Friday, December 7, 2012

Work Can Be Fun! An Action-Packed Staff Trip to "The Land of Many Waters"

Meghan, Kelvin and Chrissy on their way to visit hydroponic
producers in Essequibo.
From October 7 - 15, 2012, the F2F field team in Guyana was privileged to be able to host our colleagues from F2F Headquarters (HQ) in Washington, DC. The visitors were Mrs. Meghan Olivier, Deputy Director of the F2F Program and Ms. Chrissy McCurdy, our Program Officer. For a long time, Chrissy had been affiliated with F2F activities in Guyana via e-mails, photographs and second-hand information from her teammates and volunteers, but this was going to be her first visit to the “Land of Many Waters”. Guyana Field Staff wanted to ensure that the visit was both meaningful in terms of HQ staff exposure to as wide a range of activities as possible and, at the same time, experiential in terms of exposure to various local cuisine and sight-seeing.

Meghan presenting a hydroponic production sign to
producer, Verna D'Aguiar.
Because the F2F program has had activities in 6 of Guyana’s 10 administrative regions, it was possible to achieve both of these objectives. In Georgetown and the nearby East Coast of Demerara, Meghan and Chrissy met with several local F2F collaborating or potential collaborating agencies. These included the Ministry of Agriculture, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, St. Stanislaus College Farm, and and the Guyana School of Agriculture. These visits helped to strengthen existing relationships as well as to solicit ideas on areas for future F2F technical assistance.

In addition, Field Staff had an opportunity to showcase some recent successes resulting largely from F2F volunteer inputs. We visited several hydroponic shadehouse vegetable producers in various regions, beekeepers, and beneficiaries of organizational strengthening training. These visits took us across the mighty Essequibo River – 21 miles wide at the mouth - ,up the black water Pomeroon River; across the Berbice River Floating Bridge, and on to the Eastern tip of Guyana to Crabwood Creek (where we met F2F intern, Tristan Mohabir's, grandmother) and Molsen Creek, where we showed them Suriname across the Corentyne River. To the South, we took the HQ team to the Soeskdyke Linden Highway (part of the Guyana-Brazil road link) where they met with beekeeper, Uncle Charlie, and shadehouse operator, Anna, and also explored the dugout bauxite mines and sandpits in Linden.
Sigmund McKenzie showing what we're all about:
Cultivating Change!
Ryan Nedd , Meghan, Kelvin Craig and Chrissy at the
Guyana/Suriname Ferry Station - Suriname is just across the
river!

Chrissy trying a freshly-picked guava
We in Guyana solemnly believe that all trips for F2F volunteers and staff must be experiential. So, in between the serious stuff, HQ had time to unwind and enjoy some Guyanese cuisine (cook-up rice, roti and curry, Guyanese fried rice, etc), fruits (star apple, West Indies cherry, golden apple, guava, etc), drinks (coconut water), and even a swim in the black water of Lake Mainstay. In fact, we counted at least 12 freshly picked fruits that Meghan and Chrissy tasted while here!

“In a coconut shell”, we here in Guyana would like to send many thanks to Program Director, Peggy Carlson, for organizing this visit. We were able to attend to a lot of serious matters while also laughing and having fun. Our local team enjoyed the entire week, which was very intense as there was a lot to do and see within a short period of time.

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