Latest work news

“Tings go’wan down here mon!! Down in da beach here in a da Bay, tings a go’awn!!
The people dem came out for a meetin’, one meetin’ where dey learned dat deir voices need to be heard, must be heard, and dat dey mus’ get involve fo da beach to improve, to develop.”

This is what you might hear if you listened to some people talking on the beach—or at least I hope so, because believe me, THINGS ARE GOING ON! Things are happening. Once again the truth that “progress is God’s law” has proved true. Let me take a breath as I try to repeat, again, the ideas for the development of the Old Harbour Bay fishing beach…

FIRST, let me tell you what went on last Thursday evening (October 28). It became clear that an election meeting of sorts was needed, where the fishermen would nominate themselves or representatives, as well as other groups, like the fish venders, scrapers, market venders, shop owners. That meeting happened Thursday and went reasonably well. I now have several names of people who have agreed to come to Management Committee meetings and represent their fellow beach users.

This meeting was so necessary because at the last Beach Management Committee meeting, only SEVEN people came, and no one could say that they were representing the beach and its interests. That was very disappointing. Hopefully, now that I have some names of Beach representatives, we should have a stronger Beach Management Committee. With a stronger committee, where all the agencies are represented, we can draft up a proper development plan, hearing the issues from all the different angles, so that the project can work, both on the ground and in the offices.

So, some of the development plans as they stand right now:

Market ground
Tomarrow, a tractor and truck are supposed to come to the new market ground and continue clearing what was started some two weeks ago. One man living on that same market ground needs to move out and his house will have to come down. The ground needs to be cleared of the rest of the bush and the rubbish/landfill area in the corner. Marl needs to continue to be spread over the newly cleared areas. The spaces for each shop “pegged out” and numbered for each shop owner to draw shop numbers from a raffle. Shop owners need to move to this newly prepared market ground, according to specific building instructions. The road spaces between the rows of shops need to be paved. The fence between the roadside and the market need to fix up properly, and the hole in the concrete wall to be patched up, while one gate installed in the far corner near the new sanitation block.

Market Venders and Fish net repairers will switch places—right now, they are each occupying the other groups’ shed. The market venders will move out from the shed near the sea and to the market shed in the market area, while the fish net repair persons will transport their business to the shed near the boats and the sea.

Sanitation Block and Refuse Bay
It is proposed that one of the existing gear sheds be converted to a sanitation block consisting of about 15 stalls for the men and women. The building is perfect because a lot of the work of building the pits is already completed. The refuse is also a very needed and necessary aspect of providing some order and cleanliness on the beach. The refuse bay is supposed to fill with drums so that trash collection around the beach and emptying into the truck is easiest for everyone.

Gear Sheds and renovation of Fish Vending Stalls
More gear sheds need to be either found or built, so that all fishermen occupying the fish vending stalls can vacate the spaces for renovation (running water installed, concrete repairs, grill repairs painting). Fish venders will then move in and benefit from the stall’s fresh running water, instead of using the polluted ocean water to clean and scrape the fish.

Building a new wharf/jetty
A wharf must be built to replace the old one that was destroyed in the storm. This is necessary for the livelihood of several fishermen.

What you see here is just the beginning of project and development of ideas.
I am on the beach as often as possible, talking to people and trying to bring understanding and trust among all the different groups and agencies. I know that only God can really do that, but I do have hope that the whole project will come together. I think that the people are ready for these changes, ready for order to come to the beach.

I just hope that the committee can bind together with a spirit of co-operation, willingness, an open mind, and one vision.


One Father, One Love, One Vision, One Beach!

Maybe something like that could be our motto…

With much love,

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 1 Comment

Lessons from my first hurricane experience

“How did Ivan treat you?” Is a question that I am getting lately, and I know that many of you were praying for me and Jamaica and others, so I wanted to thank each of you and share my experience and lessons that I learned while Hurricane Ivan was breezing below Jamaica.

When I wrote this in Word, it was just over three pages, so either skim or bear with me 🙂 and all the little details …

On Wednesday evening, September 8, I got a call from my warden saying that Peace Corps was consolidating and I needed to be in Mandeville by noon the next day because of the coming storm. I told her that it would be much easier and faster for me to get to Kingston. Ann, our Safety and Security Coordinator (SSC), called me at 10:00 pm later that evening to say that it was official that I could come into Kingston instead of Mandeville. Anyway, I packed my bag that night and was at the Medallion Hotel the next day. When I arrived, not one of the staff was there and nobody really knew what was going on. The hotel that we were at was a change from the one that we were originally supposed to be at, and so many people were wondering why the change. At the seven o’clock meeting that night, I was able to share with the group that one of the reasons for the change was that PC staff thought that this was a more structurally sound building that could withstand a hurricane better than the former hotel. The other reason was that some staff that lived on the grounds who would be there through the storm. So there we were, at the Medallion Hotel, 43 of us from the Kingston area. We found out that there was another hotel, the Four Seasons, which was also housing some Kingston area PCVs. The other two hotels were in Mandeville and Montego Bay.

