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The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia has contributed US$100,000.00 to Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc. to promote agro-processing among women in Saint Lucia.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Mr. Daniel Yi-Long Lee, Head of the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), and Ms. Catherine Sealys, President of Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc. on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, at the Taiwanese Embassy in Rodney Bay.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, and Hon. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs.
The project will entail the construction, equipping and furnishing of a modern, HACCP-certified agro-processing facility on 38,000 square feet of land allocated by the Government of Saint Lucia with research and development laboratory, training facility, processing, packaging, storage, intake, external compost shed, and demonstration plot for special plants.
The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for before this year-end and the agro-processing facility is expected to be opened by the end of 2023.
Sixty women will be trained in life skills, personal empowerment, human rights, navigating the social services, and micro-business management and technical skills relevant to agro-processing. Upon completion of the training period, 20 women will be supported with micro-grants and mentoring to start micro-businesses which will generate input for the agro processing facility.
Overall, the project is aimed at raising the capacity and skills of 60 women, thereby enabling them to earn sustainable livelihoods and to end the cycle of domestic violence which often accompanies those women who are unable to provide for themselves and their children.
In his remarks, Ambassador Chen said he was pleased that Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc. has partnered on the project, given that organization’s efforts and achievements being recognized by many regional and individual organizations.
He also commended Hon. Albert-Poyotte for her strong and visionary leadership, including her Ministry’s input in the passage of the Domestic Violence Act in March this year. Taiwan, he said, will continue to support initiatives that enhance people’s lives.
“The Government of Taiwan is very keen on youth and women empowerment, and we helped youth and women realize their full potential through several passages,” Ambassador Chen said. “Taiwan remains committed to assisting the Government of Hon. Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre in creating sustainable livelihoods for Saint Lucian women.
Ambassador Chen added: “To the women who will benefit from this initiative. I wish you every success on your journey. Thank you for taking this bold step in your road to redemption and financial freedom.”
Meanwhile, Catherine Sealys, President of Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc., said the MoU was a momentous occasion, adding that the project was in the organization’s pipeline for many years.
“This project has been something we thought about since 2014 or 2015, when we realized that it was a problem getting jobs for women who are victims of domestic violence,” she said.
“Most of them had not finished their schooling, had a number of issues, and did not have the skills or capacity required by the industries such as tourism, administration, and what have you. So we thought of this project as a way to provide economic empowerment and sustainable employment for women.”
Hon. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs, provided feedback on the initiative, stating that the occasion was both symbolic and historic.
“We are seeing an effort where civil society organizations are taking (the) initiative to advance the cause of women in Saint Lucia,” she said. “Many times, people expect things (from) Government, and when Government has not moved in certain directions, they blame the Government. But here we see a case where civil society is actually taking the initiative and challenge in mobilizing the necessary resources to achieve some of our objectives.”
SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Headline photo: His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, joins Hon. Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, Minister for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour and Gender Affairs; Mr. Daniel Lee, Head of the Taiwan Technical Mission; and Ms. Catherine Sealys, President of Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc., at the MoU signing ceremony.