The “White Swag” themed Christmas appreciation party was in its full element on December 22 as close to eighty patrons were encouraged to wear white to support the theme. The white was chosen because of the symbolic reference to purity and the celestial aura relating to Christmas. The swag could only speak of the chic and fashionable stylings of the Jamaican fashionistas- putting them together could only create a sizzle within one’s imagination.
The appreciation reached out to host families, placements, volunteers, staff, transport team, and all well-wishers of Projects Abroad Jamaica and much was not left to the imagination as patrons who stuck to the theme came wonderfully dressed. Also the lovely décor complimented the night’s fashion as a cascading effect of pure white cloth draped across the ceiling and peeks of snowflakes lightly drizzled from above, balloons added a glowing effect, the ambience was set- candlelit centre pieces warmed the room and elements of abstract and chic announced their presence.
The night began with the Social Manager giving the opening remarks, the Project Officer for teaching and medicine quickly followed with the welcome and the placement representative for the NCU media group, Mr. Hubert Swearine offered a word of prayer. At this moment members of the audience were treated to candy canes from Santa’s stocking. The progressed to reveal a line-up of interesting activities, first up was the bow a body part race where three men were called up, they were given bow material and asked to select a female from the audience and bow an individual body part-they were not allowed to repeat body parts the winner made a nice neat bow and his body part was the arm, he received a bottle of non alcoholic wine for his effort.
The DJ filled the moments of time with various selections from Carols to soft Reggae music and a few moments of Dancehall. The night continued with a series of fun and games, Rudolph’s dexterity race, Christmas know-it all quiz and Siamese cake eating contest were the games, all participants received prizes of non-alcoholic wine for their efforts. Patrons also got phone card give-aways and were treated to a scintillating Latin dance number, all I can is- muy calinte!
There was also a buffet of finger foods on buffet; as such patrons had feasted on jerk chicken, fish fillet, fruit and chicken kebabs, pasta and other treats. Valuable information about the Immunitiative project and patrons were encouraged to lend their support. I must concede it was a lovely appreciation party several patrons gave their commendations. Big thanks to all our partners who rallied with us for the 2011 period-WE APPRECIATE YOU!!
The election season has come to a joyous end for some and for others the moment has left them in shock and grief. The general election was held on December 29, 2011, and was contested by the two major political parties here in Jamaica, namely; the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) as was said in a previous blog.
As one would expect leading up to the general election various political nominees were keen on ensuring the campaign machinery was well oiled and was operating at optimum efficiency; for some this paid off for others the defeat was indeed bitter and heart wrenching. The keenly contested seat of Manchester Central saw Mr. Peter Bunting walking away the victor even though the race was close; Mr. Danville Walker of the JLP lost but as the media would say it was a fight to the end.
Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller formerly leader of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has done the work and is now Prime Minister Designate. She and her team mobilized a startling defeat for the Andrew Holness led Jamaica Labour Party the margin of defeat was great as the PNP amassed a total of 42 seats to the JLP’s 21 seats.
The PNP came from behind, most polls consistently showing them as behind by at least 25%. The JLP were confident as numerous interviews record them heralding victory, also throughout the campaigns the JLP had the largest crowd support.
Well this has been a shock indeed as the PNP who was previously in power for eighteen years defied the odds and will soon be installed as the new government in Jamaica. Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller holds the record for Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister now this will be her second time in such a capacity.
The CPGCA is located on Main Street in Christiana approximately 25 minutes drive via taxi from Mandeville, legally established in 1959 the CPGCA since 2008 has opened its doors to Projects Abroad Jamaica volunteers- the project experienced a lull and only revived this past year. The 2011 period has been good for Mr. Murray and his team.
The farming project operates under the Culture and Community umbrella at Projects Abroad Jamaica and gives volunteers the opportunity to work in the green house, on the farm and in the laboratory working specifically on tissue culture.
Mr. Murray continues to laud the input of Sofia Lindgren as she was a specialist in her area (Sofia has background in chemical food engineering and has a passion to grow vegetables in her personal garden. She has worked as Food Safety Manager at a large company and is into the business of food technology, safety and storage.) He says she added much value to the work of the cooperation.
He does not discount the value of the other volunteers as he says, “the last four [volunteers] have had a great impact [on the operations of the CPGCA].” Mr. Murray went on to list the tissue culture work and the green house work as areas where the volunteers have made contributions.
He stresses the need for highly skilled volunteers as he finds it a challenge to utilize volunteers to the best when they are ignorant of certain tasks, especially where tissue culture is concerned, in his words, “Match skills to the work being done.” Mr. Murray went on to explain that the CPGCA is currently expanding its lab as such resources are limited he charges volunteers to be mindful of the situation and adapt in a positive way.
