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CARIBBEAN - St Vincent and the Grenadines

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Belmar: I'm impressed with Palau's culture

Herman Belmar was head teacher of the Bequia Anglican High School. He is now Industrial Arts, Science and Physical Education teacher at that same institution whose name has been changed to the Bequia Community High School. Belmar recently undertook an expedition, which carried him almost around the world.

He returned home from Palau in the Pacific via Manila, Los Angeles, New York, San Juan, Canouan, back to Barbados before arriving at the E.T. Joshua airport. Belmar was taking part in a UNESCO sponsored Inter-regional conference.

This was through a Small Islands Voice Youth Forum. Belmar is hoping to get other schools linked up to the programme in areas of sustainable development.

By 2004 the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States is scheduled to be reviewed. Belmar's attendance at Palau went some way to broadening St. Vincent and the Grenadines' participation in this exercise.

But while on his overseas stint, Belmar was impressed with the culture and tradition of Palau. He recalled passing November 23 twice, seeing the sun set twice that day.

Belmar carried the St. Vincent and the Grenadines flag on his Palau mission, and left a copy on that part of the globe. The combination of ancient and western cultures that exists on Palau was of particular significance to him.

He reflected on his trip as a 'worthwhile educational venture', one which opened 'avenues for learning about culture and understanding the people.'

His connection with the Small Islands Voice programme deepened his interest in the linkage with other small states. And he was of the view that 'the decision to work together as Small Island States means a lot'.

Palau has a population of 10,000 fortified with 5,000 migrant workers. A massive road building project there and relocation of the capital site provide employment for the migrant population.

Palau's underwater beauty was simply astounding to Belmar and he described the scenery as 'fascinating.'

Not surprising for a small island territory, fishing forms a vital part of the nation's economy. And along with farming, it supplies the basis of the nation's food supply. Cassava and dasheen are consumed with a passion. Their system of government has a touch of American influence, but the 16 Chiefs serve as traditional leaders even though there is a Senate. What Belmar found interesting is that it is a matriarchal society where the women virtually wield the strings of power. They whisper into the men's ears and the men speak on their behalf, was how Belmar pointed it out.

US currency is used on the streets, but stone money is regarded as the real wealth.

Belmar is keen in expanding the work in sustainable development and hopes to see the youth programme go beyond 2004. There are plans for combining the Youth Forum with a Sandwatch undertaking. This is an extra-curricular activity which entails the gathering of data surrounding what is happening with the country's shoreline.

Searchlight, 6 December 2002


To get involved, contact :


National Co-ordinator
Mr. Herman Belmar
Bequia Community High School
P. O. Box 75, Port Elizabeth,
Bequia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines
T: + 1 784 458 3385


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