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.