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Literacy is a vital part of any society that wishes to provide a good future for its children. Every child is entitled to exercise their right to an education as stated in our Bill of Rights, as part of the constitution; sadly not everyone receives the necessary level of education that this bill protects.
The level of education in schools based in poorer communities is known to be much lower than those in the more privileged communities. These schools face a number of issues such as text book shortage and overcrowding of learners in a single classroom. This overall affects the literacy rate amongst learners as students who are struggling do not get the extra time needed for them to catch up with the rest of their class mates.
As we celebrate World Literature Day on the 8th of September, we will also be celebrating the great volunteer work done by our volunteers at our Literacy Teaching Project. The Projects Abroad Literacy Project that forms part of our Teaching Project is making great progress in trying to breach the literacy gap at one of our placement schools, Zerilda Primary School. Volunteers who are placed at the school assist teachers by giving extra reading and writing lessons to learners who are struggling in those areas.
Antoine Cremel, 19-years-old from France, who participated in this project, could already see great improvement in a short space of time with the children that he was working with. In less than two weeks at the school he had managed to help a Grade 3 learner, Christly, improve her reading. Antoine was touched by Christly’s eagerness to learn and he began to make sure that he dedicated himself and practiced reading and writing with Christly as often as he could.
When he met Christly, she was unable to read out three and four letter words. She used to struggle interpreting and using words in the correct context. She now, with the help of her teacher and extra lessons taken with Antoine, understands the way that letters change and merge to form new words.
Volunteers at the Literacy Project track the progress of the learners they work with through progress reports which they update after each session. As of June this year they began to keep individual reports, whereas prior to this they only wrote summaries of their session, with a few suggestions.
Now each child has a detailed progress report that helps the new volunteers pickup from where the previous once left off. Each report is also created for each grade as based on the national curriculum, which means that once a learner has completed their extra lessons they end up on the same level as other students in their grade.
Teachers at Zerilda Primary School are equally proud and happy at the amazing results that the project has produced with the learners. Berenice Peterse, a Grade 3 teacher at the school shared the experiences she had with a learner before and after the child took part in the extra literacy classes. She says that students who were once scared and shy to read out loud in front of their classmates have now gained the confidence and now even volunteer to read to the class.
It is great stories and feedback like this that keeps the school staff and volunteers motivated to helping the children reach the necessary reading and writing levels that will one day enable them to create a better future for themselves.
Blog: FUTURE MIDWIFE :)
September 5, 2014 by Communications Officer- Projects Abroad Philippines
Having had so many enjoyable volunteering experiences in the past, 20-year-old Frances Cassidy wanted to volunteer again. She travelled to the Philippines to take part in Projects Abroad’s Medical Project. She also thought it would be a great opportunity to visit the Philippines and be involved in a community that was badly hit by typhoon Yolanda last year. She also wanted to explore the health system of a different country and culture.
The project is about helping out in the district hospital, city health office and rural health units. Volunteers have the opportunity to shadow doctors in a number of different departments in the district hospital or in one or more of the rural health centres and can even assist in delivering babies.
Specifically, Frances worked in the delivery room and birthing centre and had the opportunity to care for pregnant women, women who have given birth, women in labour and newborn babies. She also assisted in numerous baby deliveries every day. “Projects Abroad allows cultural exchange to happen in hospitals and health centres,” she said. “Not only do we learn a lot about how the health system works in the Philippines, but we get to teach them about how it works in our own country and perhaps find alternatives and improvements that can be made,” she added.
Her daily tasks consisted of being an assistant in the emergency room, taking vital signs of patients, delivering babies, taking care of newborns, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. She was given a huge amount of responsibility right from day one! “The staff in the hospital and birthing centre were trusting and confident in our abilities to learn quickly!” she said.
Not only did she learn a variety of skills at her placement, but also a lot about how the health system works in the Philippines and the key difference between the health systems of different countries. According to her, through cultural exchange with the staff, she taught them about how the system works in her country and made some suggestions about how she thinks certain areas could be improved in terms of cleanliness and efficiency. “This experience will be useful for my future as it has given me experience as a midwife, which I will be in three years,” Frances said. “Also, it has taught me to recognize and accept differences and not classify them as wrong,” she added.
“My most memorable experience is definitely the first time I delivered a baby. I have so many memorable experiences from my month in the Philippines though - working in the hospital, living the true Filipino lifestyle and being immersed in the culture have taught me so many important life lessons. The experiences I've had, people I've met and stories I've heard have taught me to never take anything for granted again. What I love about the people of Bogo, specifically, is that most people have gone through a lot of hardship after being affected by Yolanda, yet everyone I spoke to without fail sees a bright side and are so positive, happy and appreciative about what they do have!
