bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Indian Ocean island beekeeping project

A number of disabled people have taken up beekeeping on Rodrigues, an island 350 miles from Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Here's the story of one of them:
The story of Eric Speville is typical of how this project has helped a disabled person on Rodrigues Island to live a more independent and useful life. Eric first asked for help from the Project in 1990.

He was born with a severely deformed right arm and hand so is only able to properly use his left arm and hand.

He comes from a poor family and although he did manage to attend a Government primary school, at 11 years old, formal education came to a stop. His prospects for finding employment or any activity were poor.

Rodrigues does not have an established economy, and many young people of his age leave the island to take their chances in Mauritius where job prospects are better, even if for a Rodriguan the problems of housing and adaptation are great.

For Eric with his disability this was not an option. He would find employment difficult to obtain in Mauritius.

He worked part time as a jobbing gardener for some overseas volunteers in Rodrigues, but when they left the island he was again unemployed.

He joined our project in the Woodwork and Crafts Department in 1990 and then when Michael Duggan started visiting us, Eric became interested in Beekeeping.

Today married and with three children, he has his own hives at his own house, and he also works full time in the CARECO Apiary and Honey Bottling department. He also helps train new recruits at the CARECO Centre and visits some of the disabled beekeepers in the CARECO Scheme.

He is paid a regular wage for his work in the Honey Department and he earns more cash from the sale of his own honey. He also gets a Government Pension and thus is able to live a decent life with a regular income.

In 1999 he was able to travel to the UK and man the Rodrigues Stand at the National Honey Show. He has won several awards for his Honey at this show.

He looks back at the events of his life since he joined our project as a real lifeline to progress and success.


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