Light rain started Thursday night, and continued through Friday. Friday night is when the heavy rains really picked up, and you could see branches flying through the air, but not very much because it was dark. If the winds were really strong, then you could see the tree trunks and large branches under the light bending in different directions.

Waiting, being at the hotel was a lot of waiting. Some people filled the time trying to catch a bit of news, but they found themselves frustrated because different sources were all giving very different stories and information. Some volunteers filled their time playing cards, or games like Taboo and Cranium. For me, after meals I would make the rounds and see what people were doing, but there wasn’t much going on, so I often retreated to my room to pray, read the lesson, the Sentinel, or listen to hymns. I found this much more sustaining, comforting, and fulfilling than anything else going on at the hotel. I discovered how to make Concord play all three verses and show the words to each song, which was fun.

On Thursday night, the power went and the hotel switched to its generator. This meant that most lights and other things worked, but TVs did not. While the rest of the Island (without a generator) had no power, no water in the pipe, we still were able to charge our phones and had 3 catered meals a day.

Yes, the hotel leaked—a lot. There was one entire hall that had to move to other parts of the hotel because one section of the roof came off and flooded every room. One of the rooms on this particular hall had about three inches of water to wade through. In my room, water came down the inside wall and my roommate and I mopped it up once, while I did the job later the same day. Saturday morning, the dining room was also flooded, so for lunch we relocated to the main hall. Even though this room had a second story above it, in certain spots, you had to be careful where you sat and be wary of the drops coming from above.

The storm ended sometime on Saturday, and most of us went home on Sunday morning or afternoon. Three days and three nights of prayers and waiting, anxiety for most, wondering what our communities would be like when we got back.

Sunday morning, driving around Kingston, the most damage was fallen trees. One historic place called Devon House, with a lot of big trees, some museums, and the famous Devon House Icecream and tourist shops had a lot of trees that fell with all their roots exposed. This was sad to see since if they had only limbed some of the trees, most of them wouldn’t have fallen.

On the road back to Old Harbour Bay, several power poles were down. Talking to my Mom Thursday night, the big question that she had for me was, did you bring your quilt? (She had made a quilt for me before I left for Jamaica.) I had not thought of the possibility of my roof coming off, and I tried to tell her that my roof was sturdy, but I wasn’t totally sure myself. When I got to my house, the first thing that I looked for was any leaking and if my quilt was okay. Yes, thankfully, no part of the ceiling leaked and everything, the quilt, books and all were dry.

The hallway outside my room leaked (as it did before the storm) and the kitchen had leaked because part of a zinc lifted up. New holes were in the ceiling where Clive and Brenda, my housemates had drilled holes to let out the water—right over one of the working stove burners and cabinets. The dishes on the second shelf all filled with dirty water and I threw out the soaked box of tea as well as two containers of Quaker Oats. Most of the other food items were in cans or otherwise protected containers.

Water from the hallway overflowed from its container into the bathroom, so I had an inch or two to mop up there, but thankfully Clive had mopped up the kitchen overflows. Outside, the yard (about 15’ by 35’) was full of branches. Brenda explained that Clive had limbed our ackee and mango trees, which explained why there were more leaves on the ground than up on the branches. One nearly dead coconut tree (full of insect holes) and only a few feet from the roof of my room fell the other way onto the other coconut tree.

Yesturday afternoon, there were a lot of flies in the yard, and I thought many of them must be attracted to this “rubbish heap.” For a while now, after my begging, Clive had stopped burning this pile of mostly yard and food waste. I had objected because I didn’t want him to burn any plastic or household waste. I knew that neither Brenda or Clive wanted to burn the pile but wanted the flies gone, and so I decided that I wanted to have my own campfire. I did a really good job of burning all of the “trash” from the tree head and containing the fire.

The sections of the tree trunk are right now being used as a makeshift bench, but one has to be careful sitting there because the 5 sections are stacked lengthwise.

In my last entry from August, I had told you that I was building a toilet with a family and a mason. Things were going alright on the toilet, the pit was completed, and the house required some finishing touches. A week before the storm, I had put up the mosquito netting. After the storm though, the zinc house was in pieces on the ground and we were set back a few work days. Money for the labour finished long ago, and the mason hasn’t returned since. That and the fact that the future caretaker was out of town is why a few weeks ago I was the only one working.

