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,