ST LU­CIA PHO­TOG­RA­PHER EARNS NGO MAN­AGE­MENT CER­TI­FI­CA­TION

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Renowned Saint Lu­cia pho­tog­ra­pher, Kirk El­liott, re­cently earned cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in Non­Govern­men­tal Or­ga­ni­za­tion Pro­fes­sional Man­age­ment from the Uni­ver­sity of the West Indies Open Cam­pus.

For the past four years El­liott has been men­tor­ing the Fond Gens Li­bre Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee as it seeks to both de­velop and en­hance the com­mu­nity's tourism prod­uct. Fond Gens Li­bre is a com­mu­nity at the base of Gros Pi­ton com­pris­ing 109 res­i­dents liv­ing in 42 house­holds. Res­i­dents are re­puted to be de­scen­dants of Saint Lu­cia's free­dom fight­ers who re­jected slav­ery hun­dreds of years ago and, in the process, es­tab­lished this strate­gic strong­hold. To­day many of these res­i­dents earn a liv­ing as tour guides ac­com­pa­ny­ing hik­ers up the Gros Pi­ton.

Gros Pi­ton is the larger and taller of Saint Lu­cia's iconic Pi­tons, which form part of the Pi­ton Man­age­ment Area (PMA). The PMA was in­scribed as a UNESCO World Her­itage Site in 2003 and added to the UNESCO World Her­itage Sites list in 2004.

El­liott has helped the com­mu­nity to es­tab­lish an ex­ec­u­tive arm which was reg­is­tered with the Min­istry of Eq­uity, So­cial Jus­tice, Em­pow­er­ment, Youth Devel­op­ment, Sports and Lo­cal Govern­ment as a com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2017. This paved the way for the com­mu­nity to re­ceive a Plan­ning Grant from the United Na­tions Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme (UNDP) Global En­vi­ron­men­tal Fund's (GEF) Small Grants Pro­gramme (SGP) to as­sist with its sus­tain­able com­mu­nity-based tourism ini­tia­tive.

“Be­cause NGO Man­age­ment is out­side my area of ex­per­tise, I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue this course of study when

Mr. Giles Ro­mu­lus, Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for UNDP cir­cu­lated a re­quest for ap­pli­ca­tions to SGP grantees,” ex­plained El­liott when asked how, as a pho­tog­ra­pher, he came to pur­sue this course. The course in­tro­duced El­liott to the his­tory of Caribbean NGOs as well as the unique chal­lenges they face. The course, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) through the Caribbean Pol­icy Devel­op­ment Cen­tre (CPDC) was open to per­sons across the Caribbean work­ing with NGOs.

The course en­tailed sig­nif­i­cant col­lab­o­ra­tive work, sim­i­lar to what ob­tains in Caribbean NGOs, and in­tro­duced El­liott to Caribbean NGO best prac­tices as well as a co­hort of NGO man­age­ment pro­fes­sion­als across the re­gion.

Com­ment­ing on El­liott's de­ci­sion to hone his com­mu­nity men­tor­ing skills Ro­mu­lus opined: “To be suc­cess­ful to­day, you must be a per­pet­ual learner, even af­ter at­tain­ing your goals. If a per­son stops learn­ing, they will stag­nate and di­min­ish in many ways.”

When asked his thoughts on El­liott's com­mit­ment to Fond Gens Li­bre, as ev­i­denced by his un­der­tak­ing this course, Fond Gens Li­bre Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent, Francis Alexan­der ex­pressed high praise for El­liott, stat­ing: “Kirk, con­grat­u­la­tions on your lat­est achieve­ment. You are ev­ery­thing we could wish for in a men­tor and you truly in­spire us to be the very best we can be.”

Hav­ing re­cently re­ceived the Base­line Stud­ies Re­port com­ing out of the Plan­ning Grant, the Fond Gens Li­bre Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee is cur­rently work­ing on ca­pac­ity build­ing and prod­uct devel­op­ment. El­liott looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing his work with the com­mu­nity with a view to help­ing it de­velop its tourism prod­uct into an in­ter­na­tional bench­mark of sus­tain­able com­mu­nity-based tourism within a UNESCO World Her­itage site.

A Fond Gens Li­bre Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee meet­ing. It will now di­rectly ben­e­fit from Kirk El­liott’s new qual­i­fi­ca­tions as he works with the com­mit­tee.

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