In terms of differences to where I am from, there are obvious differences such as the culture, food, general way of life and living conditions. On a medical level, the most prominent difference is the patient-staff relationship and how patients are generally treated, especially on an emotional level. This is an area I'd love to continue to carry out research on and perhaps come up with ideas in the future on how it can be developed and improved.
“To the future volunteers, I'd recommend arriving with an open-mind, no expectations and a positive and determined attitude. You are there to volunteer, learn and in some situations, teach. Don't jump to the assumption that if something is different to the way it's done in your country or culture, it's wrong. Immerse yourself in the culture and community of where you are, regardless of how long you'll be staying. Lastly, always keep in the front of your mind that you are there to volunteer, so everything else comes second!”
(University of Exeter student)
Lush green foliage of the Blue Mountains
In highlighting the many things Jamaican, the rich foliage covering this little piece of paradise cannot be overlooked. Hidden within the leaves of towering trees of deepest green, shrubs, grass and everything else in between, are flavors that have led to more than just a local tradition. In every home there is a secret recipe for what some refer to as herbal teas. Here however, we simply call them “bush tea.”
A cup of bush tea
Many Jamaicans are firm believers in the health benefits of these plants and in recent years, science has proven that our grandparents (Granny an Grampa) were right all along. In addition to the medicinal properties, there are the unmistakably distinct flavors and wide varieties that make Jamaican bush teas unique.
Among the most prominent Jamaican teas are the mint varieties. Peppermint and black mint are two of the most popular.
Fever grass (lemon grass) is another Jamaican must have that is enjoyed by many.
Jamaican Fever Grass or Lemon Grass
Cerasse may leave a bitter taste in your mouth but its renown as a blood cleanser, medicine for stomach problems and its richness in Vitamins A and C, may cause you to think twice about passing it by.
Ginger, while not a “bush,” is another local favorite. This root spice contains antioxidants that are linked to the relief of pain, inflammation, digestive disorders, nausea and motion sickness.
Wild basil is another plant with a distinct flavor that is traditionally had for fever, pain and the common cold.
Jamaican Wild Basil
You do not have to live in the country to enjoy a wide variety of bush teas. The Jamaican entrepreneurial spirit has made many of these teas available on the supermarket shelf, locally and internationally. The essence of these plants has been captured in modern packaging in a variety of blends for your drinking pleasure and otherwise.
Whether the plants are gathered from the wild, grown in the yard, bought from the local market place or high-end supermarket, using then to make bush tea is a longstanding activity that is steeped in Jamaica culture. So on your next visit to the island; ensure that you indulge in a cup, or two, of some good Jamaican bush tea!
In the spirit of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we wanted to celebrate the football fever that is spreading through our projects across the world.
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I'm Lauren, a 17 year old English girl, a bookworm, cat owner, optimistic pessimist and self-confessed lover of Disney movies, that doesn't really know anything about blog writing... at all. I'm originally from Sheffield in the north, but moved to a boarding school for people with a visual impairment in the midlands in September last year to do my A-levels. I was born totally blind, but due to a hell of a lot of surgery, gained some sight in my right eye. Since I moved to boarding school, my confidence has improved so much. This time last year I wouldn't have gone into a shop to buy a bag of crisps, so travelling to Ghana for 4 weeks on my own is a huge step for me confidence and independence-wise.
Currently, I'm sitting in my semi boxed up bedroom. Due to awkward term dates colliding with project dates, I'm going to have to leave for the airport straight from school. With not living at home and only going home every 4 weeks or so, it is like 10 times trickier to get all of my stuff for Ghana sorted out. While all of the other volunteers will be buying their stuff 2 weeks before we leave, I had to buy all my stuff while I was at home last week. My bag is already completely packed up and ready to go. My mum is doing all the visa applications and printing and whatnot from home so she can give me the documents when she comes to pick me up and take me to the airport.
With the date of my departure edging closer, I'm starting to feel more anxious about the trip than excited. I find myself constantly worrying that other volunteers won't like me or will find me a burden because of my visual impairment and that the culture shock will be too much for me and I'll want to go home. That's just me being pessimistic I suppose. I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just gotta grab it by the balls, haven't I?
So there you go, first ever blog post. Hopefully it wasn't too terribly structured :)
"Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them" - Jim Carey
Nepal Social Manager 166 days ago
Congratulations Mees Mansvelders! Mees, 20, from the Netherlands, volunteered at Chitwan Medical Teaching Hospital in Bharatpur, Chitwan, as part of the Medical Project. As a medical volunteer, Mees had the opportunity to observe all facets of a bustling Nepali hospital, from the Emergency Room to the Maternity Ward.
Mees had a few words to say about her winning shot: