Fighting Alongside the Poor in South America and Caribbean

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Study & Action Program:
With this 10-month program, we join hands with activists all over the world to fight for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty in some of the poorest regions of the world. We believe that this kind of activism is needed more than ever, and we invite you to join the Richmond Vale Academy team of likeminded people for an action-based and fast-paced program, learning and creating positive change through humanitarian work.

Program Structure
Part One - 3 months: Training in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Part Two - 6 months: Project period in Belize or Ecuador
Part Three - 1 month: Conclusion and information period in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

1. Field Work Certification from Humana People to People
2. Certification of Completion from Richmond Vale Academy

Program starts in October.

  • Live and thrive in a community with people from all over the world
  • Study about Poverty and learn to analyze the reasons for why people are poor
  • Learn to grow food in Climate Smart Agriculture with permaculture design principles
  • Improve your social and practical skills
  • Hike in the wonders of St. Vincent and dive to see coral reefs


Poverty is a scourge in our society. You will through this program learn the reason for poverty and you will also do something about it by working bottom up projects with poor people. You will spend the first 3 months in St. Vincent which is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean and you will work and implement projects with people in Ecuador or Belize. You will realize that poverty is not a static thing but that we can do something about it. Bringing energy and good mood and project implementation into communities will help break the evil circle of poverty.

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Questions & Answers


8.91 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • Impact 8.5
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 8.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 11
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Yes, I recommend this program

The fastest 18 months of my life

They say that time goes by fast when you are having fun. I have to both agree and disagree. I have enjoyed my time at the Fighting Shoulder to Shoulder with the Poor program of course, and I can't even remember all the happy moments I have shared with my teammate and other students and teachers from our little school community. But it's not all about that. These past 18 months have made me experience different things every day.

The first six months taught me to be open minded. I have realised that there is a history I have not been told, which steers the way the world turns today. It was an intensive online study period, which among all the information about worlds economics, globalisation, climate change or health and nutrition taught me to be patient, mainly with myself. The theoretical studies combined together with practical permaculture gardening activities and food preservation actions have prepared me for my time in the field.

Next six months, which I spent working on projects in a Maya community in Belize were a mixture of everything, you name it. I don't think I have ever laughed as much as with our Belize youth group, I have also never felt so exhausted, frustrated, motivated, helpless, optimistic,.... all at the same time. Learning that everyone behaves according to their context, the way they have been brought up and the conditions they live in, was a big lesson for me.

The last six months seemed slow and relaxed compared to the busy time in Belize but yet, they've made everything come together. I have finished studies about the reasons of poverty, passing the last exam was so exciting, but it wasn't the end. I have learned many things but there is still more. Whether it is from interesting conversations, from working in a community garden or through teaching new teams, I have realised that knowledge is a crucial tool which needs to be shared and passed on over and over.

Fun is important, but I believe that it was the feelings of being useful and being able to make a change, however big or small in our complicated world that made my 18 months program fly by. There is still so much more to do but we all have a new paths to go. I have no doubt that Richmond Vale Academy together with Humana People to People Belize had prepared me for a journey which is worth the travel.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be prepared for anything and embrace it. Make the most of it! It is really very much up to you whether you leave satisfied or not.
Playing with puppies and kittens in SVG
Yes, I recommend this program

Achieving Personal Development

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Make sure people know they have to be self driven to make the most of being here.
Yes, I recommend this program

A program for the truly dedicated

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience

Participating in the fighting with the poor program, was one of the best decisions in my life. It's a program of getting to know new perspectives, learning about different important topics, getting to know yourself and all of this in very nice peaceful set up surrounded by people who all strive for one common thing, make the world a more equal, better place. The first six months in St. Vincent I learned so much about all kind of different topic: permaculture, organic gardening, history and most of all who the world actually works today. You get as much as you put in to yourself, it's really a open environment that pushes you to step out of your comfort zone to get to know the real you. Its based on another kind of learning, where the general divisions of teacher - student is build up totally different, in a equal way. My other six months in Ecuador is truly the most beautiful period of my life. It's not easy but like the program says, you really get to life shoulder to shoulder with the poor what means in every aspect. It demands a lot of yourself but you get so much more back. I had the opportunity to work in a little community in the south of Ecuador where i met beautiful people and got a lot of support of the local government. With every idea i came with they would try to help me as much as possible. I gave English classes, nutrition classes , built family gardens and community gardens and as individual project I developed together with the local government a community library.

