BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS –- A win-win situation has resulted as clean-up groups have been motivated in all St. Kitts villages according to Government agency, Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) Field Coordinator William Phillip.
“STEP interns and members assigned to community clean-up groups are doing splendid work in keeping the villages clean,” Phillip said. “They are also learning landscaping skills. After acquiring the needed skills, a few have left the programme to set up their own businesses.”
Meeting in Tabernacle Village, Phillip and other STEP field officers Damien Weekes and Jason McKoy visited the community clean-up crew that takes care of the Tabernacle cemetery. They were received by Field Supervisor for Tabernacle, Mansion and Christchurch villages Keith Phipps and Group Supervisor Campbell Mercer.
Every day, STEP interns cut the grass, dispose of the green waste and make sure that the landscape is in good order. By doing those tasks, the interns are empowered by STEP, which provides each intern with weed eaters, rakes and wheelbarrows. During the process they are trained to do landscaping.
“That is the kind of empowerment we are looking,” Phillip said. “They learn a skill and venture into the type of operation they like and then teach others that skill. It is not just employment. STEP is not an employment agency. It has been changed and moved from a People Employment Programme to STEP.”
Phipps noted since that clean-up crew was assigned to work at the Tabernacle cemetery he has seen great changes, which are also appreciated by the villagers.
“This area by the cemetery was overgrown and when the STEP group took control of it there are obvious results,” Phipps said. “Everybody is commenting how wonderful the place looks. There have been significant changes. One day a young lady called and told me she is very proud to see the work being done within the community, and thank God, STEP is doing great work.”
“STEP interns are willing to do landscaping work,” Phillip said. “In addition to earning a salary and making their communities look clean, they are learning a trade.
“Some former members have left the programme and gone to the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis to obtain loans. They bought their own equipment and are now doing landscaping on their own. Some of them have come to STEP to request interns to work for them. That is how the STEP is supposed to work.”