A conversation with repeat guest, Heidi Roberts, from the blog Kitchen Talk
Heidi Roberts first came to stay with us during the 2nd annual Grenada Chocolate Fest as part of a UK Press Group that was covering the festival. She immediately fell in love with the island-the people, the serene natural surroundings and of course…the lush dark tree to bar chocolate.
Heidi considers herself an honorary Grenadian and hopes to one day spend longer periods on the island. Since she first came in 2015 she had returned each year to celebrate and participate in the Grenada Chocolate Fest. During her first visit and stay at True Blue she found out about our involvement with the rebuilding and revival of the Vendomme Primary School and took immediate action to support the cause. Read all about it below.
Do you recall your first trip to Grenada?
My first visit to Grenada was as part of the UK press and media in 2015 for the 2nd annual Grenada Chocolate Fest. We were taken to all the major attractions on the island. One of my favourites was the trip to Gouyave to the nutmeg factory as one of my goals was to pick my own nutmeg from the source. I learned so much about nutmeg on that trip and bought loads to take home to use and to give away.
Another favourite event was being a Cocoa Farmer for the Day at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate. I have never worked so hard and in such heat and yet I had such a great time. I vowed to return and spend some time at Crayfish Bay in the future. This year my husband, Clive, and I stayed for three nights in the rustic cabin so that we could explore the northern part of the island more.
As part of the media group we toured the island and we were taken to a great selection of restaurants to get a feel for the local food. Being a foodie I found this part really exciting.
I was told that my trip to Grenada would change my life and I really have to say it has. It has generated a desire to get to know the island inside and out, to know the local people better and to help where I can even if it is only a small start. It has also made me make a pledge to myself to return year after year if I possibly can.
How did you find out about Vendome Primary School and their need for assistance?
Russ Fielden, co-owner of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, spoke to us about his efforts to help the school and that it was an on going venture.
(Read about our involvement with the Vendomme Primary School here)
Do you remember the moment you decided to pay the school a visit after first hearing about them?
My husband, Clive, and I had stayed an extra week after the Chocolate Festival and Russ asked me if I would like to go with him as he had a cooker to deliver to the school. Another couple who were also guests came too.
What was your first impression?
I loved the general vibe of the school, the beautiful and cheerful faces of the children.
What did you notice while you were there and how did it make you feel?
As a mother and grandmother I was saddened to hear that some of the children would not have anything to eat until the following day’s lunch at school. I just wanted to do some cooking with them. I also felt that the children in the UK have so much and in many cases too much. I decided to ask my friends with little children if they had any second hand books or outgrown shoes they didn’t need that I could bring in my suitcase the following year.
The group of mums in my Facebook group – St Alban’s Mums (the town I live in) were really generous and willing to help me both last year (2016) and this year (2017) by donating any books their children had outgrown and also any school shoes that were outgrown. The children of Vendome RC School cannot attend if they do not have any shoes. As children outgrow their shoes in such a relatively short time period most of them were hardly worn so it made sense to pass them on to children that really needed them.
Did any angels help you with your mission of getting everything to Grenada?
I asked British Airways if I could take an extra suit case without having to pay for it and they agreed. I filled this suitcase with the books and shoes that had been donated and we also travelled light so we could use some of our luggage space for more things.
Tell us about your visit to the school in 2016?
This visit my husband, Clive, came with me and he understood then and there why I was wanting to get equipment to the school. We spoke to the head teacher and asked what she needed most. We had heard of the possibility of sending a barrel to the school so I decided to look into that for when we got home.
Did you plan on returning the following year ?
Yes, everytime before I leave the island I am already planning and scheming on returning the following year. I also asked the Head Teacher if we returned in 2017 whether I could do some cooking with some of the children. She was really up for that idea and asked if I could help them make pizza.
What did you have in store for Vendome School in 2017?
We wanted to send them a barrel of useful items that cost so much in Grenada.
How did you mobilize to make good on your plans?
I asked my friends for more books and shoes and my husband’s work office was closing so we were able to get hold of admin essentials such as staplers, rulers, chalk and much more. We arranged for a barrel to be delivered to us and began to fill it up. I wanted to send it so that it would arrive when we were on the island for the 4th Grenada Chocolate Festival in 2017. I also brought everything non-perishable with me to make the pizzas. I would have to buy the cheese and tomato sauce when I got there.
A friend of mine gave me £20 and asked me to buy the children some biscuits or similar from her as she wanted to do something nice.
When you returned this year, what did you do with the kids?
The 6th Grade children and I made pizza – well I just helped them know what to do and they did all the work, grating, mixing, shaping, filling. The Head Teacher said that as their exams were finished it didn’t matter how long we took that morning.
How did the pizza taste? It looked great!
The kids were so excited that the pizza barely had time to cool before they wanted to eat it. As it turned out there was enough for each child to have some and all of the teachers as well. As I had over bought ingredients I left them and all the equipment at the school for the dinner ladies to use as they saw best.
Any funny moments from that day that stand out to you?
I loved how each child wanted to help but it was funny when one of the girls picked up the rolling pin and said she wasn’t going to put it down until she got to roll some dough!
What is your most memorable moment at Vendome School over the years?
The enthusiasm of the children and how they waved us off and kept saying Thank You we had so much fun!
Have you made any plans for next year…a container maybe?
I am not sure I am ready for a container but I am going to try to crowd funding to get enough money to send a few more barrels of essentials to the school. I am also planning on doing some cooking but have not yet decided what it will be.
My daughter put a request on Facebook to her friends about the shoes. She has had many pledges of outgrown shoes which she will start collecting so that we can start the next barrel ready to send. Again all the lovely mums are more than happy to help.
What would you say to someone who sees sad realities and feels helpless?
Everyone can help someone even if it seems like a little thing to them – to the person you are helping it may make a big difference to their lives. I also think to try to think outside of the box and you will come up with ways to help – everyone has the capacity to do something to make a difference to someone’s life no matter how small.
Check out Heidi’s heart warming blogpost and call to action about her 2nd visit to Vendomme Primary School