Richmond Vale

Mervi, Finland: We have a responsibility to act

experience I am currently enrolled in the 18 month Fighting with the Poor program at the Richmond Vale Academy
I am currently enrolled in the 18 month "Fighting with the Poor" program at the Richmond Vale Academy. Before coming to the Caribbean, I had worked 8 years for the same company and felt that I wanted a change in my life. The office job was making me unhappy and left me lacking a sense of meaning. I didn't feel like I was contributing anything to th...
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Richmond Vale

Learn to Dive

jesper-diving-instructor-richmondvale-diving-center Jesper is a diving instructor at Richmond Vale Diving Center
When you join a program at Richmond Vale Academy it is possible to become a certified Diver. We started to engage in protection and conservation efforts in 2015 by investing in a Diving Center.  Shortly after we a trained instructor and the second instructor is in the process to being certified. We started to learn about the importance of mari...
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Richmond Vale

When we make an agreement, we owe it to ourselves to act on that

richmondvale-frames-owe-it-to-ourself
As part of joining Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) every student agrees to what we call 'The Frames'. This is the policy in which we agree to have no drugs and no alcohol as part of what we do here at the school. There are several reason for this from simple things such as reducing work ethic to having negative impact on the community.  For me one...
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Richmond Vale

Discovering the best of myself!

Discovering the best of myself!
Richmond Vale Academy is "Another Kind of School" where adults gather to become enlightened and inspired, gain knowledge and become ready for action. Our school operate as a base for personal enlightenment, for general and specific knowledge such as organic farming, global warming, climate change and as inspiration to take action and march into the Open Future. Participants join for 1, 6 or 18 months and all are involved with The St. Vincent Climate Compliance Conference 2012 - 2021. The Idea of The 10 year standing action conference is that teachers, students and the people of St. Vincent make our island more Climate Compliant. Climate Compliant means to be ready for climate change and become food, water and energy secure. Now this certainly is a challenge! With the first team in 2012, we started studying about global warming and climate change and realized the size of one of the big issues the world has ever faced. Programs in Another Kind of School combine studies, research and actions in different periods and Three hundred students from fifty different countries already joined the program. By now thousands of trees have been planted, tons of trash removed from beaches and streets, biogas introduced in family homes and right now we're in the middle of setting up 200 sustainable home gardens. By the end of 2018 the first 30 home...
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Richmond Vale

Permaculture Ethics and Principles (A life Example) - by Heather

Permaculture Ethics and Principles (A life Example) - by Heather
When I first heard about permaculture, I didn't really have a concept of what it was. I knew that it was something to do with the garden and producing your own food, I knew it was organic and based around sustainability, it was a little alternative and out there on the edge (Principle 11: Use Edges and Value the Marginal). In the last 10 days, I have been able to take part in a Permaculture Design course and what a journey it was! I now know that there is so much more to permaculture, it is not just gardening or agriculture, it is actually a way of life and a willingness to be aware of the life we are creating. The word Permaculture came from the concept of 'permanent' and 'agriculture' and focused around making our farming practices not only sustainable but regenerative. The code of ethics that is followed is care for the earth, care for the people and fair share. Care for the earth looks at everything from what we put into and take out of the land including all the plant and animal species and the most important thing, soil! When we talk about care for people we are thinking about the idea of everyone being treated with respect and care and love that they deserve. Fair share is in all things, if...
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Richmond Vale

Heather: What does it mean to be 'Poor'?

Heather: What does it mean to be 'Poor'?
I have been lucky enough in my life to have travelled and lived in many different countries and worked with many different organisations. I have seen poverty in every place that I have been, whether it was in my own country, Scotland or where I am living now in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. When I look at it, being poor has a different meaning dependent on where you are, but the feeling is the same no matter where you go. According to the United Nations, poverty is fundamentally 'a violation of human dignity'. It is, I feel the best way of explaining both how and why people are poor and how our perceptions of people can create poverty. [caption id="attachment_12129" align="alignleft" width="300"] Heather: Let's share all we have! When I was young, before my concept of rich and poor was formed, I went to school in an area that was considered to be 'poor' by Scottish standards. I saw children at school that had clothes with holes in them and who came to school in non-matching shoes. I didn't know what this meant until I was a lot older because as a child you don't appreciate the difference between you and your peers. When we create the difference, the us and them, that is when we take away a level of dignity. In Edinburgh, I...
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Richmond Vale

