The Daily Herald writes that Foundation Social Workplace Saba (FSWS) organized its second annual and well-attended Banana Salsa Party at Eugenius Johnson Center.
While the 2012 event was restricted to creating exposure for the Organoponics Garden through the sampling of dishes made by various local restaurants and caterers with locally grown and organic produce, the programme of the December 18 event informed about the general purpose and operations of the organization and its activities of the past year. FSWS Director La-Toya Charles gave a historical elucidation of the foundation which was founded in 2007 to coordinate and execute the then social formation programme, which became the Second Chance Education programme after the constitutional change in 2010. Shortly after its inception, the foundation grew to encompass the Sheltered Working Environment at the Organoponics Garden and later also included the Adult Continuing Education department. She explained further that despite the differences in the functions of each department, the official mission statement of the foundation as described in its statutes almost exclusively refers to the operations of the Sheltered Working Environment at Organoponics Garden, which was considered misleading. Due to this apparent discrepancy, the foundation’s new board and management considered it crucial to develop a mission statement to more adequately describe FSWS’ function as a whole, incorporating all three of its current departments while leaving room for anticipated longterm growth.
The foundation is now described as an umbrella organization whose mission, generally speaking, is to create and provide social and alternative educational opportunities which will enhance the personal and professional development and employability of individuals. In this regard, Charles explained further that the name of the organization, Foundation Social Workplace Saba, also left room for misunderstandings in that, similar to the initial mission statement, it refers almost exclusively to the Sheltered Working Environment currently operative at the Organoponics Garden which functions as a workplace for people with labour disabilities or long-term unemployment who are unable to find a job in the regular labour market due to various factors.
Saba Reach Foundation
Thus, the board and management, in discussion with an external consultant, decided upon the new name, Saba Reach Foundation, with a new logo which will be used as the new branding of the foundation as of January 2014. Charles also gave brief insights into each department, their highlights of the past year, and their major plans for 2014. As of this year, the Adult Continuing Education department, through University of Curaçao, will offer Dutch, English as a second language (ESL), Spanish, Papiamentu, Computer and Management classes; hospitality courses through the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute and online certificates, diplomas, and bachelor’s and master’s programmes in several fields through the University of the West Indies. Charles explained that students are already being prepared for the ESL courses by educator and Acting Island Governor Franklin Wilson. Charles explained the Second Chance Education department in the past had encountered difficulties with adequately developing the programme curricula and retaining participants. To remedy this, the board was advised by Project Bureau Manager Carl Buncamper and representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to request assistance from Foundation Forma in Bonaire to develop a new programme. As a result of this cooperation, full-time teacher Vincent Stroom was hired in August and a rigorous recruitment campaign was launched that attracted 13 participants, 11 of which remain actively involved. Since it was restarted, the programme experienced significant improvement and Charles listed the highlights of the past months.
Charles ended her segment of the presentation with an overview of the Organoponics Garden. Among the past year’s highlights of this department, Charles listed the return of the weekly markets at Breadline Plaza in Windwardside, the Art in the Garden workshop in October, the placement in the top 60 finalists of the Oranje Fonds Kroonappels awards and the visit of the King and Queen.
Charles introduced intern and Plant Sciences major Guiseppe “Peppe” Alessandrello who grew up on an eggplant farm owned and managed by his family in Sicily, Italy. Alessandrello explained his interest in the promotion of farming on Saba was sparked during his involvement in an Academic Consultancy Training group related to University Wageningen in the Netherlands who conducted research on the re-stimulation of agricultural activity on the island from March to May 2013. He explained the benefits and attractions of growing mushrooms, the ideal location for its growth, and the feasibility of starting such a business on the island. He said the step-bystep manual he developed for starting such a business and maintaining the produce could be collected at the foundation’s office.
After the presentation guests were invited to sample dishes made by no less than 15 local restaurants and caterers with locally grown produce. In the courtyard, the almost 150 guests were entertained by deejay and student Brian Hassell. Despite occasional showers, guests danced until midnight. The next Banana Salsa Party will be held on December 16.