The man trying to boost St. Vincent’s film industry

By: Vakeesha John

Feature: Young Vincentian Artist dreams big

Romain David, a young, Vincentian man, expresses his passions, skills and outlook on education using the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream”.

His dream is to promote a new mindset towards education, capitalizing on inclusion and diversity of all educational fields.

“There is no one road to educational advancement and there is no field that should be left out of the conversation when discussing education,” David says.

David is passionate about the arts, specifically film-making, videography and photography.

He believes that every creative person should fit equally into society and be respected for their work, talents and intelligence.

He references the work of developmental psychologist Howard Gardner who posits that there are at least seven types of intelligence, which includes spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, and kinesthetic intelligence.

David noted, however, that in today’s society, only one form of intelligence seems to be “accepted”.

David grew up and resides in Richland Park with his parents and two sisters. His youngest sister recently placed in the top three in the CPEA exams, while the other was a recipient of a national scholarship at A’Levels.

He attributes his success and that of his and siblings to the type of mother he has, whom he describes as “supportive in every way”.

“My mom pushes us to excel. She supports our dreams regardless of what society thinks about it. Once it involves education, rewards and mobility, she is on board,” David says.

He further states that he was once into Geography and considered being a geologist, but over a period of time and exploring his skills and passions, he put this aside temporarily. He then got his first DSLR camera in 2015 and even then, wasn’t sure how to go forward.

“I wasn’t fully sure about what exactly I wanted. It took me a very long while before I could’ve actually made money from it. I remember there was a point where I wanted to give up because it was taking too long for me to blow up. But my mother had more faith in me than I had in myself, so I went along with it until I started to make money and was able to expand bit by bit.”

In 2017, he pursued a career in this field and began studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. Three years later, David has completed a B.A in Film Production and Film Studies (double major) and awaits his certification at the end of this semester. His overall goal is to work for himself and be an employer, providing an avenue for other creative persons to soar. David outlines his goals for SVG and this field in these words:

“I want to build a studio and a safe space that photographers and videographer/filmmakers can use for an affordable fee. My goal for SVG is to boost the film and media industry. SVG does not have a thriving film culture and I want to be the one to change that. Most videographers get confused with filmmaking and videography. They are not the same thing and that is what I want to teach. I want to give strength to videographers who want to become filmmakers. But most importantly, I want Vincentians to appreciate and support their local films when they are produced. It would take a while but we would get there.”

The aspiring film-maker urges parents, students and educators to give creative students a better chance. “Our intelligence matters,” he says. David reinforces the point that had it not been for his mother’s encouragement, he would not been as successful as he is today. “Do you really want this Romain? Then think about it and go forward.” These words from his mother, a retired teacher of 39 years, paved the way for his creative success. He also mentions how the hard work of his teachers propelled him and reminisces on how “miserable” he was in school, recording performances that reflected only an “average student”.

David urges all young persons to find a passion, have a dream and work towards making that dream a reality. “Education is the key to success, but don’t let your education be defined by society. As long as it involves learning, growing and helping you to become employable, that is education,” David says. He implored persons to work on their weaknesses and mentioned procrastination as his main weakness.

Over the last five years, David has developed his photography business and covered a lot of jobs on campus as a student entrepreneur. He plans to impact this field locally, regionally and internationally. David’s finals sentiments were shared by the statements: “This is the start of being great. This is my dream. This is my liberty to break stereotypes and chains that hold back many from advancing creatively and educationally.”

St. Vincent Hosts Cricket Tournament While Its Neighbors Lock-down

Most of the countries of the Caribbean and of the world have experienced lock-down measures in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The travel industry has come to a halt and the sports industry has stalled with it.

But, while the rest of the world has shutdown, for the most part, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with only 18 Covid-19 cases, is hosting an historic Cricket Tournament – the Vincy Premier League.

The first match of the tournament took place today (May 22), at the Arnos Vale Playing Field in St. Vincent.

See – Vincy Premier League Bowls Off Despite Glitches

But why was this allowed?

A list of 20 protocols for players and 15 for spectators must be adhered to throughout the tournament to ensure the safety of everyone.

These protocols are aided by mass cleaning of the venue each day.

On the first day of the tournament (May 22), there were no spectators physically at the match but it was viewed by thousands within and outside of the country.

According to the Protocols agreed upon between the country’s Health Ministry and the SVG Cricket Association, the organizers of the tournament, a maximum of 150 spectators will be allowed from Day 2 – 7, using only two stands. Spectators must be seated 5 seats apart.


On Day 8, a maximum of 250 spectators will be allowed at the venue using only two stands and seated 5 seats apart.


