GHS Young Leaders volunteer in Grenadines
This past weekend, 10 Girlsâ High School (GHS) RBTT Young Leaders volunteered and participated in a very enlightening cultural experience. The girls travelled, with four teachers, on Saturday, April 22, to Canouan, where seven of them provided their services as dancers, MCs, decorators and photographers at two weddings there. The remaining three went to Mayreau to work as a photographer and finger food chefs/servers at a wedding on that island. In the true spirit of volunteerism, Uncle Chenny offered the Canouan team free transportation in his taxi and Uncle Albert, also a native of Canouan, volunteered his services to transport the three Young Leaders in his boat âGotta Goâ to Saline Bay, Mayreau, for the wedding there.
Different tasks were done by the girls to ensure that each coupleâs day flowed as beautifully as possible. For Brannay and Charleen Francois, the girls decorated the church, performed dances and hosted their reception. Another couple from Canouan Gale and Caniesha James, also had Young Leaders decorate their reception venue and they also received assistance with the hosting of the reception. At the wedding of Voistin and Hazle Ann George, of Mayreau, three of the ten Young Leaders served finger foods which were provided by the Young Leaders team, and they also manually made the wedding programmes. Each brideâs wedding photos and videos were also documented by a GHS Young Leader and these were presented as special gifts to them by the Young Leaders on Sunday before the girls returned to mainland St. Vincent.
No doubt, the highlights of the Canouan and Mayreau volunteering experiences were the cultural activities, which involved the dancing of the flags and the dancing of the cakes. These age old Grenadine wedding traditions involve the young and old in the communities where the brides and the grooms live. These wedding rituals commonly take place on the morning of the wedding, with the brideâs flag and cake being danced from one side of the village and the groomâs flag and cake being danced from the other side of the village. Both flag and cake dancers are accompanied by traditional stringband music with drums and guitars and they finally meet at a pre-arranged place – quite often the location where the reception will be held later on in the day.
Usually, the bride will assign a family member, god parent or villager, to dance her cake and flag and the groom will do likewise. Villagers, family members, bride and groom are involved in the procession through the village and there is an air of fesitivity. An important part of the tradition involves the flag dancer and the cake dancer carefully dancing and holding the groomâs flag and cake purposefully higher than those of the bride. These actions symbolize the wife submitting to her husband and also the husbandâs dominance in the union of marriage.
One Young Leader in Canouan was fortunate to have participated briefly in the dancing of the groomâs cake. As instructed, she ensured that she did not drop the cake while dancing. The flights to and from Canouan was sponsored by members of the GHS New York alumni.
The GHS RBTT Young Leaders Team sends a special thank you to them for their generosity.