The Sandals Foundation has joined local NGOs Hand2Earth and Grow In Time’s Vetiver Craft Project, making a US $10,000 investment into the Vetiver livelihood prisoner rehabilitation and re-socializing training programmes.

The investment – which will support Phase 1 of a 2-part project – will see the development of a Vetiver Heritage Craft and Design Centre to create an experiential space designed to educate the public about the use of vetiver grass in livelihood creation and land conservation. It will also showcase vetiver products made by prisoners and ex-prisoners of H.M. Prisons Kingstown and Belle Isle Correctional Facility. Income generated from products is channelled to support prisoners and their families as well rehabilitation of prisoners through skills and entrepreneurship training, including a vetiver farm project at Belle Isle.

Vonnie Roudette, Project Designer and Manager at Hand2Earth said, “Through the creation of this educational gallery, we hope to increase the potential for ex-prisoners to earn a living through the sale of products and train between 5 – 10 at-risk youth in vetiver craft production. The support from Sandals Foundation is enabling us to set up a craft production team of ex-prisoners to support the prison team production. It will also provide a physical space to interface with customers, host eco or environmental workshops, film screenings, skills training and product development workshops for artisans.”

Started in 2015, the Vetiver prisoner rehabilitation programme has trained over 160 prisoners in craft skills, sustainable farming, land conservation and eco-entrepreneurship. With teamwork and collaboration at its core, this project offers prisoners an alternative life view through improved communication skills and self-esteem, and has seen a very low rate of reoffending of 3%. Hand2Earth has also introduced a mentorship literacy program for prisoners.

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