On day 9 and 10, a maximum of 300 spectators will be allowed at the venue using only
three stands and seated 5 seats apart.

Hand sanitation for all spectators is also mandatory upon entry into the venue as well as temperature checks.

SOME OF THE STRINGENT PROTOCOLS FOR OFFICIALS AND PLAYERS

Stringent protocols for players and officials were put in place, including daily, temperature checks on arrival at the venue, and spacing out of players in physical spaces (including stands and change rooms) to adhere to social and physical distancing.

Players will also be transported to and from the venue in designated vehicles and must wear masks while travelling.

Players will also not be allowed to share cricket gears or consumables, the use of liquid in any form on the cricket balls will NOT be permitted. During match time, the ball must be returned to the bowler in a manner that minimizes handling of the ball.

Players and officials will be advised to avoid touching their face with unwashed hands and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette at all times. Sophisticated hand sanitizing stations will be set up around the boundaries of the ground.

Players must sanitize hands before going onto the field and when coming off the field. The standing umpires will have a hand sanitizer tube available at all times in the middle for any player wishing to sanitize hands at any point in the match.

THE COVID-19 SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY

Since its first recorded COVID-19 case in March, 2020, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has only recorded 18 cases of the disease.

The country has taken a liberal approach to dealing with the virus, favoring advanced measures over complete lock-downs.

The country has also refused to close its borders.

Chief Medical Officer of the country, Simone Keizer-Beache was asked by a Journalist if she advised the government of the country to close the country’s borders.

Beache responded saying “Unless we are going to stay closed until there is a vaccine, and that might be 18 months and then once there’s a vaccine, the entire country… We have a massive vaccination program, unless you are going do that, the belief that you can close and forever protect your population I think is an error”.

The country’s public health response mechanism to the Covid-19 pandemic is being aided by Taiwan and Cuba.

By: Demion McTair

Secrets of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Vincentians ‘star’ in popular French TV show

L-R: Lennox Bowman (left), Echappees Belles host – Sophie Jovillard (left-center), Denise Stephens (center), Stephen Huggins (center-right) and Cleo Huggins (right) posing for a pic.

Several notable Vincentians have played leading roles in season 14, episode 24 of the popular French TV show, Echappees Belles.

Vincentians, Denise Stephens, and Cleo Huggins played leading roles in the one and a half hour show aired on France 5 on February 22, 2020 and which featured St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Echappées Belles is a weekly culture and travel show broadcasted by FRANCE 5 channel, which explores countries through their heritage, their history and their culture.

The show is presented by Sophie Jovillard. The show is based on following her trip and the people she meets, getting to discover the country’s culture.

The show, aired at prime time is estimated to have over one million viewers per airing.

Other notable figures from different villages throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines are also seen, including Kite-surfer, Jeremie Tronet, Lawyer and Radio Enthusiast, Stephen Huggins and members of the Point Christmas Lighting Committee.

Filming took place between December 9 to 20, 2019 and featured several places, activities and people, including the unique Nine-Mornings Festival.

The scenes with Denise and Cleo, as guides, can be viewed from 55 minutes onward in the clip published on YouTube.

The island that disappears

Visitors taking a walk on Mopion Island. Photo: Bluefoot Travel

Now you see me, now you don’t.

What if islands can play disappearing games? Well, apparently, they can.

Located at the southern most tip of the archipelago of Islands that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines is Mopion Island.

Known for its iconic hut-style umbrella which stands alone, the tides decide the shape of Mopion Island and sometimes, if the tides get really high, much of the island submerges under water.

On a normal day with low to moderate tides, the island makes for a pristine picnic spot which is often frequented by beach-lovers. In fact, it has an excellent rating on TripAdvisor.

Once the tide is high, however, the surrounding waters overwhelm the already limited beach space, sometimes preventing any form of visits.

A partly submerged Mopion Island. Photo: Bluefoot Travel

According to some sources such as Britannica, Mopion Island would be classified as a Cay (a small, low island, usually sandy, situated on a coral reef platform).

If you are on a trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the tides are trying to conceal Mopion Island, you can just visit one of the Tobago Cays, not too far away and experience the same secluded getaway.

This video by LexLovesLos shows how beautiful the Mopion Island is.

By: Demion McTair

Vincentian student’s story among top 10 inspiring stories of 2019

The story of Vincentian Emanuel Quashie has been highlighted as one of the top 10 most inspiring stories of 2019 by the prestigious Queen’s University Belfast.

Quashie is a PHD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast, in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom.

News of the highlight was revealed on the university’s official Facebook page on December 22, 2019.

