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Fondes Amandes Gayap
Posted: Monday, March 7, 2005

Staff Article

From the 4th to 6th March the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP) hosted a Gayap (which means to lend hands) in St Ann's Fondes Amandes hills. This event was open to the public to gain knowledge about reforestation. On the first day, Kemba Jaramogi, a member of FACRP, was on hand to greet arriving participants that included school children essentially from Cascade Servol and the International School. Akilah Jaramogi, chairperson of FACRP, addressed the gathering and explained that this reforestation project was an ongoing effort since 1982. Reforestation work in this area is conducted by systematically re-converting grasslands back to forest. She further stated that FACRP is not just about trees but about people as well. People, she insisted, need to pay attention to the type of foods that they eat, the clothes that they wear, the way that they treat other people and the way that they dispose of garbage because all these things impact on the environment.

Dr. Carol James
Dr. Carol James - Photo: Christine

The featured speaker, Dr. Carol James, explained how loss of forest cover could result in erosion of topsoil that muddies watercourses. However, the work of FACRP has corrected this problem in Fondes Amandes so that the streams that flow from this area are once again clear. She emphasized the importance of cherishing the forest cover, especially in the northern range. Without this cover, landslips that occur during heavy rainfall can become more frequent which can be detrimental to people living on such slopes. Dr James also noted that deadly mudslides occurred in neighbouring Venezuela in recent years and in the mountainous north coast of Trinidad last year during the rainy season. Her outline about the importance of the stability of hillsides highlights the importance of the work that Akilah and FACRP do.

Gail Deckles
Gail Deckles (left) - Photo: Christine

Gail Deckles who represented one of the sponsors of this project, British Gas Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. (BGTT) also addressed the gathering and explained that her company is proud to be associated with such a worthy project. She noted that money alone cannot bring about the transformation that is occurring in the hills of Fondes Amandes. The efforts of Akilah and FACRP are proof of dedication and further validate the afore-mentioned proclamation that contributions cannot be easily quantified in terms of money. She also indicated that it would be good if this type of work can be duplicated in other areas of the country.

Cowin Collett, a young member of FACRP, addressed the gathering as well and gave a history of his involvement with the group. He explained that while being a member of FACRP he learnt drumming, computer literacy, leather craft and techniques in reforestation. He also received training as a fire guardian and a tour guide.

FACRP jerseys were presented to Gail Deckles and Dr. Carol James in appreciation for their support, while certificates of participation were presented to the participating schools. John Stollmeyer, a founding member of FACRP, presented the closing remarks. He thanked all participants for their attendance and invited them on an eco-tour up into the hills of Fondes Amandes. The FACRP drumming group was also present during the day's activities providing refreshing African drumming music.

The main activity between the 5th and 6th was the building of fire traces to prevent the spread of bush fires that may occur during this dry season. There were experienced members of FACRP on hand to demonstrate how fire traces are built. Volunteers followed these demonstrations and lent a hand or Gayap.

Persons participating in the Gayap were able to observe the progress of the reforestation project where an extensive area of forest has already been recovered. Adjacent areas are being prepared to allow this forest cover to spread. In addition, participants witnessed the birds and the other wild life that the tropical forest cover attracts. Undoubtedly, the wind blowing through the forest along with the singing of birds and chirping of other insects create an ambiance that is unforgettable. The melodious drumming that was provided by the members of FACRP added to the occasion and made it truly memorable.

Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation album:

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