Care, General Care Projects in Jamaica by Evelyn aan het Rot
My first week in Jamaica was a little bit hard, because you are now in a new environment, with new people and a different culture. Luckily I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Almost all new volunteer’s experience is that their first week is a bit hard. You feel homesick and go through what they call a culture shock.
I arrived on the weekend so the first weekend I got to know my host family. On Sunday my host mom brought me to church, because of the christening of her grandson. That was a great experience. Church in Jamaica is totally different from what I’m used to. I’m not a Christian, but for me it was a lot of fun going to church.
On Monday the Projects Abroad staff took me with 5 other newly arrived volunteers on a tour through Mandeville, the town where we’re living and working. After a quick lunch they brought us to our placements. I work at the New Hope Children’s Home, which is near my host family. When I arrived there, all the children were running towards me, saying hello and gave me big hugs. That was a great feeling; they were all welcoming me.
The next day all volunteers go on there first working day. I was very excited to see the children again. My supervisor Mrs. Williams, explained to me what I had to do while I’m volunteering there. I happened to come when a teacher in the children’s home went to see her family for two weeks in Canada. So the teacher and my supervisor showed me around in the classroom and asked me if I wanted to teach the class in the mornings.
I was very excited about doing that, so the next two weeks every morning I taught four children the ABC and the 123 in the form of little games. Every day I stopped at half past 10, because it was their snack time. At that time I fed the children and gave the babies their bottles. After snack time they had time to play outside and I just supervised them while they are playing and also played with them. My days ended at lunch time when they get their lunch, after that they have their baths and then have nap time.
On the weekends the volunteers planned trips to beaches, tourist attractions etc. We booked a guest house, bungalows or hotel rooms. On these weekends you really get to bond with other volunteers and get to know the island. On my first weekend out I went to Negril, where there are beautiful white sandy beaches. We went out to clubs at night. My second weekend I spent in Bull Bay, which is near Kingston. We saw the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and the city itself. Also some volunteers went surfing. My third weekend I spent in Ocho Rios, where we climbed the Dunn’s Falls. The last weekend we went to climb the Blue Mountains and went to Treasure Beach.
Projects Abroad also planned activities and day trips. Every Thursday afternoon we had a meeting. I was in the Care Project, so our Projects Abroad supervisor planned special care meetings. On Tuesdays we had for example a Reggae Dance Class, a karaoke afternoon or a Patois class. Patois is the local language the Jamaicans speak and is a mix of English with other languages. Once a month they planned Day Trips for example to Montego Bay or Kingston. Also once a month we had a ‘Dirty Day’. On those days we had to paint for example a school or a Children’s Home.
The best thing about my experience is the appreciation you get from the kids I worked with. They made a painting for me with their goodbyes on it. My five weeks are over. I’m really gonna miss Jamaica, my work, the volunteers and especially my host family. But I know for sure that I will come back!