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Yes, I recommend this program


I enrolled the programme 8 years ago and I love it. At the first moment I thought the training would be predominantly as the normal system, but for my good surprises the overall programme isn´t based by old structures as the challenge that you wanna do/work for.... this it means that you will stretch your mind in the intellectual and spiritual sides.

You can and wanna get what you are looking, just need to be determinate and work hard for that. To live in SVG change my life, because you are out of your comfort zone and so.. you learn A LOT. You will live so many intensive feelings and the goal is to manage well! at the scale for grown yourself and the team with who you are working.

Also the food is very special once Richmond has its own organic production! sounds amazing right? imagine how you will change eating healthy, having the opportunity to know SO many people, cultures, colours, flavours and more in a perfect Caribbean sunset scenery! Never saw a better sunset sky show while my 8 years travelling around the world.

SVG is magic! and Richmond it will be always a home <3

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Yes, I recommend this program

From SVG to South Africa - my stint at the Richmond Vale Academy!

The journey began in March 2009, when I enrolled myself in the Richmond Vale Academy's development instructor program. I joined a team with 18 other persons from all across the world including Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, the United States and Japan. The first 6 months was spent doing community work including recycling bids, hiv/aids awareness campaigns and teaching in schools within the region. We were also involved in Gardening, fundraising, cultural nights and morning courses. The courses covered the history of St.Vincent & the Grenadines, current affairs, and health education. A lot of the work which was covered was done through the "learning by doing" method which meant that everyone benefited from each other's knowledge, which proved quite beneficial when I started in my project in South Africa in November the same year.
Journey to south Africa
Total Control of the Epidemic in South Africa was an HIV/ AIDS awareness program that was aimed at stemming the rampant spread of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic through empowerment of local people. As a development instructor the community outreach and cultural events conducted during the prior 6 months at the Richmond Vale Academy proved quite useful when having to adapt to the Africans who were of a totally different background, and had different beliefs, concepts and understandings. I partnered with local government ministries to assist in getting the locals certified to perform pre and post HIV 'test counselling, as well as conducted classes on health, as well as exchanged lessons about culture during lessons. I assisted in setting up gardens that were used to feed persons who were already infected, as well as organized events for persons who were of vulnerable groups to receive information.
I returned to the Richmond Vale Academy for 2 months which was used to share my experiences. This was done through classes with other students who were enrolled to take part in similar programs, radio, television and newspaper interviews. After having time to reflect, the program proved to be quite educational and was a great eye opener and aided a lot in my personal development.

What would you improve about this program?
The classes, courses and events can be better structured and/or strategic so the persons going into the projects may have better insight as to what their expected roles would be.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Do you dare to challenge yourself?

Richmond Vale Academy is a very special place, running different programmes at the same time. As the participant you will be fully immersed in the running of the international community of activists which aims to be self-sustainable. You will also spend 6 months in Latin America, living the lives of the local people and trying to improve them - or rather, to help the people improve their own lives. This is what first drew me to this programme and to me still remains one of its bigger values: you don't go to some exotic place with an idea how to change it and just do it; instead you must always get the community's support with the projects you are running. That way you are sure that the projects are important, otherwise nobody would voluntarily spend their free time helping you!

18 months is a long time to spend away from home, and work hard. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world, and make wonderful new friends from all over the world - provided you keep an open mind. This programme will give so much to anyone willing to take charge of their own learning experience. This is a place where you learn by doing, and the more you're willing to do, the more you will learn in the end. You can have an amazing time - but don't think it's a tropical vacation. You will be "on" the whole time and there's always something to do. It's a hard and challenging programme, but it's also an experience of a lifetime. I don't think there is anyone who's finished this programme and hasn't had their lives change directions completely.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience!

Going to RVA was a smart choise. Nice human & enviromental experience.
I learned to be more conscious and being involved with our planet and also realise of the potential damage we can cause with a simple action.
Sharing with people from all over the world was amazing and I learned from them too.
St. Vincent is a beautiful place and it is nice to know they still doing well for the local communities.
I would chose the same certainly!