In an exclusive interview with SecretsOfSVG’s Demion McTair on December 22nd, Quashie said he is “deeply honoured and humbled for sure, to be featured as one of the top 10 most inspiring stories of 2019 by a world-class university such as Queen’s University Belfast”.

“As a person coming from the background that I came from, Liberty Lodge, being born from a mentally ill mom, having to move from house-to-house, growing up on streets for a little bit with strangers and overcoming so many struggles and stuff and for my story to be an inspiration to so many people around the world is something that if you had asked me 10 / 20 years ago, I would not have imagined this being feasible” – Quashie said.

“It just motivates me more to ensure that I continue doing good, working hard, so that way, I can inspire even more persons and help to lift persons up as much as I can” – Quashie added.

Queen’s University Belfast published Quashie’s story on its official Facebook page on March 19, 2019. which garnered over 247, 000 reactions, 4,000+ comments and just under 3,000 shares.

Some of the other stories which made the top 10 include; a Cystic Fibrosis Breakthrough by researchers at the university, and a language lesson from a Chinese student to commemorate the Year of the Pig.

5 daredevil experiences in St. Vincent

Some travelers crave extraordinary adventure.

With its mountainous, multi-island make up, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a number of daring adventures which are best suited for the strong at heart.

Here are five (5) daredevil adventures in St. Vincent:

1. Sleeping or camping out in volcanic crater: Volcanoes can erupt at anytime. So, taking a decision to pitch tent in the crater of a dormant one is in fact a very daring experience.

At the La Soufriere volcano on mainland St. Vincent you’d be climbing down more than 3,000 feet in the crater to pitch tent with the smell of sulfur to accompany you and your fellow campers all night long.

Photo: Richmond Vale Nature and Hiking Center

Though it might be cold, if you get close enough to the vent where all the heat comes out, you should be more than warm enough.

2. Swimming in an old volcanic crater: who knows what’s beneath, or what geological mysteries are waiting to reveal themselves? Do you dare take a swim?

Urballis Bess posted a video of the swimming experience on his Facebook page.

Here’s a video link to the crater swimming – Link.

3. Climbing Richmond Peak: A lot of locals who have ever managed to climb Richmond Peak mountain, the second highest mountain on St. Vincent have serious reservations about going back. Sure, the views up there are impeccable, but the climb up the steep, winding path to the top will take you several hours and will require stamina.

A view of Richmond Peak from the slopes of the La Soufriere Volcano.

You might also have to camp overnight.

4. Surfing on the Windward side of the island: locals do this in areas such as Georgetown, but this is the only thing on the list we absolutely do not recommend to visitors.

The strong rip currents of the Atlantic ocean will not be shy to conceal you, sometimes without a trace. Though surfing may seem like a wonderful idea, we don’t advise anyone to take up this daredevil challenge.

5. Journeying to the hot springs: crossing several rivers

People crossing a river to make their way to the Hot Springs. Photo: Lyndon Oliver

St. Vincent may not have zip lines and other daredevil adventures which are commonly known to travelers, but it does have a whole world of adventure for thrill-seekers.

One of the best thrill-seeking adventures on St. Vincent is the trip to the Hot Springs near Trinity Falls on the northwestern end of St. Vincent.

This is a thrill-seeking adventure because you are required to walk through a rainforest, cross precarious waterways and traverse under the majesty of high cliffs and winding crevices.

Check out a previously posted article on the journey to the Hot Springs here.

By: Demion McTair

Secrets of SVG

Paralyzed youth reaches mountain top in St. Vincent

The ability to at least walk again must be one of the greatest wishes for someone who became paralyzed, but climbing to the summit of a more than 4,000 ft mountain might seem like a wish too far.

Twenty one 21 year old Yanick Charles, however, probably wished on the right shooting star as the Health Minister in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Luke Browne made a spontaneous decision to take, on his back, differently-abled Charles to the top of La Soufriere volcano on August 15th, 2019.

Almost every year, the now Minister of Health, Luke Browne would take participants of his annual summer kids club program to different locations across St. Vincent and The Grenadines. This year, they opted to climb the volcano as one of the places to visit.

When they arrived at the start of the trail, it was expected that Yanick would be left behind with whoever was staying to keep his company, but then an extraordinary act of compassion created a miracle for Yanick.

“When I saw the situation, I just spontaneously thought that I shouldn’t leave him behind so I asked him if he wanted to go up. I knew that it would have been a daunting task for me to carry him up, but I asked him…I prepared my mind for the awesome challenge ahead,” Browne told Searchlight Newspaper in an interview.

Twenty one year old Yanick was excited by the decision of Mr. Browne and said it was a dream come through for him.

