Category: Uncategorized

l’Only a Seed

The eb and flow
Rise and fall
Of it all

Maintaining the horizon
So the clouds don’t come
Crashing down

Numbness feels safest

The rage in every tear drop
Suffering in each smile

How can I dance if my feet are rooted
In volcanic mud?

Burning to ash with each step away from soil
Sunken vessels rise again when salt dries
and fish fly from its absence

Lotus blossom if sun is allowed through
When light shelters the rain
Only the ripened fruit rots from within

So remain as a seed
Promising, yet unspoiled
Perfect in all ways fathomable
Without the need to show possibilities beyond imagination

Sometimes it’s safer to not be known
©DaraMonifah 03/21/2017
mahogany seed with Africa slipper

United Virgin Islands Kwanzaa Schedule 2015-16 | GrassrootsVI: Help us build, heal & celebrate our United Virgin Islands

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Source: United Virgin Islands Kwanzaa Schedule 2015-16 | GrassrootsVI: Help us build, heal & celebrate our United Virgin Islands

Carroll Family encourages V.I. Fathers to Support their Children on School’s First Day

Fathevi father's marchr and son team, James and Jamaal Carroll continue their personal mission of empowering and supporting young men in the community with the Virgin Islands Fathers March this September 8, 2015 starting with a rally on Saturday, August 29th.

As an attorney, judge and most recently having previously been appointed by the Governor in the position of Virgin Islands Attorney General, James Carroll III, has what is considered to be an expert perspective on what kinds of things are needed to help young people succeed, both in school and life in general.

Judge Carroll states,”Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives, earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and college.”

“This has a real objective to get the fathers to go back to school with their children,” he continued.

Having gone through the experience of losing his own son to gun violence has helped to make it one of his personal purposes to affect change in the community by being an example for young men and providing opportunities for them to have better chance at succeeding.

James’ son, Jamaal Carroll, currently holds the position of Anti Violence and Peace Initiative Coordinator at the University of the Virgin Islands. This position gives Jamaal the opportunity both to support some of his family’s initiatives as well as those directly related to the University’s students.

In addition to the V.I. Walk/Run Against Violence and Peace Walk, another of their initiatives is the VI Father’s March where they collaborate with other organizations to encourage fathers to take their children to school on the first day as well as support them throughout the school year. In preparation for the March, they hold a public barbeque and community event where they give out certificates, vouchers for free haircuts, t-shirts and other giveaways at a precursory Rally for Father’s March. They have the fathers say a pledge, committing to support their children on the first day of school and beyond.

This year, the Rally will take place on Saturday, August 29th, from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the Emile Griffith Park and on September 8th, fathers will go to school with their children as part of their V.I. Fathers March.

For more info connect with the V.I. Walk Run Against Gun Violence facebook page, website or contact Jamaal VI James Carroll or Celia Carroll.

 All images used with permission from the Carroll family.
VI Fathers March 2015 AVPI Banner with Walk Run Banner Carroll Family with McGruff at Walk Run fathers march 2 fathers take pledge peac walk

Youth Service Experiences Reinforce Life Skills

Luke and Denali Miedema made St. Thomas their home for two years and through volunteer practices of their faith, they and other members of the Bahai National Center on St. Thomas have been serving the Kirwan Terrace Housing Community for many years.

They actually met in the Caribbean when they were in Dominica. Then they moved to New York shortly after for Denali to go to grad school.

“We really wanted to find a way to come back if possible so it was pretty cool that this door opened for us,” Denali stated.

Coming from New York City, they lived in the Bahai National Center on Crown Mountain Road because Luke was working as the property manager there. Denali worked as a middle school teacher at Antilles.

They both say that they learned a lot from the junior youth. Luke said, “They just taught us a lot about the potential of that age group to really inspire others to transform themselves and to do what they can to improve their neighborhoods. They really worked a lot as a group to better themselves and their neighborhood and be positive influences on the children.”

Julia Armbruster, a retired teacher and another member of the Bahai community has also helped with the Junior Youth Group over the years. She feels that the most influential lessons were learned within small groups of your own environment.

“That’s why it’s a Kirwan group. Kirwan Terrace group, not a island-wide group, because, island-wide is harder to relate to,” she said.

Luke and Denali said they left with many wonderful memories, especially the service projects including trips to The Humane Society, making smoothies to sell and sandwiches for children in the neighborhood while learning the importance of being an example for other children in the neighborhood. Other activities included bake sales, participating in the island wide clean up and their group sleepover at the Baha’i Center was a good memory also. They ended with a final time out of their many trips to the beaches.

“We’re here at the airport getting ready to go. But, ah, our hearts are staying here. That’s so cheesy, but it’s true,” said Denali. “We’re sad to go. It’s a hard place to leave. I think it really found it’s way into our hearts and um, y’know when you leave a place you start to reflect on just all the things about it that were such blessings.”

