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Rachel’s Jamaica PCV Blog
Rachel’s Jamaica PCV Blog
The Latest News from Jamaica
[My news from Jamaica] — rachel @ 7:09 pm
Last week Monday (Sept. 15), I heard that Saturday coming would be International (Coastal) Clean-Up Day, and so I got it into my head that this was a good excuse to start the cleaning up the gully in Old Harbour Bay–or rather to get the community to help me do so.
In that week, I wrote letters to certain companies for funding, boots, gloves, bags, and the pick up of the trash at the end, emailed or faxed the letters out, went to Kingston for 24 hours (to go to church and to a ladies function at the Ambassador’s house), the Peace Corps office, copied off 250 flyers total, delivered those flyers and talked to community members for about six hours on both Thursday and Friday evenings. On Thursday while in Kingston, I learned that the boots, gloves, and funding had come through and all the companies I wrote to were going to help with the project.
My days started around 6:00 a.m. and I finally came in for dinner at 10:30/11:00 especially on Thursday and Friday! I had talked to SO MANY people that I really thought that we would have a good number coming to the event.
Well the day came, but no one really showed up. We (eight of us including staff and children) relocated (ironically) to the fishing beach. A few community members joined the effort and by the end, 10 heavy bags were sitting on the beach waiting for later pickup. We would have filled more, but many of the bags had to be double or triple bagged that they wouldn’t fall apart later on. After we did what we could do at the fishing beach, and because all of us were thoroughly hungry, we transported ourselves, back to the school where lunch for 50 was being prepared.
As our group, now about 20 waited patiently, we were entertained by Karen Whittle, school teacher and graduate from UWI in social work, also my housemate and best friend here. Karen demonstrated her leadership skills and love of children while giving a spur-of-the-moment vocabulary lesson for children and adults alike.
Lunch came, we ate, gathered up our things and went home to rest.
Some of the lessons that I learned from this experience were:
* Should have involved community members more in the planning. In fact, the entire project should have been initiated and spearheaded by a Citizen’s Association, youth club, the CDA, or some other CBO.
* Can’t rush a change of thought, actions, growth, or lifestyle changes.
* Should have had National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) come and investigate the gullies: the people may have not come out because they were afraid of the possible alligators or crocodiles in the gullies.
* Should have worked with the Parish Council to have the needed heavy machinery to also work on the gully
* Contact Gene (my APCD from PC) much sooner!!
* and to be aware of food amounts–sometimes it seems you can never have enough food, but in this case, we had planned for too much.
As you can see, I learned a great deal about my community and hopefully the next gully clean-up will be better attended and initiated and organized more by community members.
As you can see, I have been very busy, and maybe this was a lesson designed by a higher power as the DAC (the organization that I work for) prepares for the upcoming Expo on November 5th. All is well :-).
I hope that all is going well with all of you, and that each of you is remembering that you are God’s child–whole, complete, satisfied, and that He supplies you with infinite wisdom, joy, and energy.
Much love to you all,
New Mailing Address for Letters and New Cell Phone Number!
[My news from Jamaica] — rachel @ 11:13 am
Really quick, get a pen because here is my NEW mailing address for LETTERS ONLY:
Lot 57 Blackwood Gardens
Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine
Jamaica, West Indies
Packages have to still go to the 8 Worthington Ave address via good ol’ US post.
My cell number, if anyone is interested in calling me, is 876-889-2937. I strongly suggest buying a phone card, because it is much, much cheaper than any other way to call.
I love you all!!!
Books, free time, work, etc…
[My news from Jamaica] — rachel @ 8:09 pm
Dear Friends and Family,
I have had several requests to hear what books I am reading, and about what my free time looks like, etc.
Books: I am currently reading a little pamphlet (50 pages) that the SDC (Social Development Committee) put out called Planning Community Projects. It is part of a series of seven. The booklet is very useful and helpful in understanding what the process is and how to engage with the community when embarking on a project. I have renewed my effort to read Science and Health on a regular basis.
Finally, when packages from home arrive, included are the famed Harry Potter books that I have not read yet. One idea is that maybe I’ll set up a reading club where we read the books outloud. this would be quite challenging though, because many Jamaican children–even though they love school–don’t read very much (it seems). This might be all the more reason for the club, but I am saying that their attention span is very short, so I would need to find some students that are very special.
Restaurants: Most restaurants in the immediate community where I live are kind of “country style” and pretty much serve all the same thing. Of course there is variance, but ususal dishes are fried chicken, BBQ Chicken, Jerk Chicken, chicken foot soup, and oxtail (meat from the cow tail). Of course, white rice cooked with red beans and coconut milk is a staple with almost every meal. Jamaican salad is very similar to cole slaw (carrots and cabbage) except for less mayonayse. I eat at restaurants sometimes, but I admit that other times, I’ll go for just having a “spice bun” or a raison bread bun or maybe a cheese bun–bread with chedder cheese in the middle–kind of like jelly donuts.
The other thing that I didn’t mention was that Jamaicans love dumplings: flour and water kneaded into flattened balls about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 an inch thick. These are then fried or boiled and are believed to give you “strong back”. They are very dense to say the least! In addition to rice and dumplings, ground provisions such as potatoes and yams, and fried green bananas give lots more starch options. The local fish fare is, well,… let me just say that I don’t like so much the way that Jamaicans cook fish. They overdo the cooking and the fish is very, very dried out when it reaches your plate. Also, Jamaicans don’t debone the fish that they cook, so when you are eating it, you have a lot of bones to pick out and sift through. The same is true for the soup mentioned earlier, chicken foot soup–a whole lot of small bones and joint parts are left on the plate when you are done .
The restaurants around here are often the style that you pay at the counter and then pick up your food when it is ready and then sit and eat. I think that you only get to have waiters and waitresses as you get closer to Kingston, such as in Spanish Town (maybe).
Free time: When I am not in the office or at community meetings, I might be here in the lab, but ususally you will find me at home, cooking (or watching and helping others cook), eating, dishes, laundry, talking with Karen, writing in my journal, or sleeping . Usually the sleeping part doesn’t start until sometimes as late as 12 or 1, which is not so good, but hopefully as my service progresses, I will be better at claiming more time for myself for earlier bedtimes. I might as well keep dreaming though, because I don’t think it will relax that much.
A Jamaican’s perception of my work: Well, I haven’t asked anybody really how they feel about social development, but there are those that work along side me in various fields, and then there are those who ask what I do and I tell them and they say “Oh, okay.” My schpeel continues and I tell them why I need their help and participation in this work of community development.
Last night I went to two community meetings–one with 8 people from a rural community pretty far up north (Ginger Ridge), and the other in Spring Village (not so rural) with 48 attendees. The very act of showing up at these meetings shows that they care about the work that the SDC/DAC is doing.
I work with a team that is very smart, proactive, and upbeat. Everytime I go to these meetings, I watch in awe at their ability to field questions and facilitate the development of the community. I am really glad that I don’t have to build this structure, but that it is already in place and all we need now is community participation and involvement.
I have to go for now, but I will keep you updated and I thank all of you that keep me updated with what you are up to as well
Much, much love,