Students in St. Lucia Reap the Benefits from the Work of Their Hands

Hundreds of students across the mountainous Caribbean island of St. Lucia have planted, watered and nurtured a variety of fruit trees that will provide nutritious food and essential income for years to come.

“I am especially proud of this tree planting project in St. Lucia. The students there are getting hands-on experience, which will teach them how to cultivate life-sustaining products that will supplement their diets and their families’ income,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “There’s something very rewarding about planting your own fruit tree and later reaping the benefits of that labor. The fruit seems to taste sweeter.”

Last March, the charity worked with St. Lucia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Ambassador Ray Mou of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Taiwan’s Tse-Xin Organic Agriculture Foundation to take on the ambitious project of planting 10,000 fruit-bearing trees across the island within a year.  Inclement weather last summer slowed the planting process, but the remaining fruit trees will be planted within the next few weeks.

“The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund have been great partners of Food For The Poor. We are extremely grateful for their tremendous support throughout the years,” said Mahfood. “Because of their generosity this tree project in St. Lucia will take root and make an impactful contribution for generations.”

Sixty primary and secondary schools were involved with planting a variety of 25 fruit-bearing trees, which are grown locally and include some of the following, cocoa, coffee, soursop, sugar apple and citrus. Food For The Poor also completed 15 of the 20 greenhouses to help 20 schools, ranging from basic to secondary, with their individual feeding programs to provide additional nourishment for their students.

The multifaceted project, which initially targeted the southern region of St. Lucia, includes the establishment of 15 bee farms in various rural communities. Each farmer has received detailed training in honey production and bee farming equipment, such as hives, frames, beekeeping apparel, a smoker and hive tools. Beekeeping has the potential to generate a consistent source of income through the production of honey and hive byproducts, such as beeswax. The bees also will help to pollinate the fruit trees.

For more than three decades, Food For The Poor has been working to serve the people of St. Lucia, thanks to its in-country partnerships with the Caritas Antilles Chancery Offices and through its generous donors.

Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. Over the last 10 years, fundraising and other administrative costs averaged less than 5 percent of our expenses; more than 95 percent of all donations went directly to programs that help the poor.