectual challenges develop their full potential through sport"; and the recently opened St Christopher Outreach Centre, a Christian-based soup kitchen for the "underprivileged, particularly the homeless and shut-ins who have no one to take care of them." Even the Peace Corps is here. Lots of successful businesses (local and foreign owned) and other countries donate their time, money, and goods to schools and charities too. Finally, add in the turtle organization, churches, the Hash House Harriers (Facebook), and even Boys on Bikes (an attempt to invite boys to participate in Carnival), and we can see that there are lots of people providing things to do and trying to guide this island's youth and their future. I'm sure there are many more and if I don't have you, sorry about that.

The village is trying to help. That leaves 2 other groups that need to step it up - the parents and the government. Too many parents here (and on other islands) are kids themselves. Too many others have too many kids, all by different fathers, none raising them. I asked a young guy with 7 kids about this once and he just shrugged and told me it was their "culture." They might want to rethink it a bit. The government needs to create and enforce better laws to keep kids in school (and deal with the drop-outs who have way too much time on their hands and no job prospects), step-up teacher credentials, stop releasing criminals back into the population unpunished, get some decent job-training programs (6 weeks does NOT make you a qualified electrician), and create real employment opportunities so maybe once these kids reach adulthood they won't simply become thugs or young, unwed mothers. It's not too late! Meanwhile, we still love what drew us here and hope the bad doesn't one day truly overshadow the good.