GARD Center salutes the Mill Reef Fund on its 75th Anniversary for all of the incredible work it has committed to and achieved in Antigua and Barbuda. During these years the Center has been tremendously blessed by the generosity of the Fund which has allowed it to positively meet the needs of our clientele, the vulnerable in its community (At-risk Youth and Women) and the mandate to train.
When COVID-19 arrived on the shores of Antigua and Barbuda in March 2020, the country was placed under complete lockdown by the government and health protocols were enforced. Many people, especially women and youth in the workforce were severely displaced. The Mill Reef Fund contributed significantly to the retraining and re-tooling of persons residing in this twin island state. As the government slowly allowed for the reopening of the Country internally with its citizens/ residents and its borders to the wider community, many people, especially in the Hospitality industry were out of work and experienced hardships in feeding themselves and their families.
The GARD Center saw this as an opportunity to offer training and /or retraining to members of various communities. This mission was fulfilled by grant funds received from the Mill Reef Fund to conduct Climate Smart Agriculture courses with focus on Backyard Gardening and Hydroponics; as well as, Sewing Courses for Beginners. These courses were selected because the unemployed could quickly learn a skill and earn an income. Different Cohorts of training had to be undertaken to observe the rapidly changing Health Protocols. 47 Participants graduated from the CSA training courses (26 M, 21 F). One female has started her own Hydroponics farm and sells her produce. She has also developed other products from the harvesting of her backyard garden. (pepper sauce, etc.). Her husband works closely with her and now constructs hydroponic units for sale.
49 Participants completed the Beginners Sewing courses with 47 F and 2 M graduating. A 27-year old male who graduated has continued to develop his sewing skills and is now enrolled at Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE). This gentleman designed and created the Wedding dress for this year’s annual ABS Valentine Wedding ceremony.
Many of the graduates continue to flourish with their knowledge honed and are able to earn an income.
In addition, in 2020, the Mill Reef Fund provided Care Packages to 50 graduates of the Center (single mothers) for 6 months. This benevolent gesture was extremely well received by all.
The Mill Reef Fund continued to serve this nation in 2021 when funding was received by the GARD Center to conduct Remarkable Hospitality and Customer Service Training as well as Basic Baking, Decorating and Food Preparation Courses. A total of 18 people graduated, (14 F and 4 M).
Sincere thanks to the Mill Reef Fund for partnering with our Center in its delivery and upliftment of the Youth of this nation.
For More information on the Mill Reef Fund visit:
Mill Reef Fund | Improving the lives of the people of Antigua and Barbuda since 1948