Richmond Vale Academy, Volunteer Organization in the Caribbean
Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) located in the beautiful country of St Vincent and the Grenadines, dedicated to create a sustainable future through ecological farming, environmental projects and volunteer programs.
The volunteer experience at RVA
Joining one of our programs will equip you with knowledge; skills, understanding and experiences to better protect our precious planet. Our current system has caused Global Warming which has created temperatures higher than ever before in human history, which again has created climate change disasters with millions of people suffering; along with an acidic ocean, loss of biodiversity and a toxic planet.
Our school includes people of all ages and nationalities and we walk the talk! We are a centre for sustainability in the Caribbean and at our campus we have renewable energy, rain water harvesting systems and we are moving towards producing our own food with free range chickens and sheep, agro-forestry and Permaculture gardening.
What volunteering is about with us?
- Come together organizing in Teams, Trios and Common Meetings.
- Learn, study, discuss and contemplate big issues in the world, and as a team create possible solutions.
- Learn to work by producing homegrown food in our ecological garden farm.
- Hands out of the pocket, and do what is needed.
- Teachers and students work together, learning from each other.
- Create an understanding of people with different traditions, mindsets, and backgrounds and come to a consensus on matters at hand.
- Work together with people in developing countries and experience their living conditions.
About the projects you will take part in
In the 6 months Climate Activism program you work with one of the following projects.
Ecological Home Gardens: Creating small home gardens with families all over St Vincent using permaculture design principles.
Planting Mangroves: Securing the coastline of St Vincent by planting mangroves in 6 villages with community groups, parallel with holding workshops.
In the 10 months Community Development program you work with projects in the Caribbean or in Africa, ranging from small scale farming, supporting healthy living and teaching in schools.
St Vincent and the Grenadines and its people
St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a friendly and welcoming Caribbean Island nation.
SVG consists of 32 islands and cays of which 8 are inhabited and 1 is a nature resort. St Vincent is the biggest island with an active volcano “La Soufriere”. The other islands called the Grenadines are Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mauyreau, Union, Palm and Petit St Vincent.
The languages spoken are English and Creole. The Climate is Tropical with an average temperature of 28 Celsius/82 Fahrenheit. The country has a rainy season from June till November even though weather patterns have changed caused by Global Warming and Climate Change.
Testimonials from the Students
Africa changed my life. The difference in culture, food, music, living lifestyles and even social practices. The exposure I got still remains some of the fondest memories. Of course, this journey had to start somewhere, and mine started at Richmond Vale with the most diverse team I’ve ever worked with even to this day! My journey started in 2009, but the friendships, skills, knowledge and memories remain with me ever since.
Before I arrived to Mozambique, I always had the idea that I was poor, but in Africa I learned that wealth is not in material things. I have seen families eating from one plate and still invite their neighbors to join them for a meal. I have learned not to be a prisoner of the capitalist world that we are living in. The time that I stayed in Africa is very memorable and it taught me to be a humanitarian.
I spent 6 months of my programme in Ecuador, which was incredibly challenging due to the language barrier and very different life style, but somehow despite all the challenges I made it through and for me that was an incredible achievement. Living and working abroad really shows you the similarities between people and it inspired me to be the best person that I can be
My decision to become a volunteer came after I started learning about climate change and the effects it has on the world, I wanted to start taking action towards the elevation of the effects of climate change. I also wanted to take on a new challenge that would completely take me out of my comfort zone.
During my time at RVA, and also during my volunteer work in Ecuador, I’ve learned and seen many things which opened my eyes. When I actually met the people in the field I’ve realized that the best way to do something for them is to go out there and do things with them and teach them how they can do it by themselves.
I met with a lot of people who became really important to me… they will always be in my heart. The best moment was to create an ecologic playground in Cangonama, Ecuador; it was the best thing I did in my life, not just for the playground itself, but because of the people, the work, the organizing part of it, it made me another person…
I have worked for a sailing organization all my life, doing youth projects. I’d say most of the skills I got from the program were soft skills. I’ve learned how to better deal with people, how to organize my workday, how to communicate with my international coworkers. But most importantly, I’ve gained a different outlook at life. I am going to work part-time soon, because I’ve realized there are other more important things in life.
The most important thing I gained from this program was recognizing opportunities when they come along, as well as knowing how to find them. There is more than one way of doing something. The best way won’t always be obvious and often times you have to pave the way. Real Practical skills through: Gardening, Using a Machete, Speaking Spanish, Organizing events and group actions, harvesting food, travel skills of all kinds.
I learned to become a Gardener in 2 ways – first on the 6 months program making Home Gardens with families using Permaculture design and now as a Coral Reef Gardener with the Coral Reef Restoration project at RVA.
I learned about Global Warming and Climate Change and how it is bad for us and the health of the Earth we live in. I have grown a lot since I joined, thanks to RVA.
I’m working as an engineer in Europe and during my time as a volunteer I got better in my communication skills and English. I think the most important skills I got were how to teamwork with people from very different backgrounds and cultures with tolerance and respect.
The skills I obtained through RVA helped me to be qualified and accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Agriculture Extension Program in Ghana. Those skills include permaculture garden design, immersing myself into a new culture, working with locals, teamwork, and taking a step back from my life to try and understand and accept new surroundings and people. I believe these skills are pertinent for any kind of future job one may apply for.
Along the programme I immersed more and more into sustainable agriculture. Because of my experience in the Caribbean, I pursued a PDC in France and was able to achieve a job position with the local government of my hometown, where we promoted organic farming and in this way recovering degraded soil.
After I finished school, I had no idea what to do next. Returning from SVG I knew I wanted to do something ecological/environmental, maybe something with renewable energy…So I’m studying environmental engineering and management and I really enjoy it. I gained so many new skills in SVG, there is no way I could list them all, but I think the one with the most impact on my life is planting and farming knowledge.
I’m now more aware of the past, the present and the future and what has to be done so that the world can bloom again. By dealing with situations in the simplest way has taught me, that you don’t have to be angry, but better to allow the reality of the world to sink in. This way we can focus on the main issues and not argue, but rather unite and cooperate to protect our planet – our home.
During the programme, I learned to listen, observe, debate, practice my patience and tolerance. The greatest challenge all the time, getting out of our selves and our egoism to try to do something common with people from completely different points of view, culture, language, etc. I got to know people who just gave the best of themselves at all times!
I have just started an EU programme in Renewable Energy. Richmond Vale gave me a global perspective of many environmental issues, which helped both with my application and the work I’m now doing. It also taught me to work with people from all around the world and to unite over common goals.
PROJECTS AT RICHMOND VALE ACADEMY
RVA secures involvement in projects that have a long term impact, for the planet as well as for the people involved.
Therefor, choosing a program with RVA, you will be part of some of the most impactful projects there are right now!