St. Vincent is the largest island in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which is made up of over 30 islands and cays. The population is over 120,000, with about 30,000 living in the capital city of Kingstown on the southwestern tip of St. Vincent. This country is located in the southeastern Caribbean, in the Windward Islands. It is about 90 miles west of Barbados and the southernmost island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is only about 2 miles from the island country of Grenada (the main island of St. Vincent is about 38 miles northeast of Grenada). See the map below.

 

     The island is tropical, with an average annual temperature of 81 degrees. It has only 2 seasons, the dry season which runs from November through April; the rest of the year is the rainy season. Although it is in the line of development for hurricanes, the storms that cross the island are either tropical depressions or tropical storms; it is not hit by hurricanes.

     The population is 98% black, with about 66% of the inhabitants being of African descent. Other ethnic heritages include Carib and Arawak Indians from South America, Central American Indian, East Indian, and European.

     The country was a British colony until 1979, when it was given its independence. However, it is still a member of the British Commonwealth, so Queen Elizabeth II is still the chief head of state, with a governor general appointed by the queen and a prime minister appointed by him. Representatives to the legislative House of Assembly are elected by popular vote. 

     In 2005 a child vulnerability study was sponsored by UNICEF (United Nations International Childrens’ Education Fund) and conducted by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to determine what constitutes child vulnerability, how many children fit this definition, what is their demographic profile, what are their physical and psychological needs, and what are the barriers to satisfying their needs and protecting their rights? The study looked at 780 families randomly selected in St. Vincent and found that more than half the children in St. Vincent are “at risk,” with the main risk factor being food insecurity. In other words, over half the children in St. Vincent don’t receive enough food and have no certainty as to when their next meal will be or where it will be coming from.

 

     Poverty is rampant in St. Vincent and is a major obstacle to accessing the services that are available. For families who live so far from Kingstown that they must ride a bus to apply for assistance, the cost of the bus fare is prohibitive. Add to that the fact that there are long waiting periods for assistance and that there is the perception that free services are inferior, and the children are caught in a mire of poverty from which they cannot extricate themselves. 

 
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