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Last updated: 24 December, 2004 - Published 16:57 GMT
 
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Grenada finding its feet
 
A destroye nutmeg farm in Grenada
Hurricane Ivan destroyed the nutmeg industry
BBC Caribbean Radio's Debbie Ransome recently visited Grenada where she saw how the island is recoving after being destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in September.

She saw how the lives of ordinary people were affected and she also spoke to Prime Minister Keith Mitchell for his view on things.

When Prime Minister Keith Mitchell lost his official residence during Hurricane Ivan, he was picked up by a British Royal Navy ship.

His first phone call was to BBC Caribbean Radio to tell the rest of the Caribbean just how devastated Grenada had been.

So, does he think Caricom delivered? "I have been Chairman of Caricom and, as fate would have it, you never know how things happen in life. Caricom has never been more united on any single cause than they have been in respect to Grenada."

Caricom has been paying public service salaries for the three months after Ivan. "This is a further demonstration that we in the region need to get our act together and to move the process of bringing our people closer together…maybe Ivan has sent us a very serious lesson and I hope and pray that we do not lose it," he added.

Dr Mitchell is now living back in his private house: "The decision ought to be made by the people - it's not going to be by the Prime Minister top rebuild. I'm now back at my home and it is said by my brothers and sisters in my own village that they had not been seeing me enough ... They're very glad that Ivan brought me back home."

Hurricane Ivan affected everyone in Grenada, particularly the farmers. Gertrude Bobb farms in Constantine, outside the Grenadian capital, St George's. Before Hurricane Ivan, she farmed 13 acres of land with mostly nutmeg and cocoa.

"A lot of nutmeg…13 acres in all…all gone," she told BBC Caribbean Radio during a visit to her farm. She said all she has left are three clove trees, part of a pear tree, two mango trees, and one cashew tree.

Grenadian farmer Gertrude Bobb
Gertrude lost her 13-acre farm

It takes ten years from start to finish to grow and harvest nutmeg - the crop which gave Grenada its name the Spice Isle.

Gertrude said that some nutmeg stumps survived and, with some grafting, might be ready in the next five to six years' time.

So, what she's doing in the meantime? She's planted what she calls "fast food"; crops which will be ready early in the new year like beans, carrots, and cabbage.

She's also considering some medium term plans for growing bananas, oranges, other fruit trees.

Gertrude says she's not asking for a handout from the Grenadian government but she will accept help "if they offer".

"They have to get up on their foot and go…they can't just sit down so and wait…they have to get up and get," she said about her fellow farmers. "The youths don't like to work - it's more the elder heads who does fight up in garden."

She's currently doing some part-time work cleaning at a government ministry in the capital while replanting, grafting those plants which can be saved, and tending her other crops.

For Gertrude, it will be a while until Grenada returns to prominence as the Spice Isle, she feels it will be in "the next ten years".

The church remains one of the constants in Grenaidan society, Hurricane Ivan tested the faith of many Grenadians but it remains unshaken.

Despite the damage, the parishioners of St George's Anglican church attend early Sunday morning service. If it rains, they put up their umbrellas and carry on with the service.

Few areas remain covered - the chapel, the altar, and a tiny back part of the pews where the wood has been cleared.

Parishioners gathered early on after Hurricane Ivan hit to make sure they could clear the debris from the collapsed roof and shattered stain glass windows. Miraculously, some windows are still in place and the steeple looks untouched.

The bells ring out on Sunday morning as people pray, tourists from visiting cruise ships cautiously take pictures of this church service with a difference, and latecomers grab what's left of a pew after wading through puddles.

A church service goes on in a roofless church in Grenada
Even without a roof, Grenadians attend church

"Being a spiritual community, they thought we had to work and work very fast," says one official.

"Some are worshipping under tarpaulin….and others are worshipping wherever they can worship….We've had revolution, and we've had Janet…we are strong people and I've no doubt that we will be working hard to build back up from the ashes."

Some of the officials have concerns about the looting which also affected aid stored in church rooms.

"There have been members of the church who have been sleeping in the distribution centre to ensure that nobody comes in," said Parochial Council member Pamela Steele.

She advises that Grenada needs counsellors now to help people still getting over the trauma of Ivan.

But Pamela and the congregation rallied around the church after Ivan.

Even while our reporter was trying to record a Sunday morning church service for BBC Caribbean Radio, she made sure that a microphone might be in one hand but a hymnbook was placed firmly in the other.

 
 
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