By Gabrielle Heroux, 2nd year MDP student
|Seaside in Roseau|
It’s a stormy morning here in Crayfish River, one month into hurricane season, and one month away from the end of my field placement. I am, as was Nathan, doing my practicum in the Kalinago Territory on the island of Dominica. He covered a lot of the background in his blog post, so I won’t go over it again.
My work here has focused primarily on access to credit and funding. Land in the Territory is communally owned and vested in the Kalinago Council on behalf of the people. This ownership situation prevents individuals from using land as collateral, which means that most people are unable to get loans or credit from financial institutions. This, in turn, limits opportunities to start or expand businesses, build or renovate a home, or otherwise undertake investment in their communities.
I’ve been participating in the development of a proposal for the creation of a credit facility dedicated to the Kalinago people. Essentially, this would take the form of a loan to the Council, who would then issue loans to residents in priority areas (agriculture, housing, tourism, education, etc.). I’ve also been researching alternative sources of funding (crowdfunding, for example) with the goal of developing a practical guide for those seeking capital.
My experience outside of work has also been wonderful. Dominica is superlatively beautiful, jaw-dropping views in every direction, an explosion of bright colours and lush nature. I’ve met great people, from whom I’ve been fortunate to learn about this land, its history, and the communities here. I have, for instance, gotten a bit of a crash course in local politics – elections for Chief and council are being held in the Territory on July 7, so that’s naturally been a source of much discussion.
My biggest challenge so far (other than dealing with giant bugs in my apartment) has been adjusting to life outside the city. It’s been eye-opening. Indeed, the same can be said about this entire experience so far. I’m looking forward to finding out what my last month here will bring.
|L'Escalier Tete-Chien, where once a great snake rose out of the ocean to make its home on the island|