Blindfold relay was one of the interesting games the volunteers played at the Dinner and Games held on August 24, 2010 at Bloomfield Great House. The event got underway at some minutes after four, a lovely appetizer of pumpkin or red peas soup was served. The dinner was done buffet style. Baked chicken, Fish kebabs, rice and peas, tossed salad, candid sweet potatoes and fruit punch was on the evening’s menu. The volunteers ate their fill; some even had seconds, and was ready for the games section. A game of Assassin was played-Assassin is a card game in which each player takes turns guessing who the Assassin is. After that a game of reverse limbo was played, in which two paper bags were placed on the floor and individuals took turns trying to lift the paper bags from the floor using their teeth. Two very tall, flexible and svelte volunteers went neck to neck in a very tight competition-the game ended in a draw. The last game of the evening was very crazy and competitive. Yes the blindfold relay was frenzy and till the end no one knew who won because we were all blindfolded. There two teams of eight
So for our Cultural Experience aka Day Trip here in Jamaica we visited the Green Grotto Caves, in St. Ann. Early Thursday Morning- August 26, 2010 to be exact, nineteen volunteers and five staff members met up at the Projects Abroad Jamaica Office to begin the two hour bus ride to visit the caves. The experience was a good one a mix of nature and history combined to give us an all encompassing tour.
The volunteers were able to learn some of our history, by hearing the Tour Guide retelling tales of the Slaves who used the caves as an escape route, to escape from their masters so as not to return to slavery. The tour guide tried on several occasions to spook the already spooked volunteers who he warned that they were not alone in the caves as, ‘others’ were with them.
We all learned of the stalagmites and stalactites that were found in the cave. These are the jagged outcropping of stones found in the caves. We later found out that the ‘others’ the Tour Guide referred to was in fact creatures shaped out of the stalagmites and stalactites. We saw ‘Iggy’ the Iguana and Mr. Joe, the Rabbit.
The volunteers were taken to the in-cave lake, which is forty feet deep and also to the wishing well which goes down forty-seven feet. At the lake the Tour Guide turned off all the lights to somehow give us an idea of how hard the slaves must have had it, having to make their escape in total darkness, when suddenly a loud splash was heard. A lot of screams were heard and then the lights came back on-the Tour Guide was the one responsible-in his bid to scaring us he tossed a huge stone in the water. All in all it was a well spent forty-five minutes.
After the Green Grotto Tour the volunteers were taken to Ocho Rios, where they had lunch and visited the Craft market and did their shopping. Later everyone went for Ice-cream at the famous Devon House Ice- Cream Shop.
My name is Kush Thakrar and I took part in the two week special community building project in Jamaica.
After landing at Montego Bay Airport on Saturday 7th August, I was met at the airport and taken to my host family. I spent the following day with them too.
On the Monday, I was taken to Mandeville for an induction by Stacy-Ann Barrett who is part of the Projects Abroad Jamaica team. I met many other new volunteers and spent this day becoming familiar with my surroundings. The following day, I went to South Manchester for an induction to my placement. I met my supervisor as well as getting an idea of the kind of work I was going to be doing. At 2pm, we had a Patois and Jamaican culture class. This gave a great introduction to Jamaica and its rich, vibrant culture and I even learnt to greet others in Patois.
On the Wednesday, I returned to South Manchester to help build a housing structure for pit toilets. My job mainly entailed of measuring and marking wood to be cut, holding and supporting planks as they were hammered in with nails and putting in screws using an electric screwdriver. On the Thursday morning, I helped make pedestals for the toilets. This was done by filling pre-made moulds with concrete. We left these to set overnight and returned to South Manchester to continue building the housing structures around the toilets. On the Friday, we continued building the toilets.
I spent Saturday in Negril at Kool Runnings Water park with my host family. On the Sunday, I relaxed by Bluefield's Beach.
The following day, I started on a new task. We had to paint a one-roomed house. We began by painting the doors white, and the inside of the house yellow. We faced many challenges and had to solve these by innovating in different ways. For instance, we searched for a long branch to use as an extension for the paint roller. For the places that were to high for us to reach even with the extended roller, we clambered on tall barrels that were used by the family for storage.