Work has not yet started back on rebuilding the toilet and I don’t know when it will start back up. Right now, goats are using it the steps going up and the pit below as their personal area for toileting. Very funny J!

Ivan did some of the work that needed to be done, namely clearing some of the shacks on the beach. However, New shacks have replaced the old ones, one of them (with new zinc) is only about 12 feet from the water’s edge. This is not good at all because the boats don’t have proper space to pull up and anchor. Several boats were smashed and damaged because of this.

This just shows the crazy selfishness that I have to deal with and see through. A large group of people tries to sell and make a living on the beach every day, but people need to see that as a fishing beach, without fishing, the beach area has no business.

Parish Council is heading the development and progress of the beach project. As the new shacks were going up, the key people were occupied in other parts of the Parish dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane. After a visit to the beach with my supervisor, Mr. Graham, we decided that it was time to take a much stronger action to show that we mean business about the shacks not being there. When I talked with one Parish Council counterpart, he said that a truck and tractor would be visiting the beach soon. He didn’t know when, but soon. He said that a letter to the police is also in the works asking them to please patrol the area to stop/prevent the building/rebuilding of shacks. This was good to hear, but I will believe it when I see it.

This past week, visiting the office, I was able to finish off two Sentinels with time to rest in between. I hope as life settles back down, that the reading club gets off the ground (again) this year. Reading desparately needs to improve in this town, but finding dedicated volunteers to assist with guiding the participants in learning to read is worse than pulling teeth. It shouldn’t be, but here in Old Harbour Bay, it is.

OHDAC (my second appointed agency) is having another expo. I would love to have Science and Health there, but I don’t know if it will actually happen. What an idea though!! I think I am going to have to write to the Mother Church and see what I can do as far as cases of Science and Health and poster advertisements. I don’t have any idea if there is anyone in my church body that would volunteer to come, but who knows??

Let me sign off from this very long update… until another day… Take care of yourselves and be a blessing. Love God, love yourself, and love humanity!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 3 Comments

Latest Project Updates

Dear Friends,

I know that I have been very quiet, but I do have an excuse! I went home for vacation for a month. I was my sister’s Maid of Honor for her wedding on July 24, 2004. Check out for pictures. The whole wedding was really beautiful!

Now that I am back here in Jamaica, things are going fine. I am enjoying my time more than I did before. I am taking things less seriously, and having a good time.

As far as my projects are going, things are moving along smoothly, despite the fact that I was gone for a month. The fishing beach project is progressing. Some key agencies, Ministry of Health (thats my boss), and I met on the beach last week to decide where the new “refuse bay” and toilet facilities would go. That meeting went well and everyone liked a kind of crazy idea that I had. That idea was to use already existing stalls (that currently hold boat engines) into the pits for the toilets. This will be a lot less work and we will have a lot more toilets in the end. It will also be one of the most creative looking restrooms I’ve ever seen. People will wash their hands on the floor level, but to use a toilet, one will climb about three stairs (or up a ramp) to a three feet high platform where some wh. ch. accessible stalls will be. The rest will be up another six or seven steps. The guy organizing this is hoping to tile all the walls and flooring, so it should be (hopefully) really nice.

On a different project, in the end of April, my boss and I both attended a week-long Peace Corps training conference. At that time, we both were inspired to try to build a very special kind of toilet as a model for Old Harbour Bay. Before I left for vacation, we wrote letters seeking funding, and after I got back, it was just coming through. The labour costs were looking like they would be a lot, and the new set of Peace Corps Trainees were in the area, so I had the brilliant idea to use them as the labour for the project. I knew that this would be perfect because putting a VIDP together as a trainee is a great project. Anyway, I saw that the timing was perfect for everyone involved. The check was delivered to my house on Thursday, August 5th. That day, I went shopping and bought all of the necessary items to have a work day on Saturday, August 7th, to pour the foundation. This was also useful because Friday was a Jamaican holiday and all the stores would be closed.

Well, last Saturday’s work day turned out really well. We have a good mason and helper, the Peace Corps Trainees are all very helpful, willing and hard workers, and the lunch and cold water provided by the owner was very nice!

Our next work day is Saturday coming, August 14th, where we will lay the blocks and dress them up. (Picture two cubes, side by side with trap doors to clean the pits. Actually, check out the photo gallery for a better idea of what these special toilets look like.)

Some time later, We will put on the pre-prepared slabs and risers, and make the house around it. These toilets are called Ventilated Improved Double Pit Latrines (VIDP). They are useful when the water table is very, very high and a regular pit latrine doesn’t work because it would contaminate the water systems (both the ocean and aquifers).

