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October 1, 2013

“Water Woman: Community and Sustainability in Trinidad and Tobago,” a documentary produced and directed by anthropology Professor Diana Fox, will be shown on campus Oct. 2 at noon. The film will be followed by a panel discussion led by Dr. Fox and biology Professor Kevin Curry about his work on water scarcity in Cambodia, and the global water crisis.

The film tells the inspiring story of how Trinidad’s Akilah Jaramogi and her family restored a forest ecosystem bringing clean water to their village. Making a film about this woman and her work will not only share an inspiring story, it will shine a light on an important issue, Dr. Fox said.
“There’s a big push in anthropology and in academia in general to move outside the academy and to increase our role as public intellectuals and gain a larger audience to share our insights and have a greater impact,” she said. “I thought a film could do that. Plus it is a great teaching tool.”

“Water Woman” has been screened four times in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Fox said she’s hoping the film will have an impact on the islands and here at home.

“I'm very excited and hopeful for its ability to inspire and teach not only about the community of Fondes Amandes and the agroforestry and watershed work they've achieved but also for documentary film and the impact on that community,” she said.

Dr. Fox has long studied and written on environmental and gender issues in Trinidad. “Water Woman” is an extension of that work. It was made to be informative and entertaining, she said.

“We use no third-person narration,” she said. “The community and our outside academic and activist experts all speak for themselves. But it's not just talk, there's a lot of artistry and an attempt to evoke an emotional as well as intellectual and aesthetic responses. It's my hope that viewers agree.”

According to the film’s Web site, Water Woman tells how three decades ago Ms. Jaramogi settled on a barren, deforested hillside, blighted with floods in the rainy season and fires in the dry season. Together with her late husband, Tecumah, she started a family and reforested over 150 acres, restoring health to the hills and the watershed just outside the capital city of Port-of-Spain. When her husband died, Ms. Jaramogi continued this work, initiating the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project, training community members as stewards of the forests and waters. Today Fondes Amandes is a thriving village atop a flourishing forest of 150 acres where residents have planted thousands of seedlings over the past thirty years.
“This is a great example of how a small village can bring about important change, not only in their own community but beyond,” Dr. Fox said.
The film’s crew and producers includes alumna Lydia (St. Thomas) Landim, Sarah Feinbloom and Swati Guild. Support for the project from BSU came from the College of Arts and Humanities, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs; CARS and the Anthropology Department.
Dr. Fox hopes “Water Woman” will be shown at a few U.S. festivals. Sales of the film will benefit  Fondes Amandes school programs, where classroom time can be devoted to harnessing the curriculum guide in conjunction with film viewing. (Story by John Winters)