On the Tuesday we painted the outside green. Being in rural Jamaica, we drew energy from coconuts, guineps and mangos that surrounded us. That evening, there was a reggae dance class. Learning these dance moves proved a real struggle for me! The class however was enjoyable and as with the previous class, it gave me a real idea of Jamaican culture. Myself and the other volunteer on a two week special project were taken to the cinema to watch a film that evening. On the Wednesday, we returned to the house that we had painted so that we could clean up any paint that had spilled onto the floor. It rained very heavily that day for long periods so carrying waterproofs was useful.
On the Thursday, we spent the morning shopping in Mandeville for bed sheets, curtains and food for the family whose house we had painted. In the afternoon, we returned to that house and fitted the bed linen and put up the curtains and gave them the food. The family were elated and were grateful for all we had done for them. On the Friday, we had dirty day where we had to paint a school. This was a great opportunity to meet and work with other volunteers who were working on different projects.
My trip to Jamaica was an incredible experience. I was wonderfully looked after by the staff at Projects Abroad and by my host family.
My host family even introduced me to some Jamaican food. I thought that it was vital to seize every opportunity given to me by working as hard as I could on my project and by attending the classes offered by Projects Abroad.
Dirt Day was a blast!! All the volunteers met up at the Waltham Early Childhood Institution and got their ‘dirty on.’ Approximately twenty-six (26) volunteers turned up to paint the inside classrooms of the Waltham School. The school caters to children age three to six years and places emphasis on early childhood development.
Volunteers and staff of Projects Abroad Jamaica arrived at the school in several taxis around 9:00am. We all got to work by taking down the charts and other materials used for decorations off the walls; we applied two coats of Sundance (a light yellow colour) as the top colour and Bonanza Gold for the bottom. The painting was completed really quickly as everyone worked efficiently and professionally.
At lunch time the volunteers were treated to having a bite of various Patties from Juicy Beef, our local Jamaican Patty Company. Some had Chicken Patties, others tried the Beef Patty and the vegetarians tried the Soy Patty. They ate their fill and cooled down with a beverage of their choice.
As we worked to clean up and put the finishing touches on the walls, we sang along to some of the popular dancehall songs. One of the popular songs for the Dirty Day was Vybz Kartel’s song, ‘Straight Jeans and Fitted’ the volunteers had a good vibe going and it showed in the quality of work they did. Some of the volunteers also assisted in cleaning the windows of the classrooms.
Principal of the school Mrs. Paulette Dennis said that she loved the colours, and loved the work that was done. She was elated and it showed in her facial expression as she surveyed the work that was done. Good work guys. Thanks!
Kush Thakar and Julie Houpert are hard at work in Grove, South Manchester-Jamaica to be exact. On a warm and clear Jamaican day these two-weeks building volunteers are giving Mr. and Mrs. Williams, a husband and wife team from the tiny rural district of Grove, a wonderful gift; the gift of security and comfort. They are currently remodeling Mr. and Mrs. Williams’ tiny house. They have been painting and redecorating, the house to give it a face-lift. They have also done some flooring work. Stacy Ann Barrett- Office and Project Assistant for Culture and Community, mentioned in a previous conversation that, “We want it to look pretty.”
Kush is a seventeen year old British volunteer, who says he is enjoying himself immensely. Julie on the other hand is from France, who barely understands English, but has a clear understanding of the spirit and pride of volunteerism. Julie gushes in halting English, “It’s good to be here.”
Projects Abroad Jamaica Office and Project Assistant for Culture and Community, Stacy Ann Barrett says that she is very proud of her volunteers; she adds that they are hard working and dedicated to the service.
The Building Project was launched in August 2009. Pastor Henry, overseas the general project of building or remodeling houses for the less fortunate in South Manchester. Projects Abroad Jamaica provides the volunteers to construct or remodel the houses, as well as assisting in the purchasing of household materials such as curtains, towels, sheets and even food items. The first volunteer started on the Building Project in October 2009. Kush and Julie are carrying on the work of past volunteers who have already made their contribution to the Building Project. Building a house may help to build lives. Keep building guys!!
Tessa at dance class (At front in white pants)
After hearing about Projects Abroad and the 2-week special they offered for high school students, I know it was something I had always wanted to do, but choosing where to go was a different matter. I eventually chose Jamaica, as everything you hear about it is only good. Before I knew it I was on a ten hour flight from London, Gatwick to Montego Bay.
