Projects Abroad volunteers prepare sand for the rendering of the walls at 77-year-old Cassinia Smith's home. - Contributed Photos
The sense of peace of having a good roof over one's head is something that every individual dreams of in life. This helps to understand the joy felt by 77-year-old widow Cassinia Smith, as she witnessed the work done by volunteers on her two-bedroom house in Clarkes Town, Manchester, on Friday.
"These persons are sent by God," exclaimed Smith. "It is a wonderful feeling and I appreciate what is being done for me. It all comes from the Lord."
Smith, who described herself as a born Anglican who has lived in Manchester since 1965, said her roof was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and that she has struggled since then.
She added: "I just want to thank God for sending these persons to assist me."
The project was a joint undertaking of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-Jamaica) and ProjectsAbroad Jamaica, a United Kingdom-based group which operates out of Mandeville, Jamaica.
"The house should have been just a roof repair, but when we came, it was so bad that we had to do more than the roof," said Pastor Wenford Henry, ADRA Jamaica director. "We have done the roof so that it can withstand any hurricane and we have also replaced the doors, rendered the walls and working with Projects Abroad to do the painting and facelift so that at the end, it will look like a brand-new house."
This house project is part of an initiative of ADRA-Jamaica, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, and involves the construction of 10 one- and two-bedroom houses and the repairs of more than 35 roofs in St Elizabeth, Manchester and Portland. It is done as part of a hurricane-mitigation programme. It is funded to the tune of approximately US$100,000.
"The idea is to strengthen and repair roofs and replacement of roof before the hurricane season to lessen the severe impact on vulnerable individuals and families in these parishes," Henry further stated.
"Every third Friday in each month, we have a mini labour day called 'Dirty Day', where we pull all our volunteers from their different placement to do specific task," said Dr Bridgette Barrett-Williams, country director, Projects Abroad Jamaica. "Our work today with this project is to do the renovation work of painting and clean up so that Mrs. Smith can live a little more comfortably."
The group of 29 volunteers from Projects Abroad is drawn from nationalities, including Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Canada and the United States. They are mainly university students falling between the age group of 18 and 25. Local volunteers to the programme assist ADRA-Jamaica in various projects.
"I am glad that I can be part of something that is helping someone to be a better person," said 18-year-old Laura Nooteboom of Holland. "I really like it here in Jamaica: the culture, the people and the various places that I have been to since arriving here."
Projects broad’s work in Jamaica also includes teaching in schools, health care, sports, farming and building projects.
"It is done on a rotating basis from a schedule that goes all the way to December," added Barrett-Williams. "We try to rotate the various projects and so, for example, we go to a care one month and then to teaching and so it is time for building for this month and that's why we are here."
Again have managed to find a computer inthe depths of Jamaica. Am currently in hostel at Montego bay with 17 volunteers ( :) ) and we've all just come back from swimming at night in Glistening Waters. The water has microbes in it that means when you swim you glow...WAS AMAZING. (Apart from a couple of small jely fish stings!) Also.found a small beach today which we ended up almost having toourselves:) how very lovely ! xx
I have been in the lush tropical bubble that is Jamaica for two weeks now and this is the first time I've managed to get to a computer to type about my adventures! Am sitting in the little internet cafe in Mandeville sipping my soursop juice (new favourite drink that I ill be devastated to leave when I come back to England!)
Between some crazy tropical rainstorms (rainy season) and my first ever earthquake on Tuesday (hopefully one and only!) I'm having the most fantabulous time teaching music to my lovely Grade 5 and 6 students at McIntosh Memorial Primary school. This weeks lessons have been learning all about the instruments of the orchestra- as many of the students often only really get to hear reggae, dancehall and some chart songs, I as really nervous teaching them about things which I didnt have a clue how they would react to but for the most part they've been amazing!
Today (despite having a bit of an Anna: cold sneezes can probably be heard across the pond!) have spent 2 hours teaching students about the orchestra using paper models of each instrument to make our own paper orchestra and then taking the graduation students for their singing class :) Also I help with the lovely school choir and I had my first crazy spotlight moment where I had to play the piano for their big song at church on Sunday... never been to a Methodist church before.... interesting!
Have also been able to take trips out ith volunteer and lovely new Jamaican friends! Major beach hoedown last weekend at Negril. Imagine your stereotypical Caribbean beach and sunset and times it by 10 and that is how stunning it was- white sands, crystal seas with a large portion of jerk chicken... ultimate yum. Am desperately trying not to put wieght on over here but am feeling myself sink further into my slimy depths of podgedom with all the delicious patties, rice and peas, jerk chicken and curry going on! aahhhhhh oh well- i vigourously do a lovely walk to school most morning in a sort of attempt to stay fit!
I will attempt to write again soon- lots of love to everyone back home... I am off to aerobics class! :)
Wasted treasures in St Bess
André Gordon, Gleaner Writer
BLACK RIVER, St Elizabeth:
THE BLACK River Mineral Spa stands tall in the history of the town. It was once a major tourist attraction for the rich merchants who did business in the town in the 18th and 19th century.
King Leopold of Belgium visited the spa during the 19th century. The exact date could not be verified by records obtained from the book titled Reflections on Black River, written by H. May Barrett, an authority on Black River history.
According to the Jamaica Heritage Trust, the spa was popular until the 1930s. The trust notes that the cold spring, which is rich in sulphur and other minerals, is believed to have healing properties.
Over the years, the property has changed hands many times between the Government and private holdings. It now rests in the hands of the Dias family of Black River. Their massive renovation work turned to disaster when materials, which were purchased overseas, were not allowed into the island.
The spa consists of two or three natural springs, which flow together forming a stream, which runs into the sea. An attempt to build a concrete pool around the stream has resulted in a blockage, which has caused a chemical reaction between the sulphurous water and the concrete. The result is a noxious-smelling substance, which floats on the water, rendering the project a failure.
The inability of the new owners to revive the once-bustling business has robbed the town of one of its true gems. On a regular weekday, schoolchildren can be seen hanging around on the property and even playing in the water.
"An operational spa would diversify the product since most of the other attractions are buildings, and that (the spa) is a natural phenomenon. In other countries such as England and Greece, Roman baths are a major part of the attraction," said Judith Sommer, a German Projects Abroad intern with the St Elizabeth Parish Development Committee who is conducting research on the history of Black River with a view to creating a historical walk through the town.
She added: "It is a good source of income. (But) the fact that Black River makes no income from the spa is a wasted opportunity for the town."
The spa sits next to the Black River Hospital on approximately 1.5 acres of land. The unfinished concrete structure has become an eyesore. Other undeveloped treasures in the parish include Ipswich Caves, the Banda Cave of Breadnut Walk, the longest beach in the parish at Fort Charles, the Holland Bamboo Travel Halt, and Apple Valley Park, which could provide much needed employment for the growing youth population in the parish.
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