by Nicole Duciaume, Regional Sponsorship Coordinator, ChildFund Americas
The cruise ship lumbers into port, parting the crystal blue waters. Every color of the rainbow is represented in the scattered hillside homes. The weather is perfect — mild 90s with the slightest of breeze tussling my hair. The palm trees sway, seemingly to the beat of calypso music in the distance.
I am in Kingstown, the Caribbean capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
No, this is not a tourist brochure; it’s the beautiful backdrop for a country with shocking economic disparity. Scenic and idyllic, St. Vincent is paradise to the thousands of tourists who pass through every year. But tucked away in the crevices and crannies of the hillside mansions is the St. Vincent I came to visit. Where the pavement ends, ChildFund’s work begins.
We have approximately 3,000 children enrolled in our programs in St. Vincent through our ChildFund Caribbean national office. These children represent families and entire communities that are fighting harsh realities, hoping to make a change in this generation and create a way forward for the next.
Reflecting on a recent community planning event where children and parents identify risks and resources, I asked a small group of children about their greatest concerns. One girl, with eyes downcast, whispered, “Drugs, violence, prostitution, rape and pregnancy.”
I was a bit taken aback that these answers came so quickly to a child 8 years of age. Her candid response provides a glimmer of insight into what her reality is and what she observes in her own family and community.
But then she said something even more powerful: “I want to find ways to make it better – to erase negatives and just have positives.”
Tomorrow: More on ChildFund’s work in St. Vincent.