One must always grab a hold of opportunities when they arise, particularly those with potentially life-changing merit. That was the general consensus of members of the Youth Emergency Action Committee (YEAC) at a recent Project engagement held at the Pastoral Centre in Marisule. Attending the event were students from the Saint Joseph’s Convent, Entrepot Secondary School and Bocage Secondary School.
Specially invited guests included Monsignor Patrick Anthony and Marcia Haywood, Regional Coordinator for CARITAS Antilles. In a spirited featured address Haywood underlined the ways YEAC continued to engage young people as leaders in a process of community risk reduction, training community members in disaster preparedness, mitigation, and management, as well as implementing hazard risk mitigation activities.
In her words their training entailed “more than just information, more than CPR, more than first aid”; it was about character development.
“That was the key, I think, to seeing the success that we had,” Haywood said. “I’m very proud to stand here and say we have a great team of young people, some of whom a lot of people didn’t believe in. I’d like to say to them that we believed in you. This is why we continue to do this project and many others throughout Saint Lucia, and other islands including Grenada and Jamaica.”
The YEAC project was first implemented in Saint Lucia in 2011 and since then has been extended year after year, according to Haywood, because of its continued level of success.
“We are actually working on an extension to 2018, so it’s really because of the fruits of hard work of our members,” she said. “Without dedication, without commitment, without believing in what you do in any aspect of life, whether it’s marriage, whether it’s your education, whatever you do, you need those tenets to make it work.”
As the students looked on Haywood talked about how YEAC had come into existence: a joint initiative with Catholic Relief Services, with support from USAID/OFDA and in partnership with CARITAS.
“We looked at where the gaps were,” she said, adding that the focus had been on unattached youth. “When you see the term, that’s what it means,” she added. “Youth who were not in any young group, with no particular affiliation. Young people that no one was really working with.”
Today, she said, the project was touching the lives of people who could positively impact the lives of others.
“You might be the recipient of assistance from one of these members, because they have been well trained,” she said. “Not just trained in the CPR, but in just being human.”
At this week’s engagement, Haywood reminded her audience that the youth were not just our future, but our present. At her turn on the podium, Angel Ernest, Project Promoter for YEAC expressed: “Our work is a labour of love; love of self, love of community, and love of country. It is my pleasure to work with all of these members who are devoted, selfless and remarkable.”
Plans for 2017 for the Committee include outreach programmes at local secondary schools, and other initiatives with a goal of increasing the participation of youth from around the island.