My 6 months in Ecuador by Ammon

My 6 months in Ecuador by Ammon
By Ammon  During the last six months working as Development Instructor in Ecuador we have worked with Humana Pueblo a Pueblo on many different projects as well as our own personal projects as Development Instructors. We are here as a team of 3 DIs from Richmond Vale Academy as part of the Fighting Shoulder to Shoulder with the Poor program. During my time here as a development instructor I have worked in the Community of Opoluca which is part of the district Paltas or Catacocha. I have worked with Humana to develop organic home gardens, compost production, and organic pesticides as well as working with large garden parcels and distributing saplings and seeds to the families in Opoluca. I myself have also given English classes as well as various other classes in the school as well as my personal project of building water filters to recycle water for use in gardens. In the Barrio of Opoluca we work with 40 families in total. Around 30 of the families have organic gardens and the rest of the families either raise pigs or chickens. I only work directly with the gardens. We focus on making the gardens an integral part of the family’s everyday life and everyday diet. I focused on teaching the basics of seeding, planting and maintaining a garden. The families have knowledge about plants because...
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Richmond Vale

Investigating the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary

Investigating the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary
My team recently went on an investigation trip to the Grenadine island of Bequia. While we were there we explored a number of areas that were relevant to our social and environmental interests. One of these places was the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. We had heard that the living conditions for the turtles at the sanctuary might be questionable. We decided to check it out and develop our own conclusions about the establishment’s legitimacy. What We Discovered   We drove all the way out to the Atlantic side of the island to visit the Turtle Sanctuary. This was an expensive cab right ($100 EC). We sort of already knew what to expect about the conditions of the sanctuary. These suspicions were indeed confirmed. We discovered the sanctuary is a privately owned, for-profit establishment. We, very regrettably, paid $60 EC for the 4 of us to enter. Inside we found a number of shallow concrete pools full of nothing but water and sea turtles. [caption id="attachment_10795" align="aligncenter" width="400"] The turtles are kept in shallow cement pools The sanctuary guide told us a story about how the sanctuary came to fruition. The owner’s father, who was in a shipwreck, was rescued by a fisherman who thought that the man was a flailing sea turtle. This inspired the owner’s fascination with the sea turtles and his desire to protect...
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Richmond Vale

Cleanup Day At The Petitbourdel Beach.

The two main sources of marine pollution are garbage and sewage water from industrial and commercial use in cities. Preventing Pollution. Johnny from Colombia. Through the cleanup day organized by Richmond Vale Academy in Petitbourdel beach where we collect several hundred kilos of garbage. Comes to my mind the following thought: How far can human unconsciousness? I really do not know. Anyone would think that the people who defend nature are the pure tree hugging hippies, nothing further from reality the ocean is alien to many people. However, it is the one to make it all work from the weather to the life of the species; the problem is that the oceans have become huge garbage dumps. All this because of widespread mismanagement of urban waste. A study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has quantified in million tons the garbage that accumulates in the funds the water column, the sea surface, and shoreline. Garbage in the sea is the symptom of a serious disease: constant misuse and mismanagement of natural resources; the amount of plastic bags, bottles and other debris in the ocean. Can be drastically reduced by improving the management of waste, reducing the amount and recycling, all these are solutions that can be implemented from the beginning, from our homes and daily lives the serious impact on our huge seas. According to...
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Richmond Vale

The Importance of Wetlands.

Wetland and Importance to Protect Them. By Vanessa from Spain. The wetland is a land area full of water, either permanently or seasonally. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapting to a unique soil. Wetlands play a number of roles in the environment principally water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. Wetlands are the most diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Here at Richmond Vale, we count with the only extension of wetland in the whole island,  this area is in devastation  by the flood in 2013. That happen because the vegetation is burned and turn around contaminated with a large amount of waste. Flooding along with the fact of sea level rise, he has compromised the area and part of the island. That is why the restoration of the zone starts in 2015. In order to prevent the erosion continue, Richmond Vale Academy with the Ministry of Tourism has been working. Many actions as tree planting and cleanings up have taken place in the last years. The area is partially salt due to the type of vegetation. The action consisted of planting various trees like, neem, mangroves, coconut trees the "penguin" and plants that have been mounting in this...
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Richmond Vale

