12 Feb 2019 - How conservation efforts such as this GEF project provide income-generating opportunities to local communities in the Caribbean.
It was a good thing that it was pitch black as I sat chatting with Dianny on the beach late that night as we waited to hopefully see a leatherback sea turtle lay eggs. While talking about her work, she paused and pointedly said to me “never forget you change people’s lives.” She couldn’t see how this one sentence had caused tears to well up in my eyes emphasizing the impact of our work. When I read project statistics (like that a project will work with 300 farmers), it is easy to forget that they each have their own story and that the GEF is about much more than tons of carbon emissions reduced or hectares conserved.
For Dianny, a woman without a high school diploma, options were limited, which also meant her power was limited. One of the major impacts of GEF projects is that women can become financially independent from men for the first time in generations. Or ever. This means that they can leave abusive partners, they no longer have a precarious existence as single moms and/or they even start to gain more respect and leadership within their communities. Women also use their new-found resources for things that advance their families and communities, such as education. Dianny helps her siblings and parents as well as supports herself and her child with her business and has become a strong advocate for environmental protection in her community.
Dianny designs jewelry using lionfish fins, coconut shells, aluminum cans, sea glass, and other things she finds, selling her creations to the many tourists who visit her home on Caye Caulker. Dianny buys lionfish fins from her family and other fishers, which increases the value of each lionfish caught (important in encouraging more fishers to go after this invasive menace).
She and her group know that, through their jewelry making, they are helping to fight a species that threatens the well-being of the reef, upon which their communities entirely dependent for food and tourism revenue.
CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/@theGEF/never-forget-you-change-peoples-lives-eb1af16dc3c4