Minister Browne (Center-front) taking Yanick up the 4,000+ ft volcano on his back

“It made me feel like it was a dream. I didn’t know the day would have come for me to go up there. I always wanted to go but in my condition, I couldn’t…I didn’t know someone would’ve carried me on his back so it was unbelievable,” Searchlight Newspaper reported Yanick as saying.

He said the journey took approximately three hours and when Browne got tired, they would rest and have conversation, Searchlight reported.

“Charles has spent the last nine years of his life in a wheelchair after falling from a tree in 2010, which resulted in an injury that left him paralysed from the waist down” – Searchlight added.

Read more of the SEARCHLIGHT Newspaper story here

VIDEO: How the new resort at Peter’s Hope will look

A video rendering of what Black Sands Resort and Villas will look like was released today, June 11, 2019.

Ground broke in 2017 on the US$60 million Resort and Villas at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope on the western coast of mainland St. Vincent.  

The rendering of the luxury villa project was published today by Flora Di Menna Designs in a 6 minute and 3 seconds video.

According to the site’s YouTube page, the “private ocean front resort offers spectacular views and privacy in a spacious 6,100 sq. ft. villa with 3,000 sq. ft. of deck and infinity pool”.

Inside one of the Villas (shown in the rendering video).

It also stated that “Villas are now available for purchase”.

For the YouTube video, Click here

By: Demion McTair

Secrets of SVG

About the tiny nation that made it on the UN Security Council

St. Vincent and the Grenadines has just made history being the smallest country to gain a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, 185 votes to El Salvador’s 6.

The country will represent group C – the Latin American and Caribbean States block from January 2020 for a 2-year term- UN News reported on June 7, 2019.

The 150 square mile multi-island state with a population of 109,000 is definitely opening up in many ways, but is no stranger to holding accolades.

In 2015, the country received an award from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for reducing poverty and undernourishment – Searchlight Newspaper.

In 2014, St. Vincent & the Grenadines scored a first winning gold in the global ENO treelympics competition for the most active country.

In 2018, it became one of the first Caribbean nations (after Jamaica) to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In 2019, the country started drilling phase of its exploration for geothermal energy in a move to become one of the greenest countries in the world, in terms of its carbon emissions.

The recently commissioned geothermal drilling plant. Photo: Lance Neverson.

St. Vincent is known for producing the World’s best rum, having one of the oldest botanical gardens in the western hemisphere, one of the oldest forest reserves – King’s Hill Forest reserve and some of the most beautiful sailing waters in the world.

The country has also produced notable musicians such as Kevin Lyttle whose hit – “turn me on” was a global sensation in the mid-2000’s.

The country is also known to have one of the hottest carnivals around – Vincy Mas (June – July) and a unique festival called “Nine mornings” held in December.

Currently, the country has the longest-serving head of government in the Caribbean Community grouping – CARICOM, Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The Grenadine island of Mustique remains a favorite vacation spot for members of the British Royal Family and home to entertainers such as Brian Adams.

Further south is Canouan island which boasts of having one of the most beautiful marinas in the world. It is also home to several billionaire investments and developments.

A bird’s eye view of the new Canouan marina

The multi-island nation comprising of 32 islands and cays just recently opened an international Airport (2017) and now has standard weekly non-stop flight connections from Miami, New York and Canada.

There are two main seasons: the dry season (typically from November to May) and the Rainy / wet season from June to October (typically).

The year-round tropical climate makes for excellent vacationing from the extreme cold or extreme hot periods experienced at winter and summer, respectively.

The country has a cosmopolitan mix of people with indigenous, those of African descent, Caucasians and East Indians.

One of the main risks facing the country is climate change and its potential to impact food security, infrastructure, tourism and other areas and sectors.

Demion McTair

Secrets of SVG

Ganja-smoking zones in St. Vincent

St. Vincent’s ganja has been tested and proven to be one of the most potent in its natural state.

In late 2018, St. Vincent decriminalized Marijuana for medicinal purposes

What if you could travel to St. Vincent to experience the real ganja and do so without limits in specially declared zones / areas? Will you be up for it?

Leave your comments on our facebook post or here on wordpress

Marijuana use and cultivation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are still illegal, but for medicinal purposes, have been decriminalized.

There are also currently no zones designated for recreational smoking or use of marijuana, but the Rastafarian community continues its use for religious purposes.

The ““Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purposes Bill 2018”, was withdrawn after members of the Rastafarian community told the Government that a law could not give them permission to use marijuana, which they consider a sacrament” – Jamaica Observer reported in 2018.

Rastafarians across the country, use the herb for religious purposes, especially in the north of mainland St. Vincent and villages such as, Campden Park those in the suburbs of Kingstown.