UNDP Welcomes the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders Dialogue along with CCELD President, HRH Princess AnneNov 24, 2015
Eleven participants of the Caribbean Canada Emerging Leaders dialogue (CCELD) kicked off their study tour to Barbados with a visit to the United Nations House for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on 28th September. The participants engaged in discussions with UN Resident Coordinator, Stephen O’Malley on the role of the United Nations in the region. “Caribbean countries place high value in the UN and while we may not have the money, they gain support in policies,” he said. His discussion focused on bridging the gap between government and civil society, supporting leadership transference, determining project success and tackling mental health in poor communities.
On the second day of their visit, the President of CCELD, HRH Princess Royal, Princess Anne joined the participants on the tour to the River of Life Organic Farm (ROLF) initiated by the local group, the River of Life Farm. With support from the Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the farm utilises a rehabilitative approach for mental health patients while applying best practices of sustainable agriculture to reduce land degradation. It offers housing and training opportunities to persons with physical and mental health needs and provides respite for those who find themselves neglected by society and are in need of housing. This programme also seeks to identify opportunities for vulnerable groups to gain skills needed to improve their prospects for employment.
Chairman of ROLF, Wasim Worrell, recalled the tour as a humbling experience. “At times when you’re working on a project, you’re uncertain how others value your work or even appreciate the challenges that you face,” he stated. “The CCELD visit meant a lot to us.”
Kerrie-Ann Worrell expressed similar concerns about the value of their work, noting that, “communities need help,” as she described the dismal situation experienced by the mental health community. She added, “We need to accept that differently abled persons can engage in work-based activities and also help to remove the stigma associated with mental and physical disabilities.”
Ms. Worrell indicated that the organisation aims to help vulnerable persons become productive working citizens through gaining skills in organic farming. To date, ten persons with mental health disabilities have benefitted from the programme; two of which have also started their own home gardening.
During the tour of the farm, Princess Royal spoke candidly about the project noting its usefulness and practical approach to meet the needs of those most vulnerable in society. She praised the members of ROLF for their unprecedented and cost effective approach to solve a real problem that confronted Barbados. Princess Ann also recalled taking a relative with emotional issues to the garden as an effective treatment.
CCELD is an initiative that brings together 120 influential and emerging leaders from the Caribbean and Canada to participate in a series of learning tours in varied cultures and communities. The theme for 2015 was ‘Growth Through Connections: Enabling Sustainable Progress’ which focused on allowing individuals to share and learn from each other and strengthen linkages and develop cross-cultural leadership skills.