So that is what I am up to these days. I love you all and take care! I would really love to hear from anyone of you!


Posted in Peace Corps Experience | 1 Comment

Project Updates

Dear Friends,

Just in case anyone was wondering, I am alive and well and working hard. I
know that I haven’t written in a long time and that I need to. It is the
same old “busy” excuse, and I know, that is a very bad excuse for not
writing friends. I hope you will forgive me. Below are some of the
projects I have been working on.

A reading club for all ages and reading levels for people from Old Harbour
Bay. This is very needed because illiteracy is very high where I live and
(I believe) the source of many epidemic societal problems such as
unemployment, lack of a skilled populous, self-reliance and independance,
self-confidence and self-esteem, etc, etc.

Sanitation work with Ministry of Health (this is work that I should have
been doing all along, but alas, only just started recently. This is a
result of making more of an effort to communicate and share my time more
equitably with both offices (SDC and MOH) (Social Development Commission).

Major Project with the Old Harbour Bay Fishing Beach and key
stakeholders–as is the beach is in a deplorable condition and needs
attention, but the people that seem to rule the beach–fish vendors and
market sellers–refuse to be controlled, or so the belief is.

Last Friday, I helped a friend put on a “Treat” for the children which means
that we fed them and had icecream and other fun things. A Christmas Treat
is a favorite tradition. So the organizer, my friend, wanted to treat all
of the children of OHB. For five basic schools (ages 3 – 5/6) and one
primary school (grades 1 – 6), the number of children is about 1,000. The
number that actually came was much less, but still there were “nuff
children” there. I ended up leaving early for several reasons. Music had
arrived for one, which meant huge tall speakers that boomed throughout the
school grounds and I wasn’t interested in staying any longer.

the day was a very rainy day. After reaching home, I decided to put on
clothes that I didn’t mind getting wet and went to clean up the litter from
the community center. I actually got almost all of the trash from the area
where I was working, so that felt great.

So that was Friday. Saturday and Sunday, I hung out near my house and read
Sentinels and the March Journal and cleaned my room (which needed it).

Tomorrow, Monday, May 24th, I may be tempted to feel pulled in several
different directions. Labour Day is a very big working holiday here in
Jamaica, where every different organization has a project that they are
working on and want volunteers for.

The Labour Day project for the Youth Leaders is to hang out with the girls
there and help them plant all sorts of fruit trees and vegetables and other

My most immediate community, Blackwood Gardens, the larger Old Harbour Bay
community, and the Kiwanis club will be continuing the cleaning up of the
community center and planting trees and flowers. I specifically wanted to
clean up the plastic litter from the place because I knew that I was and am
in the minority of people that feel that burning trash is bad. Since I
really didn’t want to see all that plastic in the air, I took it upon myself
to have a nice time cleaning it up and putting it (via several trips) into
the metal rubbish/trash drum.

The next day, Tuesday, May 25, is a meeting planned for the fishing beach
project, the first one with me in the picture. It has been said that
fifteen times a year, people come with projects to fix up the fishing beach,
so a lot of people are pessimistic about any results. of course, this train
of thought doesn’t make my job any easier, but it is clearly an opportunity
for prayer!

In the meantime before Tuesday’s meeting, I need to gather some statistics
about the beach and schedule a meeting for Thursday, May 27 for the Reading

On top of all this (really lovely work), I spent some time with my Jamaican
brother (Queon) Thursday and Friday and he is asking me if I can help him
study for two exams coming up. Here in Jamaica, the exams to get out of
high school are called CXCs. I think as many as fifteen are offered, but
any student can take as many or as little as they want. Having passed
particular CXC tests is required for any school or job that a student might
want to get into, and likewise, not having CXCs makes a person very hard to
hire. Anyway, my younger brother here in Jamaica is working on preparing
for two of his CXCs for next week (Tuesday and Wednesday). While visiting
the house, he and I worked together exploring the meaning of words like
responsibility, moral, and amoral, integrity, virtuous, etc. I certainly
enjoyed being his tutor for a while and he seemed to not mind and even
appreciate my lectures. We had a good and fruitful time, and of course I
want to go back and work with him some more.

Well, as they say here in jamaica, it is “minutes to” three, and I need to
sign off and get to bed.

