“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more” – Psalm 71:14

The polls inspired confidence, many were hopeful, some were sceptical but no one knew for sure. As was reported in the Dawn e-paper edition (www.dawn.com) of November 05 2007, “In a country that coined the term ‘lynching’ for extrajudicial murder of blacks and poor whites, Barack Hussein Obama made history on Tuesday when he became the first African American to have been elected US president.
African Americans described the victory as a ‘realisation of Martin Luther King’s dream’ — a reference to the 1963 speech of the iconic civil rights leader spelling out his vision for an America cleansed of racism”.

Even though this vision is still a work in progress, a significant landmark has been achieved, and with global acclamation. Many are still in disbelief but it shows the power of the “audacity of hope”. Let this be a stimulus for us to hope continually and praise Him more and more. Yes We Can Change! The Internet sales of President Elect Barack Obama’s two books “Dreams of my Father” and “Audacity of Hope” are reported to have skyrocketed since the presidential election. I have certainly been inspired by reading them and would suggest that you put them high on your reading agenda.

Our youth are the future. We must nurture and develop them to the fullest in order to preserve planet earth for posterity. When a country wins then the populace wins. A country wins when all its people (the politicians, the civil servants, the captains of industry and commerce, the trade unions, the institutions of learning, the church, the media and the wider NGO fraternity) all work together in harmony for the common good, and develop their spiritual, social, cultural, physical and economic agenda to serve others ahead of themselves. The collective impact of each country win then redounds to the benefit of a sustainable world.

Another event that took place last week, albeit at the domestic level, was the Youth and Climate Change workshop. It was coordinated by Ms. Nicole Garofano of Counterpart Caribbean @ The Future Centre and Dr. Gillian Cambers of The Sandwatch Foundation.   Over thirty participants from 10 countries of the Caribbean attended, generally in teams of one teacher and two secondary school children. There were also other local, regional and international resource persons. The theme was “Youth and Climate Change – Cool Youth Leading the Way”. The sponsors were many and varied and their part is fully recognised in the Counterpart Caribbean website.

The project goal was to draw together selected Caribbean youth and teachers, already sensitized to environmental matters, to develop learning tools to assist in raising awareness about climate change adaptation measures required among their peers and the wider community in their own countries.

The project objectives were to: (1) develop learning tools for the benefit of Caribbean youth and their teachers to educate on the subject of Climate Change; (2) develop relationships with presenters with innate knowledge of Climate Change; (3) Ensure the inclusion of a holistic approach to the environment through the selection of workshop location, physical activity teamwork and choice of presenters; and (4) provide Ministries of Education and Environment in each country with regionalized learning tools on climate change impacts.

The longer term goal is to mobilise youth and other groups to begin to take action and adapt to climate change. However the first step and the one addressed by this project is to make people more aware and to give people the knowledge and tools to begin the adaptation process.

This project has the potential to put its participants and the region in general, in a positive light regarding climate change awareness and a respect for our place in the environment. Counterpart Caribbean and the Sandwatch Foundation are existing NGOs committed to the wise use of natural resources for a better planet, and both are already involved in other climate change initiatives. They are each fully committed to building on the results of this project and helping the Caribbean countries move from climate change awareness to implementation of climate change adaptation measures. They both have extensive experience of working with other partners and intend to build on this project after it is completed.

I attended and addressed the closing ceremony of the workshop last Friday. Dr. The Hon. Esther R. Byer-Suckoo, Minister of Family, Youth Affairs, Sports and Environment, witnessed the presentation of media products by each group and gave the keynote address. These media products included Video, Drama, Story Telling and Web-based development. The presentations were excellent when one takes into consideration that three days before some participants were clueless in terms of their knowledge, skills, use and application of these media products. The Minister was also very impressed. Congratulations to Nicole and Gillian and their merry band of volunteers.

Nicole has just completed four years with Counterpart Caribbean as an Australian volunteer and is about to go home for Christmas vacation. Counterpart Caribbean is seeking ways in which she can return as a trainer to continue the good work in sustainable development among the youth, in particular, in the Caribbean.

At the closing dinner, the participants were entertained by a segment of the Coleridge and Parry school musical band, recent winners of a NIFCA silver medal. The youth are our future!