Coming from Ireland, it was a huge culture shock, but everyone was so welcoming that you could not help but feel at home and never want to leave. The children at Hanbury Home were no exception; they constantly wanted to braid your hair and constantly said, ‘Too much hair.’ They were always enthusiastic to take part in whatever activities you planned, and although my 7-9 age group were hard to control at times, once they started, it was hard to stop them. Our activities ranged from making masks and hand puppets in arts and crafts to teaching them to dance from Hannah Montana which even the boys enjoyed.
Like most people, I came to Jamaica with an image in my head of Usain Bolt, Bob Marley and sunny weather, although I did not see Usain bolt, I heard Bob Marley and learned that it rains a lot, but I did come away learning so much more about Jamaica, not least the food.
I think it can be said that everyone had a little trouble getting used to the food, but that no one is going home without being a convert to Jerk Chicken. Everyday something would appear on our plates that we hadn’t tried before like guineps, plantain and dumplings, not to mention plenty of fruit punch.
Our trip wouldn’t be complete without a break at the weekend to areas of interest in Ocho Rios, YS Falls, and a rainforest in which we got to swim in a natural pool beneath a waterfall. These two days were a great opportunity to get to know all the other volunteers.
Other social activities with the group included a trip to the cinema, a reggae dance class which involved an orphanage dance- off, which I am proud to say we won!
Living with a host family brought a new aspect to Jamaican life, it meant we could experience life from a locals point of view and living with 7 other girls was definitely a new experience but fun non the least.
My time in Jamaica was one of the most different experiences I have ever had, but also the most rewarding. The children you meet open to your eyes to a whole new world and the small differences you can make are priceless. I could never have imagined myself doing anything like it but my decision to go was definitely the right one and I can’t wait to do it all again.
Maiko Tahara - Article
I am very glad I participated in this project.
It was my first trip abroad and I had fallen in love with Jamaica and because I was able to have many experiences. I was the only person who participated from Japan, but the people in Jamaica were very kind and warm hearted. And my host mother and staff in Jamaica were very helpful.
As I was not able to speak English that much I struggled in spending time every day with children of Hanbury. However these children talked to me in simple English very slowly, so I could understand them. I learned a lot from my encounters with the children of Hanbury. I was happy to teach them Japanese games and songs which they memorized very well. Staff people were supportive each day. I appreciate that. The time spent with the children of Hanbury felt long but short but I feel grateful if they felt they had a good time.
I really loved my host mother. She would always greet me cheerfully when I would come home from my project and made me very tasty food. My life there will always stay in my mind which I would never forget in my life.
The 2 weeks which I spent, I had happy moments and struggling moments but overall I had a fantastic time being supported by a lot of people. I feel that I spent a very worthwhile experience in life. Thank you.
Reggae Yoga is the latest craze at the Projects Abroad Jamaica headquarters. On August 4, 2010 the volunteer’s lounge was transformed from simply an area for lounging to a centre for meditation, relaxation and exercise- reggae style.
Reggae Yoga was conceptualized by the Social Manager as a means of exercise, which incorporates aspects of meditation and relaxation. The mood was set by having an authentic selection of reggae tunes soothing the volunteers and staff. From Bob Marley’s ‘Natural Mystic’ to Jimmy Cliff’s, ‘Many Rivers to Cross’
The Social Manager was the instructor for the evening. As the rain gradually moved from a heavy cascade to a steady drizzle outside, the volunteers and staff were inside moving through a series of classic Yoga positions, such as the sit/ easy position, the half shoulder stand and others, to doing steady rotations with the hips. In Jamaica we call this wining; however, the Reggae Yoga version offered a steadier, solid version which helps increase balance, concentration and simply provides exercise for the waist.
It was an evening for stretching, testing and pushing the body to various strengths. The emphasis for the evening was on strengthening the core; much of the abdominal muscles were used. The evening was truly a success.
Join us next week for part two of Reggae Yoga. Get all the juicy details (Find out how Boss Lady did).
