MCT supports training in basket weaving  initiative at HM Prisons
October 21, 2016
MCT supports training in basket weaving initiative at HM Prisons

The Mustique Charitable Trust (MCT) is supporting a skills training programme at the two correctional facilities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Trusts was approached by Superintendent Brenton Charles at HM Prisons to strengthen the production of vetiver baskets and mats by the inmates and also to extend the training to a second correctional facility at Belle Isle. This project follows {{more}}on from a successful pilot project funded in 2015 by the Food and Agricultural (FAO) of the United Nations.

Launched in October 19, 2016 at the Kingstown correctional facility, this project aims to reduce the number of repeat offenders, particularly among the 18 – 35 age group, by teaching income generating skills and entrepreneurship. This will also create a significant increase in access for vetiver products, which has declined in recent years. Traditionally, vetiver was planted in St Vincent and the Grenadines to prevent erosion on banks and roadsides, but the practice has declined. This project will integrate conservation through, environmentally sustainable handicraft production with a social component. Vetiver grass reaches its optimal height within four months of planting and its proximity to the Belle Isle penitentiary provides a plentiful, renewable resource for basket and mat making.

Over the next year, participants, selected by expressed interest, will receive 15 hours per week training/instruction in the planting, harvesting and handling of vetiver grass and the construction of various products. Experienced project coordinator Vonnie Roudette and her team of trainers have already noted the enthusiasm and skill level of the 17 participants who have just started the training. Entrepreneurship training will also be conducted to encourage self-employment.

Funds derived from product sales will provide the inmates with an income to contribute to their family’s welfare and support operational programme costs in the future.