For more information on the Junior Youth Group, visit

VI Youth Organizations and Garden Clubs Promote Agriculture

On Saturday, June 20, 2015, two local youth related organizations on St. Thomas held agriculture related activities at Plaza Extra and the Lockhart Elementary School to combat hunger and promote agriculture awareness. With a food drive being conducted by students from the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter and UVI Cooperative Extension Service office staff, as well as a school-based farmers’ market with Lockhart Elementary and Bertha C. Boschulte Middle school members of the V.I. School Garden Cooperative on St. Thomas, youth had a day of collaboratively calling attention to and gaining support of agriculture and our V.I. youth-based farming organizations.

FFA Hunger Food Drive USVI ImageLast publicized in February regarding their award winning participation at the local news during the 44th Agriculture and Food Fair of the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Croix, local FFA youth have been making a name for themselves all throughout the territory.

Texting pictures and updates with each other throughout the day, the FFA youth groups on both St. Thomas and St. Croix, held food drives out in the community at their respective Plaza Extra shopping centers to be where the people are at while the younger students stayed at their school lead by teachers and staff, with students coaxing the people in traffic to come visit them from along the roadside with a banner.

Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., the Assistant Director with the Agriculture and Natural Resources program at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, is also the District Advisor for FFA.

“FFA is all about the youth and agricultural education. Teaching our young adults about the career opportunities in Agricultural Science, but as well teaching them about being sensitive to the needs of others when it comes to those who need food,” he stated.

According to the National FFA Organization blog, “The FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge is a national, year-long program that will donate 2.5 million meals across the country before the 88th National FFA Convention & Expo this fall. FFA members use a “See It, Solve It, Share It” approach to learn about and tackle hunger issues. The FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge is part of the National FFA Organization’s “Feeding Our World – Starting At Home” movement that is compelling students to understand the issues and effects of hunger.

Students then take action to support the human right to safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food as a means of reducing hunger at home and abroad, starting with a look at the U.S. The first step is to educate teachers and students about domestic and global food insecurity. The second is to organize hunger relief efforts that give FFA members opportunities to apply what they have learned to fight hunger and promote food security for all.”

For more information on both groups send contact them at their respective email addresses: and Visit or call 340-693-1083 for the UVI Cooperative Extension Service office. You can also stay connected at their respective Facebook pages:

Proud ‘Savanero’ comes Home to Help

Born and raised a proud ‘Savanero,’ in the oldest neighbourhood of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Iffat Walker returned home to reignite a neighborhood clean-up and revitalization effort in the area of Savan. Through the internet, phone calls and visits back to the island as often as possible, Iffat continues reaching out to all individuals, grassroots organizations and government agencies who have had or continue to have a productive and supportive interest in the Savan community.

Savan Community Volunteer Interest  Meeting Photo by Dara M. Cooper

Savan Community Volunteer Interest Meeting
Photo by Dara M. Cooper

On Saturday, May 10, 2015, she organized and facilitated the first meetings.

According to Iffat, “it was very well attended and very positive. I saw the willingness to collaborate without confusion and conflict. When I look online and Googled Savan, all I saw was confusion and conflict. That did not exist today.”

“My parents and grandparents are from Savan. I went to Jane E. Tuitt Elementary, Marcelli Annex and Wesleyan Academy schools,” she stated. One of the reasons she comes back home is to organize. She does a lot of organizing in Atlanta, Georgia where she currently lives. As an accountant and a political campaign manager, Iffat expressed that what she really enjoys doing most is grassroots community organizing, “I see the opportunity to improve something, and I go after it.”

She remembers Savan being a place where they could go to sleep at night and not need to lock their doors or camp outside and not worry about anyone violating anyone’s property. Now she says, “I almost feel like I’m in an environment that I know nothing about. There is so much history and culture here, and I’m not talking about the history you read in the books. I’m talking about family history.”

Economic Development Authority Director, Nadine Marchena Kean, was present at the initial organizing meeting and showed overwhelming support. According to Iffat, “Nadine has taken on the charge of being responsible for providing garbage bins, assisting with organizing and hosting the initial planning meetings, historic presentations, research on the specification of the type of paint, public relations support as well as providing new signage for the community.”

According to Iffat, “Now we need more community buy in from other individuals, home owners, non-profit organizations, businesses, corporations and government agencies.” She thinks that some people don’t even know that they have a right to determine how they want their environment to be. Returning in July, the group intends to continue its efforts inclusive of a clean up, resources day and more.

The overall mission is to clean up and ultimately restore the Savan community. She says, “Our short term goal is to physically clean areas of identified need. Long term goals are to create sustainable programs that foster community growth and development using a community led approach.”

For more information, check out the Proud to Be A Savanero Facebook group page or the main organization’s website based in Georgia. Photos are available here.