When Grenadians shine, Islepreneur shines with them!
Wednesday, 2nd November, 2016, was an awesome and most memorable moment for 12 Grenadians as they were finally able to celebrate their hard work. It was also thrilling for me since I got to witness it all. Working under the umbrella of Grenada Schools in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development & the Environment and worldwide non-profit organisation, Room to Read, these Grenadians (yes, our people) were able to write and illustrate 6 children’s book titles which will be placed only in public primary schools throughout our tri-island state. Isn’t that amazing??
Just in case you haven’t heard, Grenada Schools is a non-profit organisation founded in 2014 by a UK couple who have been visiting Grenada for the last 20 years along with 3 local Trustees. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development & the Environment, their aim is to alleviate the problem of low literacy rates on the island by building libraries in all public primary schools throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and by providing a supplementary curriculum material to aid teachers with teaching literacy to Grade 1 students. Another part of this project is book publishing where Grenadians get the opportunity to write their own stories while others get to use their skills to illustrate.
It was so awesome to witness the reactions of some of the writers and illustrators as they held the books for the first time. There were big smiles, I heard “wowww”, “aaww” and “waaaww” and then writer Reena Andrews really touched me when the tears of joy came flowing down after she picked up her book. What a proud moment.
The journey to completion of these titles was not the easiest. It took several months to get to this stage. Grenada Schools sent out a call for writers and illustrators in 2015 and received a host of submissions, but only 12 could have been chosen – 6 writers and 6 illustrators: Neila Ettienne, Kevin Dolland, Reena Andrews, Alleyne Gulston, Alyssa & Fidelia Fisher, Sue Brathwaite, Suelin Low Chew Tung, Sheldon Charles, Stacey Byer and Jemilla Francis.
Following the call, there was an intense one-week training in the month of January 2016 for all participants facilitated by Grenada Schools’ Book Publishing Team (Below: Oonya Kempadoo, Stacey Byer and Richardo Keens-Douglas ) and Room to Read experts.
Work began right after training with deadlines, phases of submissions, editing and re-submissions of illustrations. Though tedious, their hard work paid off and they can now celebrate.
The book titles are Shaka the Nutmeg Seed written by Fedelia Fisher and illustrated by Alyssa Fisher, Omar’s Jab Jab written by Reena Andrews and illustrated by Alleyne Gulston, Ball and the Magic Crab written by Sheldon Charles and illustrated by Stacey Byer, Little Boat’s Big Trip written by Sue Brathwaite and illustrated by Suelin Low Chew Tung, Donk Olympics written by Neila Ettienne (who is off island) and illustrated by Kevin Dolland, The Lord of the Leaves written and illustrated by Jemilla Francis.
One thing I love about these books is the fact that we can all relate to them. The scenes and characters are familiar and Grenadian related. I’m now inspired to write children’s books!
I believe this is the start to something long-lasting and to a future of new authors and illustrators. Not just on our island but internationally. This event highlighted only a fraction of the artistic talent found on our island with others waiting to be discovered, but I urge you, don’t wait. Start now. Start writing and start illustrating and create your own opportunities until opportunity finds you.