Photo by Amanda Richards

Flying season

Breezy dry season weather across the Caribbean makes Easter the perfect time to test your kite-building and -flying skills.

Photograph courtesy The Children’s Ark

Ark of hope

The Children’s Ark charity channels the energy and know-how of T&T’s movers and shakers to help give at-risk youth the opportunities they deserve. Zahra Gordon learns more.

Photograph by Ertugrul Kilic/DEMOTIX

Paramaribo, Suriname. 20th September 2009 -- Javanese Muslims at the end of Ramadan pray during Eid ul-Fitr at Onafhankelijksplein (Independence Square) in Paramaribo,  Suriname / South America. 

Approximately 15% of the population of Suriname are Muslim Javanese.  The Javanese Muslims from Indonesia began arriving in Suriname in the 1890s. The Suriname-Javanese community is kejawen, following the syncretic practices and beliefs of Java. In this community the keblat (qibla) expresses a unique diasporic experience and identity. From the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) villagers were recruited from Java as contract workers for the plantations in another Dutch colonial land, Suriname. Most of them were kejawen Muslims. Kejawen Islam, which was dominant in Javanese villages, is a syncretic Islam which incorporated old Javanese beliefs, including Hindu-Buddhist elements.

The Javanese arrived in Suriname without persons learned in religion. It was not until the beginning of the 1930s that partly through contacts with Hindustani Muslims some realized that the Kaaba was not located in the West, but to the northeast of Suriname. Subsequently, a number of Javanese Muslims started praying in that direction. This small group, led by Pak Samsi, encouraged people to change the direction of prayer from west to east. Since then, this small group has been called wong madhep ngetan (East-Keblat people). Later some became very critical of what was seen as the superstition and religious innovation (bidah) among the Javanese Muslims. The moderates do not openly criticize the practice of praying to the west as most of the Javanese Muslims continued to do; hence they are called wong madhep ngulon (West-Keblat people).

Javanese Muslims and Hindustani Muslims are celebrates and prays differently due to fundamental conflicts for commenting their religion of Islam. The Muslim population of Suriname is predominantly made up of Hindustani

Eid-ul-Fitr: the end of the fast

At the end of the month of Ramadan, Muslims in Suriname celebrate the joyful festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, like their fellows in Guyana and Trinidad.

Siparee Mai. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay

Miracle Mother: Siparee Mai

In a small town in Trinidad, both Hindus and Roman Catholics honour a dark-skinned statue which answers their prayers. Keith McNeal explains.

The Pitons from Anse Chastenet. Photograph by Sean Drakes/Blue Mango

Bel Sent Lisi: discovering St Lucia

St. Lucia may well be the ultimate island paradise: those glorious Pitons rising out of the sea, the Jazz Festival and Bill Fishing Tournament, beautiful beaches and flora, and now a Heritage Programme that lets you into the "real" St Lucia. Simon Lee is your guide.

Illustration by Christopher Cozier

More financial expertise for the Caribbean

Mark Wilson on a new organisation which aims to help regional governments source financial expertise when they need it.

Global Voices volunteers at the 2012 summit in Nairobi. Photograph courtesy Global Voices

Are you listening? A decade of Global Voices

For a decade, the international citizen media project Global Voices has helped break through online barriers of country, culture, censorship, and language — and the Caribbean has played a key role almost from the start. Philip Sander finds out more.

Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

It takes a crowd

“Crowdfunding” is an ubiquitous buzzword among young creative types. But how much do online platforms like Kickstarter really help? Georgia Popplewell talks to Caribbean filmmakers and artists about their crowdfunding experiences.

Healing With Horses camp participants interact with the project’s rescue horses. Photograph by Elspeth Duncan

Wishes and horses: Tobago’s Healing With Horses

Through contact with gentle equine companions and stimulating creative activities, Tobago-based Healing With Horses offers an innovative and life-changing therapeutic programme for differently-abled children. Elspeth Duncan describes a day in the life of the annual summer camp.

Students participate in a robotics workshop. Photograph by Tracy Mamoun

Alpha plus: Jamaica’s Alpha Boys School

Fans of Jamaican culture know that the decades-old music programme at Kingston’s Alpha Boys School has produced dozens of the island’s best musicians. But adapting to the twenty-first century means adding to that legacy with innovative new social entrepreneurship programmes. Tanya Batson-Savage investigates.