Take care and be blessed,

ps. Thursday, May 20, a local youth club hosted a spelling bee competition,
and I was there for 12 solid hours. I acted as an observer for the first
half (10-4) and the chief judge for the second half (4-9:20). For the first
ten of eleven total hours of spelling, the winner only had answered one
question wrong. 28 contestants started out, and even at 4 pm, only one
person had been eliminated. (Granted, we hadn’t moved from the beginning
round of words, and being so late decided to do so at that point, but still,
the spellers showed a lot of courage throughout the day.) Anyway, it was a
lot of fun and I think that even just judging the event has had a good
‘rub-off effect’ on my vocabulary. 🙂

alright, take care until next time!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Comments Off on Project Updates

A Successful Clean-up!!

Dear Friends,

I know that it has been a very long time since I have written all of you giving tidbits of my experience here in Jamaica, and I apologize. I am going to try to make this letter detailed but brief (all that know me really well knows that that can be challenging for me, but I am going to try) because I am utterly exhasted from todays work, but let me tell you what I can.

“Pantan town” is a little community along Main Street, Old Harbour Bay that always gets flooded when the rains come. Part of the reason for this is because they have a drain in front of their community that is filled with dirt, sludge, and trash and therefore doesn’t drain, and the other part is that they have a gully along the back of the community, which isn’t that deep, but when it the rains come, i have heard that the overflowing is pretty bad. So in essence, this “likkle” community is sandwiched between two drainage systems and neither of them work very well. And of course, the land is flat, the houses lie low, and fine dirt/silt is the name of the game–no one has any lawns or plants growing because for one, the goats eat pretty much every nice plant (there are maybe three fenced in yards with nice green areas).

About a month ago, I was taking pictures of the drain on Main Street, and two community members approached me, asking me what we could do. It was decided that we needed to form a Citizen’s Association, which we did. We elected a board and decided that weekly meetings until the clean up would be best. Planning the day was a struggle and to tell you the truth, last night I really wasn’t sure how the day would fly.

I had promised them that I would bring what we call water boots (you call rain boots) and we collectively decided to write a letter to beg for some tools. A letter was sent to the Councillor and Member of Parliment for the area. The Councillor came through and donated $5,000 J (a little less than $100 US) towards our effort. I went ahead and bought a wheelbarrel, a shovel, two rakes, two machettes, and a file. We had also decided to install some signs that basically tell the public the consequences for dumping in gullies and such. So I also got the signs laminated and they should be installed some time in the near future.

The day was supposed to start at 6:30. Work really started about 8 or 8:30, but that is alright (Jamaican time). For the first 30-50 minutes, I was signing out boots and gloves. We filled about 23 bags, more or less. 22 very heavy ones for sure. In all, I think we had about 30-35 community volunteers involved. I wanted each bag to be filled as much as possible, but that also meant double bagging some of them which was fine.

The kids were my best helpers. Since a lot of the work today was picking up and bagging trash/rubbish, they were very useful in holding the bags and picking out stones and so forth (and raking and shoveling).

The men were able to tame a few overgrown thorny bushes and clear other plant rubbish. We were also able to clean up a certain area so that water pipes can be fixed (in three different places).

The rubbish truck came between 3:30 and 4 and oh was it good to see that trash go! The rest of the time was spent cleaning up and organizing the boots and gloves. The children had washed most of the boots and gloves. In trying to put them in some kind of order, most had to be re-washed. When the boots and gloves were ready to be put away, I wiped off each boot and every glove as each still needed it. This took me a long time, especially with all the “picknie” (children) running around and the dust they kicked up. “Stay away from the boots!” became a commonly recited instruction. Finally though, I did get all of the boots and gloves packed away and I was ready to be at home. Getting there was another issue though, with a wheelbarrel, 14 pairs of men’s water boots, 30 odd pairs of gloves, the shovel, rake, and two machettes! I did get a ride and thankfully all of the stuff came in one trip.

All day the chilren had been asking if we could go to sea to bathe and play. Everytime, I said Yes, when the work is done. As it got later, I had to rephrase that to maybe and then “Not this time” because the sun was almost down.

When I got home, I gave all the stuff to the person who agreed to store it. Then to my house. No one was there. I was so hungry and so tired, but the thought of going to the sea was nagging me and sounded so nice. Old Harbour Bayers are afraid of the sea at night and warn that dangerous things happen at that time. So, I looked for someone who would be willing to take me down, so I could be in the ocean for a few minutes and then come home. As it turned out, a good friend, his wife and family, and I all piled in for the 15 minute adventure. We went, I swam (the water was so heavenly and so were the stars!!), and then we were on our way. It was so nice and very refreshing to be in the ocean after that day of work, and of course, I am very grateful to my friends who took me there.

My little sister (back in America) asked me some time ago, “So Rach, are you totally tan??” and until now, I had to say, no, I am not at all. Today, I can finally answer, Yes! i have a deep, dark tan now!
(Color is another whole discussion which I will have to email you about later.)

