The people of Laborie and surrounding communities are expected to benefit tremendously from the opening of a new arts and craft centre in the village last Friday.
The arts and craft centre named the “Papèl at Rudy John Beach” in reference to the reef it overlooks, was funded jointly by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the Government of Saint Lucia, under the CDB’s BNTF 5th Programme at a total cost of 1.3M$EC.
The ceremony to officially hand over the facility to the people of Laborie began at 3:30pm, with a rendition of the National Anthem by the Laborie Steel Pan Project and prayer to invoke God’s blessings.
Special invited guest at the ceremony were Alva Batiste, MP for Laborie; Lenard Montoute, Minister for Social Transformation; Mr Samuel Maxwell, Operation Officer of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); Mr Allison Mathurin Deputy Director of the St Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF). Also in attendance were Mr Augustine Dominique, the president of the Laborie Development Foundation (LDF); Representatives of the Anse Kawet Crafters, and an appreciative crowd from Laborie.
Mrs Avis Louisy-James of the Anse Kawet Crafters of Laborie made the welcome remarks and stated her deep pleasure over the implementation of the arts and crafts centre.
“This is really a dream come true for us,” said Mrs Louisy-James.
She noted the people of Laborie will be able to eventually sell their art and craft after many years of discussions, negotiations and even moments of frustration.
Mr Augustine Dominique of the Laborie Development Foundation also expressed joy over the successful implementation and the formal handing over of the Centre. He indicated that the project was conceptualised after a period of intense community dialogue that resulted in the establishment of the Laborie Development Foundation.
“The product that is being handed over today is the result of extensive dialogue and discussion between community partners; namely the SSDF, Anse Kawet Crafters, Laborie Development Foundation,” said Augustine.
Augustine also pointed out that throughout the projects life cycle, the LDF had been true to its role of co-coordinating, facilitating and being the catalyst for social and economic development in the community since its establishment in 2002.
Mr Dominique stated that the centre had great social and economic potential benefits for Laborie. It was strategically located and could serve as an entry and exit gateway to Laborie Village serving as a vital information centre; it offered visitors to Laborie accompanying services such as the occasional exhibitions, training, and souvenirs in the form of authentic locally made craft; visitors to the centre could also bathe on one of the most natural, safe and relaxing beaches on our island; and that the centre provided opportunities for livelihood creation through the maximization of the creative potential of local craftsmen and women.
Minister of Social transformation Lenard Montoute expressed pleasure over the collaboration efforts of the St Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF) and the Laborie Development Foundation in successfully implementing the project on the local level. He said project such as “Papèl at Rudy John Beach” were initiatives that his government sought to undertake throughout the island in its drive to reduce poverty and improve the social and economic well being.
Alva Baptiste, MP for Laborie hinted some concerned about the plan which was eventually adopted for the project but expressed pleasure that it was built in the French colonial architectural style exhibited in most of the old buildings in the Laborie Village.
“I welcome the Social and economic benefits the opening of this new facility will bring to the people of Laborie,” said Mr Baptiste.
Baptiste also declared that the opening of the centre was part of a broad tourism development plan for Laborie. He indicated the plan would include an expansion of the already instituted Laborie experience tour, and the Morne Le Blanc Viewing Platform as well as the development of a Heritage Tourism Tour at a waterfall in the community of Mac on the Laborie countryside.
Operation Officer for the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Mr Samuel Maxell who also represented CIDA at the handing over ceremony said he was extremely pleased to be associated with the project, since poverty alleviation in the Caribbean was one of the main goals of his organization. He said the Basic Need Trust Fund (BNTS) Programme, launched about 30 years ago is the flagship of CDC’s poverty reduction initiative.
“Over the five phases, the BNTS has developed special mechanisms to target poor communities more effectively, increase local government and community participation, strengthen capacity related to social infrastructure in the region, provide skill training and employment to beneficiaries where feasible and improve the efficiency of its implementation process and systems,” said Samuel.
During the brief ceremony there were also cultural performances by the Laborie Cultural Group and interlude of music by the Laborie Steel Pan Project.
The cutting of the ribbon to mark the formal opening of the “Papèl at Rudy John Beach” was done by Social Transformation Minister Lenard Montoute.