Working Together for a Co-ordinated Response

On 25 March 2020, the Laborie Development Foundation established a virtual platform to facilitate a community co-ordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform brings together community institutions, government officers and local resource people to share information and develop a common strategy to respond to the crisis. This platform allows Laborians to remain actively involved in activities and to make the community aware of the initiatives being taken. The District Representative is a part of this coordination mechanism. He contributes information and recommendations but is not involved in the actual implementation of activities nor with relevant agencies’ work on the ground.

The community response focuses on three objectives:

  • Raise awareness of the coronavirus, clarify the protocols and messages, ensure that people adhere to established protocols, fight misinformation, and reach everyone in the community (including children);
  • assist the most vulnerable and assist with the needs of the elderly, especially those who are home-bound and most at risk;
  • mitigate the impact of the crisis on local producers and businesses, and support the continuity of their operations.

Operationalising the Response

Focusing on the most vulnerable: in times like this, the priority must always be to minimise the impact on vulnerable people and households that have lost all or most of their sources of income. The community, working closely with the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) and other partners, has therefore ensured that the support provided by government reaches the people most in need of it.

A list of vulnerable people and households has been compiled and that list will be used in all instances to determine where aid should be directed. The list was put together with input from the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Constituency Council, the Laborie Disaster Preparedness Committee, the Social Transformation Officer, the Welfare Officer, NEMO, the Youth and Sports Council and the District Representative. 


Our Credit Union, the community’s engine room: “We’re not a bank, we’re better,” says the motto of the Laborie Cooperative Credit Union (LCCU) and the COVID–19 crisis provides yet more proof that the LCCU is true to its words. To date, its initiatives include:


  • the purchase of devices (tablets and/or laptops) for Form 4 students who do not have access to the technology;
  • 200 hot meals distributed every Sunday during the month of May. Four local restaurants have been hired to prepare the meals and 3 buses are used for delivery;
  • groceries purchased from local shops to be delivered to vulnerable households in Vieux Fort North and South.  Local seamstresses will be hired to produce the delivery bags;
  • payments of $1.3 million as patronage refund to Credit Union members notwithstanding the delayed annual general meeting;
  • access to discounted loans from May to December to assist with the relaunch of economic activity;
  • work with the Black Bay Farmers’ Cooperative, to ensure that farm production does not stop; and
  • assist with the development of a mobile App to facilitate the marketing of farm produce.

Young people leading, mobilising and inspiring: the Laborie Youth and Sports Council has been critical to the quality and the positive impact of the COVID-19 response. With the involvement and support provided by the local Youth Officer, the Council has distributed packages to vulnerable mothers.  The Council is also conducting several activities to keep youth engaged, using social media and other means of communication.

Keeping our eyes open and an ear to the ground: crises like this one can have many unforeseen consequences. The community is using a practical approach to align its response to new and emerging issues, such as the potential impact on physical well-being, mental health and the illegal and indiscriminate disposal of waste.



Here is one instance of indiscriminate dumping of waste observed at the end of April near the village of Laborie.

Mobilising our community’s talent: every community has talent, but what really matters is to give people the opportunity to serve. From the seamstresses to the secondary school counsellors, from the Credit Union employees to the local restaurant operators, from the farmers to the teachers, everyone has a role to play, and everyone is playing it. 

Preparing for Recovery and a Brighter Future

Laborie has been successful in building a vibrant community tourism sector, and several initiatives are underway to prepare for a return of visitors, keeping in mind that the post-COVID world will not be the same as what we knew before. At present we are:

  • assessing the status of all operators in Laborie, to identify the needs and the ways in which individual businesses can be sustained and/or improved;
  • formulating minimum standards for tourism-related activities (taking into account the implications of COVID19) and attributing a “Laborie label”; and
  • creating a centralised visitor information facility and a mobile App.

Focusing on the present without losing sight of the future: The community is grappling with a health and economic crisis. We are doing the best we can to manage the current situation but we have to continuously deal with the on-going economic challenges. Let us use this crisis as an opportunity.

This is why the Laborie Community is encouraging everyone to think about The Laborie We Want; what plans are to be made and actions be taken to ensure the continuity of local businesses and prepare for recovery.

We believe that, as “every cloud has a silver lining”, the crisis we are living through can be transformed into a period of reflection and reshaping so that our community post-crisis is closer to the way we envision it.


In honour of the sacrifices of the frontline workers who give so much in support of our communities in this time of global crisis, members of Caribbean Grains Laborie Steel Pan created this song and video.