Anyway, it was a glorious day and I am grateful for every bit. I had asked for prayerful support the night before and I am so very grateful that I did. (Thank you A.!!)

So much for the details! Anyway, I hope and pray that everything is wonderful with you and I always love comments!

Much love,

ps–pictures of the day will soon be coming in my new photo albumn–I hope!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Leave a comment

The Bicycle Ride

For a long time now I have wanted to ride a bicycle, even if just for fun. Every day I see men using bicycles to transport themselves and some large load–either a couple of long 2 x 4 boards, a propane gas tank, a bag of charcoal, or a bundle of grasses upon their head. I always look out for women riding on a bicycle, and I have seen young girls riding, but it is only once in a blue moon that I have ever seen a grown woman on a bicycle. For a while I wondered if there were any cultural inhibitions keeping women off of these two-wheeled transportation systems, and I still can’t figure it out. I asked men and women Jamaicans if they had ever noticed this phenomenon, and one said that women do ride bicycles here, while the other said that they hadn’t noticed.

Anyway, next door, a second floor is being built on top of the first, and there is a man that comes to work on the house that has an old-time bicycle, the kind that I really love with the handle bars shaped like a “C” and the wide flat seat. Well, when I came home from work this afternoon, I saw that bike and said to myself, “I wonder if the owner wouldn’t mind if I borrowed his bicycle for a bit.” I dismissed the thought, but it came back so I thought that I would ask and see what happened.

As it turned out, he said yes, so I quickly went inside the house and changed my clothes, came back outside, and away I went. True, with the road conditions as they are, with potholes and all, the boys on the basketball court had reason to say “Take time Rachel!”, but I think that the community was so surprised to see a girl on a bicycle, charging forward, that it took them aback. For others, seeing “the white girl” zoom past lifted them out of themselves, even if for a few seconds. I don’t mean this to be presumtious in any way, but as far as I can tell, only a certain class rides on bicycles, and in their minds, a white person didn’t fit into that group.

Also, as mentioned before, bikes are usually used to get from point A to point B, and not for recreational purposes (excluding children), so again, this ride didn’t fit into their expectations. I got a lot of smiles and surprised looks, but I think it could be a good thing for the community to see that bicycles are not just for men and not just for work, but can also be fun.

I rode for the pure joy and fun of it, and it was great. I did a figure 8 through the whole community, and surprised myself how fast I could encircle the town. I passed all sorts of pedestrians and other bicycle riders, but none had a destination as I had mine, or so it seemed, because I passed everyone on the street. I guess people even amble along, even on a bicycle. They all asked me, “Why you ride so fast?” and “I didn’t know you were such a bicycle rider”, and I responded “Because I love to go fast!”, and “Yes, I have always had a bicycle, and I love to ride.” The next thing: Call Peace Corps office tomarrow and ask if there are any bicycles left which I could use.

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Leave a comment

Project Proposal for January, 2004

With Regard to Schools and Students

Talk with students on certain topics relating to the environment, community, health, proper disposal of trash, volunteerism, composting, recycling, life skills, and technology
Crayons (150 boxes)
Healthy Living Coloring Book (Part of this proposal)
Any teaching aides, brochures, pamphlets, or literature that your organization would have which speak to the areas noted above–or on subjects that you think I should add to the list.
Also, if you have any teaching guides or information about your organization (in print or digital), all would be helpful.

Organize with selected schools, students, and communities, a series of clean-up days for chosen areas around each school and surrounding neighborhoods.
Funds for food and drinks (in cash or in kind)
Trash bags
Pick up of trash collected

Reproduction of the Healthy Living Coloring Book–for distribution to all schools in the area from Old Harbour Bay to Ginger Ridge, the parish of St. Catherine, or possibly Island-wide) Will work with the Construction Resource and Development Center (CRDC) who produced the first set.

With Regard to Community Involvement

Activate community involvement and work on specific projects. For example, to clean, clear, dredge, and eventually cement the drains on Main Street, and Bay Bottom, Old Harbour Bay
(Will apply separately for funding of projects themselves)
Funds for food and drinks (in cash or in kind)
Trash bags
Pick up of trash collected

Increase regularity and reliability of trash pick-up (Old Harbour Bay)
Cooperation from applicable agencies

Put up signs or posters along gullies and drains that educate and sensitize community members on the dangers and or consequences of throwing trash in the gullies or drains.
Several of the “It Nuh Legal!” posters from NEPA, or “No Dumping” signs

Wash drums of their poisonous chemicals before dispersing them throughout the community as rubbish/trash recepticles. Unity Youth Club and Blackwood Gardens Citizens Association are both in posssion of drums ready or nearly ready to be dispersed All of these drums have varying quantities of the dangerous chemical left. According to the BASF website, you can “clean” up the chemical with water, ammonia, and detergent. I propose that for the next time that the Unity Youth club works on the drums that each be cleaned before heading to its new home in Old Harbour Bay, so close to the ocean and water table.
A gallon (?) of Ammonia, a large package of detergent, and cooperation!

