By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
IN CELEBRATION of Earth Day 2015, the One Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) hosted its third annual festivities this weekend, at which members commemorated their hard work and promoted opportunities ahead, encouraging partnership and leadership throughout Eleuthera, the Bahamas and the World.
One Eleuthera is a non-profit development organisation led by a committed Board of Directors and founded to identify and invest in unique, high-quality projects that strengthen Eleuthera’s communities and further the economic, environmental and social development of the island.
The group kicked off the anniversary weekend with a Pre-Earth Day Reception at the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Centre, hosted by the Rotary Club of Eleuthera.
The main celebration, Earth Day Fest, was held on Saturday at Bay Front Park Governor’s Harbour under the theme ‘Eleuthera Leading the Way’.
The event highlighted local environmental projects and showcased future plans for the island in which economic sustainability and environment go hand-in-hand.
Jacqueline Gibson, General Manager at the Tourism Department in Governor’s Harbour and OEF Board Member, said at the Pre-Earth Day Reception they tried to not use any lighting unless it was solar or candle, sources that were environmentally friendly.
“The Rotarians hosted a potluck where each person focused on things locally grown. Everyone brought something that was connected somehow to the earth, encouraging us to utilise what we have. It was a fun social which was also focused on protecting the planet and really getting the conversation in a sustainability setting,” said Ms Gibson.
Giving a brief on the OEF, Ms Gibson said the organisation has made a tremendous impact over the past few years, with a staff of 14 working at various partner offices such as the South Eleuthera Emergency Partners, The South Eleuthera Mission and The Eleuthera Culture and Art Show. She said that while the idea is to make employment available, it is also to allow each organisation to be self sufficient.
“We are also known for our grant writing. We have partnerships with the Susan G Komen Foundation as well as the Cancer Society. The One Eleuthera Foundation is really making a big difference in impacting health care. Each year of our existence, we have held a seminar where we have brought doctors from around the Bahamas and internationally, once a year to focus on pressing health issues,” said Ms Gibson.
The foundation is seeking to acquire an imaging machine for the Cancer Society of Eleuthera that can also be available for people living in the Southern Bahamas.
“At this point in Eleuthera, if you need a mammogram you have to jump on a plane, go to Nassau and have your mammogram done. Thankfully at the moment we have the Ride For Hope organisation that has used Eleuthera as a pilot where we took 15 women at a time into Nassau to get free mammograms. Now we probably go twice a year, but the goal is if One Eleuthera is able to facilitate an imaging machine, it will truly impact lives because people won’t have to go to Nassau, and we are hoping that we would also be able to assist women in the Southern Bahamas where they can fly into Eleuthera and have their mammograms done,” said Ms Gibson.
By hosting Earth Day Fest, Ms Gibson is hoping as many people as possible make an effort to visit Eleuthera and get an appreciation for what they are trying to do to protect the island.
What stood out most to her at the main event were the vendor booths that were built of branches from the Casuarina tree. At the end of the day, she said they were all donated to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve to be recycled.
“Our South Eleuthera Emergency Partners had a mulching machine right on site. We are trying to do our best to rid the island of invasive trees so we did the mulching on the spot at a good price. We also had the Bahamas Plastic Movement speaking on the plastic movement and figuring out ways how we can recycle. The Cape Eleuthera Institute was also there speaking and doing presentations on the Lion Fish invasion and Conch conservation,” said Ms Gibson.
Many were fascinated to see Annis Antrobus, a local baker from Savannah, Sound Eleuthera, who utilised the park’s outdoor rock oven to bake her treats on the spot. Food lovers also enjoyed local products like the coconut and pineapple tarts.
“There was a lady that sold tea bags and spoke about the remedies and what they are good for. Also, the whole site was actually a bottle-free recycling zone but we were excited to have a young man from Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera, who transformed bottles into cups. We encouraged people to bring their favourite bottle; the only bottles we actually allowed in the bottle-free zone if you wanted to recycle and get this transformation done,” said Ms Gibson.
With the lack of awareness on the island, Ms Gibson said there are still a lot of people throwing trash on the sides of the street, using a lot of styrofoam and plastic. She said the overall goal is for Eleuthera to become an economically sustainable island and only then, they can truly say Eleuthera is definitely leading the way.
See The Tribune tomorrow for an Earth Day 2015 supplement.