East Winds in Saint Lucia is an intimate, luxury, boutique property, it's family-owned and supporting the local community is a core pillar of the hotel's ethos. East Winds achieves this in many ways, from employing and training local people as their staff, to using local craftsmen, artists and materials for furniture. One of the key ways East Winds gives back, however, is through the Family Foundation, which was set up by Managing Director, Judith Milne, in 2017.
When she first came to Saint Lucia, Judith discovered that children from low income families often had to leave school early because their parents were unable to buy the books they needed each year to stay in school. The average cost of books is EC$1,000 per year or US$370. Those families who did manage to keep their children in school often do so by borrowing the money to pay for books, at high interest rates, with the result of causing general hardship for the whole family as they struggle to pay off the loan before the next set of books is needed.
In a country like St Lucia, education for future generations is a powerful tool to support the families that East Winds has come to care about and help create a positive future for their children. Helping to keep children in school results in educated young people who are able to contribute to their communities and their family, breaking the cycle of poverty that affects so many families in the Caribbean.
East Winds therefore launched a project to support the children in receiving proper education by remaining in school. To achieve this, the hotel asked guests to donate US$1 per room for each night spent at the resort towards the East Winds Family Foundation. Since the project started, the hotel has been able to provide all required school books, school bags and stationary to 46 children through the support of the hotel guests.
However, since East Winds had to close on 01 April 2020 due to coronavirus, little did they know they would still be closed in August, the staff would still be at home and the islands of the Caribbean would only just be edging towards opening the borders to tourists again. The decision to close was not taken lightly, but was required for the well-being of the East Winds staff, guests and the St Lucian community.
Over the last few months, valued guests have generously helped the hotel to keep paying the staff a small amount to keep them going, through their JustGiving page. This year, St Lucian families need support more than ever; Managing Director, Judith said:
"This year more than ever our families need your help, if you can help us continue the book buying program we would be so grateful. Every penny of all the money raised from now will go towards the children's books. Thank you."
We'd love to see the Family Foundation continue and if you'd like to make a donation, we'd be so thankful. The donation link is available here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/east-winds - we're thrilled that the fundraising has already raised over £25,000!