Long Term Goals/Hopes for Communities and Schools

To form a sustainable and active recycling programme
Green Spaces/Beautification Programme

Old Harbour Schools

Heart Trust Center
Old Harbour Preparatory School
Old Harbour Primary School

Old Harbour Bay Schools

Baptist Bay Basic School
Blackwood Gardens Basic School
Children First
Old Harbour Bay Primary School
Prophecy Basic School
St. Wade’s Basic School

Available Voluntary Services

Cave Progressive Youth Club
Unity Youth Club
Terminal Progressive Youth Club
Portmore Community College Volunteers / Students

Agencies to work with

Construction Resource and Development Center (CRDC)
Create an Environment for Clean Living
Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ)
Food for the Poor
Grace Kennedy & Co. Ltd.
Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET)
Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF)
Metropolitan Parks and Management (MPM)
Ministry of Education (MOE)
Ministry of Health (MOH)
National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA)
National Environmental Societies Trust (NEST)
National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)
National Works Agency (NWA)
National Water Commission (NWC)
Old Harbour Development Area Committee (OHDAC)
Recycle For Life
Ridge to Reef Watershed (R2RW) Project
South Coast Development and Portland Bight
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
United States Peace Corps
Water Resources Authority (WRA)

If this proposal goes through, everything will change very fast!!
Since work has picked up again, I am not sure anymore what I should be/need to be/want to be doing with my work time. Another opportunity for listening from the divine Mind and Heavenly Father 🙂

Until next time, take care and have a blessed day!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Comments Off on Project Proposal for January, 2004

What I do

Today, Tuesday, January 13, 2004, was a good day. I DID get to study this morning. Both some of the lesson and some from my World Scriptures Anthology. I woke at 6:30 from the alarm and got up at ten to seven – hopefully I can do even better tomarrow.

At work, the day was quite productive – when I arrived, Mr. Titus was addressing letters. He and I continued to address them until we were ready to leave and go deliver them through out the town – in his car. It was wonderful to have someone to help me do this, as for the magazine and Community Expo, I had to walk all over town by myself and it took forever. We were able to cover a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. In addition, we got into a discussion about CS, and he was very interested, asking many questions.

We worked together straight up until just after five, when he had to leave and go pick up his daughter. I continued to deliver a few letters and talk to some community members.

Since everyone always asks, so what do you actually do? I am going to attempt to answer that question. I work for a committee called the Old Harbour Development Area Committee, and I am supposedly representing Ministry of Health in that committee. (Supposedly because I don’t actually visit – or rather, I haven’t had very much interaction with – the Ministry of Health.) Anyway, on paper, I represent Ministry of Health in the Committee. I am the only Peace Corps Volunteer on the committee, and the only person on the committee that doesn’t have another full-time job. The other members that make up the committee are leading members of the community.

OHDAC was started around two years ago by the Social Development Commission (SDC). I work in the SDC office in Old Harbour, and I am the only official representitive from OHDAC. Even though SDC is the parent organization, for some reason, there is a line drawn between SDC and OHDAC, especially when it comes to budgetary matters. This presents an interesting situation because OHDAC has no budget and is parasitically feeding off of the SDC budget!

Anyway? in the fall, OHDAC worked very hard to stage a Community Expo and publish a magazine. At the Expo, we had about 30/35 booths. Our venue was Ascot Hall, the nicest hall in town for plays, dinners, dances, and other community events. We were actually planning to have it outside, but a few days of rain before the event pushed us to look for a place inside. The Expo was successful except for the fact that we advertised it as being from 10-6, and the exhibitors started packing up from after three pm!!

The other downer on the Expo was that we were trying for the magazine to be ready for sale AT the event, but we had only seriously decided to publish a magazine a few short weeks (maybe 2 or 2 1/2) before the day. The Expo was to be on Wednesday November 5, and I personally handed the graphic designer/printry all of what I had for ads and articles on Thursday night, less than a week before the Expo. I then spent all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday with the graphic designer to do what I could to help her get the work done. Also, everything was stalled when the committee was slow with the command to go ahead and print the magazine. Monday night, I had come back to the office with a dummy, and all the committee had was criticism, but they hadn’t been working on it to improve it, and they had no interest to do so!