From the moment I saw the Projects Abroad brochure for the high school specials, I could only fantasize about actually attending a trip. Though some hard work, my parents and I concluded that going to Jamaica was an oncoming event for me, as a result, a few months later I began boarding the plane wondering what I was thinking. Immediately after arriving I met my host family, soon to be accompanied by seven other girls. Simply said having 8 in one house was interesting and wild at the best of times. It was fun, stories were told, and lives were influenced by different cultures from all over the globe.
The following Monday we arrived at Hanbury Children’s Home and the children were intrigued at the new people come to visit. At the orphanage I received the blessing and curse of working with the infants to six year olds. It was a blessing because they were very welcoming, energetic and adorable. It was a curse because they were so hard to leave on the last day.
We completed various craft activities and my favorite activity was the masks. As soon as they were tied on they would roar and play with one another. It is a guarantee that you will be affected and your heart will be touched working with the children. After a week at the orphanage I became exhausted but it was just in time for the beach expedition. We went to Ocho Rios beach where me and four of my friends went snorkeling. It was a unique experience with feeding the fish, making them swim around and bump into your hand.
The instructor retrieved a sand dollar for me to take as a souvenir. Further in the day we arrived at a craft market. I was interested in the hand carved wood art; they were rich in the true Jamaican culture. On Sunday we went to YS Falls. You could swim in the waterfalls pools and sit on top of a waterfall. Priceless pictures were taken during both trips. I had a blast over the weekend but I could not wait to get back to the kids. In my last week further bonds were made and we painted the boys dormitory. We also painted a mural for the lasting memory of us at the orphanage.
On the final day we had a beautiful exhibition of the creations of all the children, as well as a sports day where we had a fun afternoon of physical activities. On the plane leaving Canada I was very worried from travelling alone for the first time, thinking that I was insane to go when I was so young. Leaving now I am crying thinking that I am insane for leaving all of these wonderful and vibrant kids behind. I know I will bring some of Jamaica’s laid back yet spicy culture with me as well. It was an amazing experience making it more than worth the few challenges when you see their glorious smiles. The only way to truly realize how fantastic it was is to experience it yourself.
I came to Jamaica on a ‘2-week special’ and expected to find a country in need. In fact what I found was a loud, happy and vibrant country full of friendly people willing to share their life’s experiences.
For two weeks at the end of July I worked at Hanbury Children’s Home with 11 other volunteers. At first you could see that everyone was slightly hesitant but once the children came running up to us we felt right at home. Our mission was to run a summer camp for the children, which would culminate with a sports day and an art exhibition. While there, we also painted the boys dormitory and a mural.
At the start of our time at Hanbury we were split into groups. I worked with the babies (0-6 years) I found this extremely rewarding. Every day I would awaken, very excited about what I would be doing with my group. The activities ranged from art and craft to drama and dance. We managed to create beautiful art which was shown at the exhibition.
Although we did have a structure to our day, a feature of the two week special, we still had lots of free time to play with all the children. During our free time we really bonded with the children, which made everyone’s experience more enjoyable, although saying goodbye was extremely hard.
On the weekend we went on various trips. On Saturday we had a 3 hour bus ride-Jamaican style (5 to a row!) to the beach and craft market at Ocho Rios, on the way we stopped at some botanical Gardens as well as a historical site. My favorite part was the craft market, where we got to shop as well as mixing with the local people. While there I met a man who had sailed around the Caribbean islands as a child and had some fantastic stories to tell. On Sunday we went to YS Falls and swam in rock pools. It was a very relaxing day after a busy week.
Whilst in Jamaica I stayed with a host family. There were eight of us in total, which meant I have made some very good friends, from many different countries. Our host family was very hospitable and I really appreciated their generosity in allowing me to stay in their home.
As a country Jamaica could not be more different from England! Beeping your car horn is a greeting rather than an insult and proposing to strangers is common! I absolutely adored all the good and really immersed myself ion the culture. We learned Patois and took Reggae Dance Class, which were both hilarious and educational.
The relaxed nature of the country was so refreshing and I could not get over the friendliness of the local people. My time in Jamaica was more than amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. I learned so much from the Jamaican people and especially the children. Working at Hanbury has changed my outlook on a lot of things and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. The Jamaican people made me feel right at home and I know that I will be back sometime soon! But for now…
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