Mr. Murray looks forward to the continued partnership and looks forward to a positive 2012.
You are sure to catch a whiff of the aromatic flavours upon nearing “The man” it’s a mix of smoky sensations with an intoxicating smell of herbs and spices marinated into grilling meat- it smells real good- I am guessing that is the simplest way to put it.
“The man” is none other than the jerk man who is busily working his apron clad body over a sizzling jerk pan. Throughout Jamaica these smells are plentiful as jerk men tend to set up shop at two or more stops within a particular town; many persons refer to this phenomenon as street-side jerk.
In Mandeville there are two popular jerk stops, both located in front of route taxi stands there most popular treat is the jerk chicken a few will venture into pork, before I proceed to tell you of the evolution, here is a little reminder about what jerk entails:
“Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, and tofu. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called "pimento" in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, and salt. Around the 1960s, Caribbean entrepreneurs seeking to recreate the smoked pit flavor in an easier, more portable method came up with a solution to cut oil barrels lengthwise and attach hinges, drilling several ventilation holes for the smoke. These barrels are fired with charcoal, which enhances the spicy, smoky taste. Alternatively, when these cooking methods aren't available, other methods of meat smoking, including wood burning ovens, can be used to jerk meat. However, oil barrels are arguably one of the most popular cooking methods for jerk in Jamaica. Most jerk in Jamaica is no longer cooked in the traditional method and is grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum jerk pan.” (Wikipedia free encyclopaedia)
Today jerk men have become innovative in their craft as recession takes a toll on the spending habits of persons. Usually the cheapest payout for jerk chicken is JA$300.00, this is a leg a half of thigh, to many that’s a little pricey for a bite of jerk. As such the jerk men have looked into an innovation by jerking chicken offal, such as chicken gizzard, other parts of the chicken now being jerked are chicken neck and back. School children love this tasty treat, they also find it affordable, joining the lines along with the school children are the adults who can now eat tasty jerk in a more affordable way. The hit is the jerk chicken neck as- today jerk is no longer confined to the traditional parts of the chicken or pork jerk entrepreneurs have gone into a whole new dimension of culinary delights. So if you happen to be in Jamaica just try the latest evolution in jerk.
On November 30, 2011 volunteers and staff made the two hours journey from Mandeville in the parish of Manchester to Montego Bay in the parish of St. James to visit the unique and enchanting set up of the Rasta Village. We were met by the Empress, Arlene who gave us a brief introduction about the Rasta Village and the property where it is located. The Montego Bay Gardens hosts the Rasta Village which is situated in a sacred eco-preserved environment. We then met Eddy, who informed us that we would soon cross the river to get across to the village.
Eddie firstly explained that the Rastafarians who enjoy this space has evolved from a few of the traditional Rasta groups; he explained that they are free from oppressing certain persons within the group such as women; also the youth have a voice. He further explained that they have committed to having a plastic free space, in a bid to preserve the natural state of the village.
Having crossed the river and entered the village we were refreshed by coconut water sipped from calabash/gourde containers. Kanaka then went on to speak to about the principles and philosophies of Rastafari, also we looked at a few of their symbol and food preparation techniques. After we were taken on a walk through the labyrinth, as a form of a cleansing journey, after the walk through the labyrinth we were introduced to herbs and plants the Rastafarians used for medicinal purposes as well as general holistic development, as it relates to health.
Later we enjoyed drumming from the group; a few volunteers even tried their hand at the drumming. The last stop was the gift shop where original and natural pieces were on display. The experience was truly enchanting.
The election season is on in full swing here in Jamaica and the sights and sounds remain true to Jamaica’s presentation on keeping it unique. The general election will be held on December 29, 2011, and will be contested by the two major political parties here in Jamaica, namely; the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP). Traditionally politics in Jamaica was highly contentious and would result in bouts of violent behaviour. Today the political scene remains highly combative, competitive and passionate; however the violence has decreased tremendously.
As one would expect leading up to the general election various political nominees have been campaigning aggressively to ensure victory in the upcoming elections. One such keenly contested seat is the Manchester Central seat between Mr. Peter Bunting (Bank on Bunting)) who represents the PNP and Danville Walker (The proven performer). The political scene takes centre stage for two main reasons, one such reason is to maintain a steady flow of pertinent information out of Jamaica and secondly to highlight the cultural awes volunteers will happen upon while staying in Mandeville, Jamaica.
