Decades ago, Akilah Jaramogi and her husband Tecumah settled down on a barren hillside, right outside of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, with the sole purpose of turning the desolate hillside into an agro forest. Through the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), they have converted over 125 hectares of land into a thriving forest once more, and East Sider Diana Fox wants to bring to light all of the work being done. An anthropology professor at Bridgewater State University since 2000, Fox specializes in English Speaking Caribbean and regularly travels to Jamaica, Tobago and Trinidad, and even taught in the West Indies with a Fulbright Scholarship, working with water scarcity and gender roles. Armed with a camera, a small crew and a passion for water conservation and reforestation, Diana headed to Trinidad to produce her first film, Water Woman: Community & Sustainability in Trinidad.
During a trip to the Caribbean Water Network Conference in 2005, Diana met Akilah and learned all about Fondes Amandes and the work she had started. In an e!ort to spread the word on community reforestation, Diana decided to travel to Trinidad to film and document the Jaramogi’s project.
In December and January, Diana was in Trinidad with Sarah Feinbloom, Swati Guild of Sarafina Productions, a film company out of California, her boyfriend and her daughter. Her desire to document Akilah’s project through a film reflected a notion that it could reach a wider audience and that “all over the world, people can be inspired,” she says. “It’s a microcosm of our world… everywhere water is becoming scarce and they have developed a self-sustaining water supply through reforestation.”
The climate in Trinidad being what it is, the dry season sparks fires over the dry forests, and the wet seasons flood the area, leaving silt behind. In the late 70s, Akilah and her husband began planting bamboo in the area, as a way to anchor the dirt in place, allowing the growth of thousands of other plants. Even after the death of her husband, Akilah still works on the 125 hectares with her children and community workers. She has applied for grants and funds from the UN, the Trinidad government, BP, development programs, industry and corporations. The FACRP maintains the forest, writes grants, run children’s groups and camps and work with university projects.
Today Fondes Amandes is a thriving village atop a flourishing forest of 150 acres where residents have planted thousands of seedlings over the past 30 years. The community is visited by international dignitaries and Akilah is heralded as the Wangari Maathai of Trinidad. This film will tell the story of Akilah, the Fondes Amandes villagers and their remarkable achievements. With what she called “cooperative effort” in which she was “more of a collaborator with the community than a producer,” Diana hopes that Water Woman will be used as an educational tool for students to spread word on community reforestation, and as a way of informing other communities that they can connect with local resources and with their own governments for help in any projects.
Diana’s main focus for Water Woman: Community & Sustainability in Trinidad, being completely shot, is editing and marketing. Through two grants from Bridgewater State University, fundraisers and an indiegogo campaign that just recently ended, her project has raised roughly $13,000 out of a projected need of $25,000. Her plans are to have the film edited and ready this summer and to be screened at the Cable Car in Providence, and entered at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival the following September. If you would like to donate or help in any way, please contact Diana Fox.
Check out the trailer for Diana's film: