Sun’s Out, Vests Out: A Week in Grenada with the Grenada Red Cross Society

Ricco Iglesias

Ricco Iglesias

3rd Year, Master in Business Administration and Health Services Administration

Grenada was an incredible experience. Since landing on a Friday afternoon, I found myself slowly falling in love with the country as each day passed: its chocolates, the celebratory streamers donned in the country’s colors marking Grenada’s 50th year of independence, the aromatic spices gracing every meal, the turquoise beaches, and the kindness of the people.  Undoubtedly, this experience was made memorable and more colorful by the warm hospitality of our sponsor, Grenada Red Cross Society (GRCS), and the shared laughs among the PHAST  cohort. 

My most treasured experience of the trip, however, was all the community engagement conducted with my team. Sporting our blue Red Cross volunteer vests, we sought to understand the attitudes and challenges that Grenadians’ felt towards voluntary blood donation through interviews and community surveys. Every day, there was a new destination –  the primary school with an abundance of children running around, the spice market where we left with both stories and spices to take home, a construction site, a police station, and more.  We even went to a blood bank where my teammate gained first-hand experience of donating blood in the country to map the donor experience. After each long day, we took the vests off and enjoyed a soak in the pool, ruminating on our insights and summarizing our findings. The  long week of gathering data culminated in a final presentation with preliminary findings to our colleagues and partners from both GRCS and the Ministry of Health. 

I loved my community engagement experience in Grenada. I learned abouts the altruism that Grenadians possess when it comes to helping each other out, especially in need. In all my conversations with the vendors in the market or the men outside the construction site – there is heart, warmth, and pride in being a Grenadian. As my team develops recommendations for a sustainable blood supply in Grenada, it will be important to build on this key core value that many Grenadians have.