Richmond Vale Academy

Richmond Vale Academy


By educating people from St. Vincent and the rest of the world, Richmond Vale Academy aims to build the capacity, knowledge and confidence in its’ students. By achieving personal growth and development, future leaders of St. Vincent and of the world will take action for a more just and more sustainable world.

Richmond Vale Academy trains activists with collective abilities to fight poverty and improve the environment. In the programs at Richmond Vale Academy, we tackle life-important subject matters. That is why we are passionate about what we do. Half of the people on this Earth belong to the ranks of the poor, meaning that every day is a struggle to find water, food and shelter, get a job, send one's children to school and avoid preventable, yet often fatal, diseases.

The Academy currently runs two programs:
1. The Climate Activism Program (1 or 6 months internships)
2. Volunteer with ingenious communities in Belize (10 - months training and field work experience ).


St. Vincent & Grenadines


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I was part of the 2018 November team and I wish I could do it all over again!
The island is absolutely stunning- very mountainous with narrow winding roads, thick jungle and black sand beaches. There's a rainbow everyday and a sunset every night
The local people are very friendly and getting to know them was the highlight of the trip. RVA is on the north leeward side of the island, right near the end of the highway and at the foot of the volcano (I definitely recommend climbing it but bring lots of water!).
There is a football pitch and volleyball net with games every week and is right next to a secluded beach with a reef that is perfect for snorkeling (just be careful when it has been raining a lot because the currents get a lot stronger!). There are also a lot of opportunities to go scuba diving!
It is a 45 minute walk from the village- or 5 minute truck ride, where there's a restaurant that does great karaoke, a calmer beach and Banas' amazing food :) This is also where most of the home gardens are, so you will get to spend quite a bit of time there!
Over the course of the one month programme there will be three major projects: a school based project (we designed and built a humanure toilet for the gardens), a community based project (we investigated the home gardens to see how to improve them in the future) and a permaculture project in the schools gardens. You also get to attend morning classes with all sorts of interesting topics, and tours around the island with the wonderful Selly, join all sorts of clubs, help with the upkeep of the school and learn skills like traditional drumming and bowl making.
RVA is full of funny, interesting, friendly and compassionate people, all uniting around the same cause, you will have some amazing opportunities there. Vincy is the most beautiful place on earth and you will adore every second of your time there.
One mistake I made was flying straight back home- take the time after the project to explore the rest of the Grenadines if you can!
Blessed Love <3 :)

Yes, I recommend this program
Playing with puppies and kittens in SVG

I completed the FWP 18 month program in 2018. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life so far. I learned a lot of practical skills along the way but I really learned about myself and the way in which I wanted to live. Living with other people in a community setting can be tough and it is important to be self motivated, because this program is really what you make it. You meet some of the most amazing and creative people as well as those that push your buttons! I can't promise that you will love every minute because it is by no means easy, but it is really worth giving it a go! You have the added advantage of living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, there is no where quite like Saint Vincent!

How can this program be improved?
Make sure people know they have to be self driven to make the most of being here.
Yes, I recommend this program

I recently completed the 18 month program at Richmond Vale Academy and I recommend it highly with certain caveats. To begin it is important to know that RVA is not a school in any sense that you may be acquainted with, although there are certain classes involved for the most part what they offer is a framework within which you can learn. This means that the learning that takes place is for the most part of YOUR OWN INITIATIVE. I have seen a student spend a year and a half in the project and never learn how to plant a seed or make a compost so if you need someone looking over your shoulder or holding your hand then this is not the place for you. I would also point out that you will encounter any number of problems and setbacks be they simply the difficulties of living in the developing world or interpersonal issues with the people that you work with and if you are just there to find out what you want to do with your life you will most likely end up as a burden to those who are there to make a difference and not have what it takes to overcome the difficulties that you will inevitably face as an activist. That being said I would advise examining your reasons for participating very well before joining the 18 month program. There are other options that are less intense and better suited for those who are still "figuring things out". I would also like to point out that all development instructors are also ambassadors in a sense and need to be good examples of strong moral and ethical values and failing this will make it harder for everyone that has to follow in your footsteps and rebuild relationships with the people you have interacted with. Many students do not complete this course so making the decision to finish what you started and sticking with that is important.
Caveats aside I will restate that I highly recommend this program, I made the best of my time and learned about as much as could be learned from the experiences that I had. I have fallen in love with St Vincent and Ecuador where I worked as a development instructor and will be returning to Ecuador to teach agroforestry and permaculture and I intend to return to St Vincent periodically to see my friends on the mountain. By the time I left RVA I had been in charge of the fruit forest, ran the garden, started a fitness club, built biosand filters for a remote village in Ecuador, built a model garden in the school where I taught English, translated an Korean natural farming manual into Spanish for the staff of Humana, became a godfather, left behind a vermicompost, started a zero till patch of corn which evolved into the staple production area that is currently being designed, operated the bio-gas plant, did some amazing dirt biking in the Andes to reach remote farmers, made friends that I will keep for life and so, so much more. From my experience and from what I know of the experiences of many other students I can tell you that this program will defy your expectations. Go with no expectations for anything or anyone but yourself and you will succeed. My experience was one of growth and happiness, whether yours will be the same is up to you.

How can this program be improved?
Prepare students better for the high standards that they should be representative of and establish better accountability so that no one can skate by on the hard work and achievements of others.
Yes, I recommend this program

If you want to learn about permaculture, self sufficiency and climate change then this program is for you. In one month I have learnt so much and gained so much experience from being at the school. This program has inspired me to do more in regards to spreading the word about climate change and teach others about the best permaculture practices. There are alot of tasks and activities based in and around the school so you can learn the basics before going out into the community. I especially enjoyed teaching kids in schools about 2 endangered tree species to the carribean and planting these trees with the kids. Overall this has been a fantastic experience not only in the school but in the community with the local people too.

How can this program be improved?
Reduce the fee slightly and make more time for volunteers to be in the community.
Yes, I recommend this program
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If somebody asks me about Saint Vincent, I always answer that I was in the place about witch, I had been dreaming for a long time (without even knowing that it exists). 3 months in “Vincy” flied in a blink of an eye. Living in a community, cooking and working together opened my eyes to so many things. I still see Saint Vincent, its wonderful nature, and people in my dreams…Thinking about time in the island, and the work we have done together with a team (making an organic garden at Chateau primary school from 0; being facilitators for youth exchange) warms my heart.

How can this program be improved?
There can be more opportunities to live and work together with local families.
But in general there is nothing I can suggest:)
Yes, I recommend this program


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