Anyway, the day of the Expo came, and a small number of magazines got printed, and a co-worker and I drove into Kingston, in the middle of the Expo to help finish up the printing stages and hopefully bring back the magazine to the Expo to sell. You can figure out what happened next – we got back at 4:30, expecting the Expo to continue as advertised until 6:00 pm, but the place was absolutely empty, not a vender or booth, nor a customer or community member in sight! I was very disappointed and disheartened.

I spent the rest of November trying to distribute the magazine and collect ad money and other small projects at the office. December was very, very slow. Last week in the office, I sorted out two files that needed organizing. For some days in December, the most useful things I did on a work day were the personal errands that got done before, during, or after work. On those days, you might’ve found me playing solitare on the computer. Hopefully, since the holidays are gone and the feeling is waning, these dulldrum days will also go too!

Because Jamaica operates on a slower pace, I also have slowed down. I am learning to not rush anything, because if an activity requires rushing, then it simply won?t happen, or it will be late.[fullstop].

So, what am I hoping and planning next? I will be submitting a proposal to OHDAC that I might spend most of my time with and in schools.

My office spends an immense amount of time discerning, diagnosing, and discussing what the problems are, and then lets community members spend another heap of time talking about how bad it is and how it hasn’t changed and might not ever change. Obviously, that is where the Christ Spirit is needed to help guide the office into inspired activity and productivity, and that includes me!

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Comments Off on What I do

Thoughts for the day

Today, Monday, January 12, 2004, I learned again how much not fun it is to come to work at the late hour of 10:00 am. Went to a meeting at the Heart/Trust Centre, and there is a small possibility that I might teach classes there. I say small because my supposed schedule is filling up. Supposed because it is still only in my head. I shared it with Monica, but she didn’t say anything.

Today was one of those days that was frustrating and I really could’ve used a lot more “quiet space” of being at peace. I think that that peace leaves me when I feel guilt for having coming in late, and the tension of not knowing what to do, or wanting to do certain work but not having the technology, or access to the technology that I need. That is very frustrating!!

Digital woes: I have so many places for contact information whether it is Microsoft Entourage (the address book system on my computer), my hotmail account, my anbell account, and my cell phone. I would really love to have everything syncronized and at the same time, in one place. However, every time that I wish I could mesh it all together, I ask myself, okay, so what would you do with all those contacts in your phone for example, and the answer keeps me from buying a PDA. Besides, who needs another digital device?? I SHOULD already have enough digital toys, being as I am supposed to be living a modest Jamaican lifestyle!

Digital woe # 2 is that I have a wonderful camera, but the three photo programs I have on my computer are all very miserable and difficult to work with! Monica has Windows XP (which is wonderfully easy for photos), but that is her computer and she is reluctant to share it.

Gratitude for the day: I am VERY grateful that the internet finally works, and works well most of the time. I am grateful that I know that God is Mind, that I reflect this Mind, and that all wisdom comes from Him, and this Mind is an infinite source.

I am grateful for the recent inspiration, an epiphany really, that my body is a temple, with which I [can/must] glorify God. This means that I can only see good, be good, etc. If I am fully glorifying Him/Her, sickness, sin, disease, and death have NO place. One key to this idea is that when evil presents itself to let it go, to simply let it pass. To deny it takes time and thought energy. At first, I resisted the thought of not denying it, but from experience I can tell you that when you are concious of honoring God, nothing is going to take you off base from that. It is kind of hard to explain, but it was a nice feeling – this epiphany experience from Sunday.

I am grateful that I have the strength to go to sleep now, and get up at an hour so that I can be at work at 9:00 am. That means that I need to leave at 8:30 and be up by 6:30!! God give me strength!!!!! Please!! Back home (in California and St. Louis), somehow I was able to sustain getting up and being at work before 7. I need to demonstrate the same commitment, now, here in Jamaica!!!

Inspirational thought: In the Buddhist version of the Prodical Son story, the son returns to the father and immediately turns away in fear. The father sees this and works to come to the son’s level.

God knows where we are and sees our need (of growth, need for support, for consolation) before we even know, and has the answer waiting for us before we even ask.

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Comments Off on Thoughts for the day

New Years Resolutions for 2004

* DAILY spiritual study and prayer time
* DAILY journaling
* Read more Sentinels and Journals
* Daily recording of lessons learned and or of gratitude for the day
* Blog on a regular basis!!

I could put to cook more or clean more often, or to read books, or this or that, but right now, I need to master these very simple goals. They seem to be eternal goals that never get quite fulfilled. And the idea is that if I am able to accomplish the goals stated above, then everything else in my life will straighten out

Posted in Peace Corps Experience | Comments Off on New Years Resolutions for 2004