Farming in St. Vincent: Tearing Up the Environment - By Ammon

I went on an investigation with my team to learn about the farming in St. Vincent. We visited many people and gathered heaps of interesting information about agriculture, history, permaculture and people. When it comes to St. Vincent, I would argue that agriculture is the single most important industry in the country. However, it doesn't get much attention from investors, due to a number of different factors. ST. VINCENT'S GEOGRAPHY: AN OBSTACLE TO COLONIZATION AND INDUSTRIAL FARMING [caption id="attachment_5701" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photo Credit: ARRL.org St. Vincent is a volcanic island, meaning that it has steep slopes and a multitude of ridges. These characteristics have truly shape the history of the island and its agriculture. Let's see how. The mountainous nature of the island made it extremely difficult to colonize during the surge of European imperialism. The same was not true for other islands, such as Barbados, whose flat geography became an obstacle when locals tried to resist colonization. Today, the steep ridges of St. Vincent make industrial farming impossible, because machines need flat land to work efficiently. FARMING IN ST. VINCENT: RECENT CHANGES Along with these factors, the St. Vincent farming industry has undergone some major changes in the last 30 years. These changes changed the landscape for present and future generations of farmers. The "Land Reform Program" of the 1980s and the 1990s changed the...
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Richmond Vale

Ammon's Experience at RVA

I have lived at Richmond Vale Academy, on the Island of Saint Vincent, for about three and a half months. Myself and two other people started the Fighting Poverty program at the beginning of April 2016. The program lasts 18 months and is full of outstanding experiences. These range from a week-long Agricultural Investigation, to planting trees, to teaching people how to work the garden and kitchen for common action. You can read plenty about these experiences on our blog . However, what I really want to tell you about is the first period of the Fighting with the Poor program. MY EXPERIENCE IN THE FIGHTING POVERTY PROGRAM The first six months of this program are the study period. In the Fighting Poverty program, we devote a decent amount of time to our studies. If you take them seriously, the study and research you do will give you a perspective that can't be bought or sold. During the first three months, we focus on the Contemporary World. In this unit, we study how society became what it is now and why it favors some while neglecting others. The Contemporary Studies earn us credits at One World University. Their main purpose, though, is to prepare us for our Service Period . They give us the knowledge and tools to contextualize the difficulties people face in developed and...
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Richmond Vale

Life at RVA - Breaking Cultural Paradigms - by Jocelyn

At RVA we are part of something bigger than just one traditional school, we also have we join different programs as well, the two larger programs we have are “Fighting Poverty” and “Climate Compliance”, we have classes and presentations, the life in the school it's based on the community, that means we share in the same way different classes, where we need to learning different skills, not just theory, we are learning about gardening, cooking, environmentally friendly cleaning, and a lot of other different things we must to do together, and in this process we start to learn about our different cultures, history, and way of life. Here at RVA you will often meet people from different continents, so you can see how different just the way you clean something is. To start to understand each other and the world is not just you and your way in this world, it is so much more. Like how we learn about each other, we need to live together, share space together, we talk about life together, and sometimes it is not easy, you are with the same people all the time, and you may get upset and want to be alone, but in time we can understand and accept each other and the situation. In general we have this idea of a perfect world, but we are...
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Richmond Vale

Baking our own Bread - by Jocelyn Flores

In RVA we have time to take care of our own house. Twice a week we meet to cook, clean, farm or anything else that is necessary. One of our favorite things to do in common action is to make the Bread, and not just because it’s so delicious, it’s because we can use our imagination and love to make everybody happy in the school. We try to inspire and give more and more energy for our projects in the school ! We want you to enjoy like us the classic, but not for far less relevant, recipe. Then you can use with you family, friends or at any event. Or you can make your own bread for the whole week (just keep it in the refrigerator). So, let’s go ... Ingredients: • 250g strong white flour • 250g wholemeal • 2 tsp salt • 7g sachet fast-action yeast • 3 tbsp olive oil • 300ml water • 1/2 cup of oat • Herbs, like rosemary, cinnamon or oregano • Seeds, like flax seed, chia or sesame   Method: Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, then add the oil , water and YOUR LOVE!, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and...
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Richmond Vale

How we keep our Home Clean - by Ammon

Here at Richmond Vale academy we have many beautiful and brilliant people constantly moving and working to make our community as lovely and productive as possible. This leads to a lot of dirt and debris getting swept all over the place. Bathrooms get mucky and spiders take up roost any place their web will stand. When unattended entropy reigns and it becomes very dirty very fast. This could either be a very stressful situation or a huge expense if we had to pay people to clean the entire school every day. Instead we work as a community to keep the school clean. Obvious things like not leaving dishes around and not letting trash make it's way into the surrounding environment are very important. [caption id="attachment_254" align="alignleft" width="528"] Kitchen Time! What is integral though is that every single person has an area that they are responsible for. Every morning we take time after breakfast and before we start the rest of the day to clean the school. Every one is an area to clean and to continuously watch over throughout the week to make sure it is maintained, and not disruptive to other work and the activities of the school. This works really well because we cut down on expenses, we all have to take responsibility, and everybody keeps each other accountable. This is the same with...
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Richmond Vale