This nomination day on December 12, 2011 was a very good example of a cultural awe; the scene was amazing, reminiscent of a street parade or carnival the people were donned in their favourite party colours- the costume-like ensemble was enough to make passersby stop and stare, music blared from campaign vehicles, people trumpeted their horns in a form of joyous announcement. Party jingles echoed and persons danced with animated exuberance at the prospect of their nominees becoming the next Member of Parliament.
Traffic blocks prefaced the arrival of the nominees, who made their ‘mark’ at the nomination post. Mandeville became a sea of moving and cacophonous green and red/yellow supporters creating a party-like atmosphere. The excitement could be observed or heard from almost every point within Mandeville, a few volunteers said they have never seen anything like this, what can we say, only in Jamaica. Well I will definitely update you after the general elections, who made the better ‘mark’ so until then take care.
The Children's Place
Ms. Hannah Bolt
The Children’s Place has made a speedy entrance onto the Projects Abroad Jamaica stage as the latest care placement to offer a project for eager volunteers. Equally speedy as the entrance was, Director of the placement, Mrs. Yolanda Bolt swiftly followed through on the opportunity to open her Day Care Centre to the Projects Abroad Jamaica volunteers. Mrs. Bolt- upon being asked said her husband has some relation to the World Record Holder Usain Bolt- operates The Children’s Place for fifty-three (53) children ranging from 0-6 years with a staff compliment totaling five (5) individuals. Her daughter Hannah Bolt is a member of the team and will function as the placement supervisor for the volunteers.
Patrina Thomas- Morrison engaged our new partners located on 6 West Road Mandeville to cater to the desired outcome of the volunteers; the programme has been structured to ensure that the volunteers will work at least four hours per day feeding some children breakfast when parents take morning meals for them, learning stimulation activities, sing-along, TV times, breaks, lunch, nap time, snack times, games and changing times for the parents’ pickup. Also the volunteers will assist with the general care of the children including feeding, changing clothes and diapers, engaging in play and providing stimulation through learning activities using diverse resources. Other activities may feature volunteers being asked to care for and monitor children who are not well, help to clean up or assist the director in executing activities that are directly related to the operation of the facility and care and stimulation of the children. These include organizing and defining work spaces, planning facility events and programmes and creating charts, games, rosters, schedules and posters.
The Children’s Place has already begun hosting volunteers and the feedback has been positive we look forward to a long and lasting partnership.
“Strengthening Evidence to Achieve Sustainable Action,” was the theme for the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference held in Bahamas from November 18-25. Dr. Bridgette Barrett- Williams, Country Director of Projects Abroad Jamaica attended the conference to garner useful information relating to the issue of HIV as well as to network on behalf of the Immunitiative Project. The Immunitiative Project is geared towards building an HIV/AIDS care facility in Mandeville, Jamaica.
The conference brought together a wide range of Caribbean HIV supporters such as the Aids Foundation of the Bahamas and the Bahamas HIV/AIDS Centre. Thirty-five (35) countries were represented including, Anguilla, Jamaica, Montserrat and U.S. Virgin Island.
The Caribbean region holds the record for the world’s second highest adult HIV prevalence. With this statistic in mind the conference embarked on a journey to build on the legacy of the two previous conferences; the goals of this conference centred on the need to build, enhance, improve and strengthen.
The conference sessions focused on capacity building, stigma, empowerment, skills building and creative aspects such as poster displays. The sessions also focused on other aspects such as the legal, ethical, cultural, spiritual, research, training, vaccine and leadership issues.
There was information to be garnered and shared at the conference and the Country Director came away with a fortified network and an arsenal of information ready to take the Immunitiative to the next level.
The Immunitiative proposal was submitted by the Country Director to the conference committee and was selected as one of interest out of thousands of applications.
December 1, 2011 commemorated the twenty- third (23rd) World AIDS Day across the global community; this year’s activities was celebrated under the theme, ‘Getting to Zero’ with three main goals in mind- Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS-related deaths. The first World AIDS Day began on December 1, 1988 with the aim to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. World AIDS Day is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
The Care Project Meeting held on December 1st at Projects Abroad Jamaica aimed to do just that by reminding volunteers that World AIDS Day was being celebrated and that Projects Abroad Jamaica currently has an ongoing project to construct an HIV/AIDS care facility in Mandeville. Volunteers also had an opportunity to pen a few sentiments about the issue of HIV/AIDS. Below are a few of those sentiments: enjoy!
This is indeed the volunteers’ voice coming from destination Jamaica on a significant day. Remember our fellow earth brothers and sisters affected. Inform yourselves and let us stop stigma and discrimination.
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