An amazing 28 years have past for a non-profit NGO, The Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center, which operates under the auspices of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas. Amazing, because many NGOs do not have this survival rate, mainly due to lack of financial support, which has become ever more difficult over the years with increasing demands from more impoverished nations with greater needs.
However, the GARD Center has managed to hold its own through what the Executive Director, Mrs. Roberta Williams calls, the Hands of God, which have led this organization along with an extremely passionate and dedicated staff, and volunteers who believe that at-risk youth in this Nation require another chance to become productive citizens. This is being carried out through technical skills training, entrepreneurship, counseling, life skills and other holistic training to make a well rounded young adult.
During the week of November 13-19 which is Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), GARD Center will take this time to celebrate its anniversary and to commemorate and recognize some of the persons who have graduated from the Center’s training programs and who have become successful entrepreneurs establishing a variety of small businesses in farming, agro-processing, ICT, clothing and design, handicraft and others.
Over 160 countries around the world will be carrying out activities to mark the occasion of GEW 2017.
Small business development can open doors for many young persons to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves, as well as generate employment for others. In Antigua and Barbuda there is a youth unemployment rate of 35% (Min of Labour Survey 2016).
The GARD Center’s activities include: appearances on the Observer Marketplace show, ABS Good Morning Antigua & Barbuda show, a pictorial display of some of GARD Center’s entrepreneurs at ACB, St. Mary’s Street Branch, as well as Presentations at 4 schools on the topic of Entrepreneurship throughout the month.
The Board and staff of the GARD Center wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the trainers who continue to share their skills and knowledge with our trainees, the employers who provide the needed experience through internships and in many cases permanent employment for young GARD Center graduates.
Also to the volunteers, collaborative and donor partners who make it possible for the Center to continue its pace setting and impacting programs that positively change the lives of young at-risk men and women who otherwise could have selected negative and destructive activities out of frustration and despair. It is what the GARD Center is all about “Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees.” Isaiah 35:3.