The Challenges of Fundraising

The Fighting shoulder to shoulder with the poor program involves that the team has to fundraise $1200 US per person. In theory this should not be a problem, because the amount of team work and many ideas we had from my part I thought it would be a piece of cake. Like any other project there were many problems that we as poverty fighters had to turn into challenges and work as a team towards a common goal. One of the biggest challenges we came across was to fund raise in a poor country. St. Vincent is the third poorest country in the region, thus making money is sometimes a form of luxury. We have done actions in poor communities in St. Vincent and therefore we have seen the effects the lack of money have on a family. So we had to think of other ways than the local population to receive funds. Some of the ways we made our fundraising money was to have a snack shop at the Richmond Vale Academy. We sold chocolate, cigarets, chips and soft drinks, we tried to keep a good stock of locally or Caribbean products. Many of the ideas for fundraising were very creative and full off sparks in the first few months. We had a list about 20 things that we could do, from designing t-shits and selling them...
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Richmond Vale

Once in a Lifetime

  Six months in Ecuador - Once in a lifetime experience!   The second part of my program as a volunteer was one of the best things that could come to me in my life. It literally changed my life in many aspects, it helped me to understand many issues related to poverty. The period in Ecuador lasted six months from October 2013 until end of March 2014. The opportunity to be a volunteer is a once-in- a-lifetime experience that allows you to use all your knowledge in practice, the opportunity to meet new people, the opportunity to share your culture as well as learn a lot about the new one, to learn new skills, to come across a new lifestyle, to discover a lot about yourself, you will be able to reflect on your own values, and the most important aspect of being a volunteer is to help other people! The project I participated in was Child Aid Celica. Celica is a small village up in the south of Ecuador very close to Peruvian boarders. In the village and in all the communities I was working in, everyone was friendly and they accepted me with open arms. The Child Aid project is a very broad program in which the whole family is involved in and many various activities are carried out in order to improve...
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Richmond Vale

The Best Year of my Life!

                  By Tjasa Zupanc, Slovenia THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE! One year of life can be very normal, sometimes even boring if nothing special happens. But I can’t say that for the last year of my life. I can’t use words normal, usual, nothing special, ok…Everything was different, new, exciting and most of all challenging. I’m talking about my life in Richmond Vale Academy (RVA), another kind of school that seeks for those who want to make our planet more equal and those who care about our nature and the place we live in. I was a part of Ecuador team for one year and before we went to the project in Ecuador where we were working with Humana People to People, a humanitarian organization established in Africa, Latin America and Asia, we were living very interesting but different life at RVA. But everything started much earlier, before I even heard about the school. It started inside of me when different feelings started to grow. Feelings which pushed me to do something that I was dreaming about for a long time. I always wanted to meet new people, see new places and at the same time learn new things and do something that is a bit challenging. I always found too many reasons (excuses) why not to go;...
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Richmond Vale

Life can be much simpler than we imagined!

It has been about two months since we arrived in San Isidro, Belize, for the project period in our Fighting with The Poor program. On the first weeks we’ve spent most of our time adapting to the new lifestyle and understanding a bit from the Project Leader what were our goals on the project. For this part, we had two meeting with local leaders, as the head of the women’s group and the “mayor”, visited local families to get their point of view of the situation they lived in and made a quick trip to see what the other DI’s had done in the village of Aguacate where they were last year. During this initial time, we had some free time that was put into making improvements in the house; we fixed a broken fridge, constructed our shower, closed leaks in the ceiling and bought new equipment necessary for our daily routine. We also spend quite some time playing with local kids, trying to understand a bit how life works in the village and how is the relation between family members and neighbors. After a couple of weeks, we felt more comfortable and could start some interaction with the locals. The first step was to build an organic garden and compost with our host family in our backyard. We are still struggling to get it correct...
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Richmond Vale

Respecting and loving nature

Beautiful nature The nature in St Vincent must be one of the world’s most beautiful ones. Always growing and always green. It amazes people who sees it from the sky or from the ocean and does something to you to be a part of it. On the nature weekend some of us had the opportunity to walk the Parrot trail , a 1½ hours walk in the eye of the jungle. Just by going up in the car through the valley towards the start of the trail kept us quiet and amazed. The start of the trail was on a wide road. Along the road there was a goat with her two baby goats drinking milk from her and making all of us melt by their cuteness. I keep getting impressed of what animals do to people’s feelings. Walking further ahead we heard the parrots making their sounds. Since I was little I have hated to see animals in cage, and especially birds. Birds have wings for a reason; I think the worst we can do to a bird is to lock it in so it is unable to use the function that represents them as a bird. Even worst is that it is animal lovers who do this to them. It was really touching to see them fly there free in the sky over the...
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