Thursday, March 22, 2012

To Serve is to Grow

What a day for the Infant School!  We started off as usual – Sally and Mary Ann with their K small groups, Ruth with her small 1st grade groups and Jane with her 2nd grade group of boys and girls.  Today, both of the 2nd grade teachers were absent.  This was our last day at the school as there is no school on Friday.  After lunch all four of us were summoned to the front of the school where the entire student body had assembled, grouped by grade levels around the tree.  A special program and presentations had been arranged for us.  As we sat in our “special” chairs, each class presented their volunteer with beautifully designed cards which had been signed by the students.  Our pictures were taken with the student presenters.  This was followed by speeches from Mrs. Samuel, the principal, and Ms. Rene, a Kindergarten teacher.  The children then sang several songs.  A 2nd grade girl, Choral Menvielle sang a beautiful solo.  She has a lovely voice and did not appear at all nervous – such stage presence for a 2nd grader.  The entire school closed the program by singing “We love You” to the tune of “If you’re Happy and you Know it Clap You’re Hands”.  Many hugs were then given.  There were tears threatening in many eyes, min included.  What a wonderful and joyous ending to our two weeks at Anse La Raye Infant School.

Dinner at Julietta’s was a special treat.  The coconut shrimp was delicious and a fitting ending to our fine dining experiences.  As our St Lucia adventure draws to a close most of us probably have mixed feelings.  I know I do.    A sense of sadness, nostalgia and melancholy at leaving St Lucia and especially our new found friends in St Lucia and our colleagues from around the US.

And, most importantly,  a certain sense of pride in what we have accomplished in our two short weeks:  A furthering of the English skills of our students, establishing and furthering relationships in the community, setting up the Earth Boxes, doing needed skills in the health field and our help in paving the way for future volunteers to continue Global Volunteers’ work here in St Lucia.

- Jane

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Life is Good

As the thought of the day was spoke (the Beatle lyric “I Get by With a Little Help from My Friends”) it came to mind how true it is, no matter where we are.  Thank you friends for your help. 

We have passed now what we called “hump day” in the working world.  It is interesting to me how we easily fall into routines, though they may differ radically from ours at home.  After a brief discussion about verb conjugation with Marinna our work day began with a slight transportation SNAFU, which with flexibility was resolved with a quick drop off to the Secondary School and return.  Our arrival to the Primary School was only a bit late and we found the school at an assembly which was a deviation from the usual Monday morning.  Principal Lawrence was giving the results of a prediction contest held earlier in the month and the winner was to be chosen at the assembly.  It didn’t have quite the impact but ultimately a winner was chosen.  He lauded the “Earth Box” planters and gave a big of instruction about them.  He is on a planting team and sounded proud of it. Due to the lateness of the beginning of the school day, students were a bit slow in coming to my assigned room.  Kathy and Jan were busy in and out of this room, so while waiting for students I minimally assisted them with unpacking.  Mr. G Lawrence gave me a copy of the Form 4 test to peruse while waiting and I noticed that it was quite difficult containing sections on history, measurement, geography as well as reading and math which is all that is required on our State Test. 

After spending the morning with students I took a quick walk after lunch to find my coke fix even though I was told it was not good for me because it had caffeine.  This is the routine previously discussed as coke isn’t in the “at home” diet – Dunkin Donuts, however, is. 

On to Castries!!  We filled two vans for our foray to the Capital City.  Things were closing up but some managed to find a few items for purchase.  JJ’s at Castries by the foot of the cruise ship dock was alive with steel band music when we arrived.  After a complementary rum or fruit punch dinner was served.  It was not MahiMahi.  Enjoying Karaoke (some good- some decent – some not the best ever) capped off our evening.

As we sat toasting with our eyes to the sunset in the harbor most agreed – Life is Good!

- Jeanne

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Great Day as a Global Volunteer

It’s a brand new day in Anse La Raye, Tuesday March 20th First day of spring (obviously not mentioned here). 

I got on the 8:30 am shuttle without my cohort in crime, Laurie, as she had left at 8:00 am to go on an earlier home visit.  When I arrived at Roving Caregivers headquarters, the library, at shortly before 9 am, Laurie was still there waiting for Chanelle who she was teaming up with.  Waiting is a big part of our daily schedule.

Agna, who I was going with arrived shortly after and we went up the hill.  Luckily, as compared to last week, we got a ride most of the way.  However as happens more times than not mother/child were not there.  Today was the health clinic for babies and that’s where we could find our mothers.  Fortunately we lucked out again and got a ride back down the hill.

The health clinic was a busy little place.  Mothers with their children waited a long time to be seen.  As  compared to the US where babies would be screaming and toddlers running around the waiting area, the lobby was filled with  children who didn’t cry.  It was nice to see everybody.  There were a few dads at the clinic who were accompanied by the mother’s grandmother as the mother was at work.  I have felt a great connection with these families and enjoyed the rest of the morning talking, walk, rocking and singing.

 I feel Laurie and I have really lucked out on our assignment.  We tell each other although we are officially known as Roving Caregivers; we feel we are as much as Roving Ambassadors for Global Volunteers in Anse La Raye. 

The Roving Caregiver program allows us to be a guest in the homes of Anse La Raye families who have children who are birth to three.  We are considered an emotional and social support along with providing learning opportunities and child development activities. 

Today was no different than other days.  We walk down the streets, alleys and the sheet metal gates that lead to more places, as we are walking we talk to the people, ask questions share laughs, try different foods, look at gardens which are plentiful and my personal quest to learn more about the “one pot”.  We spent time at the library experiencing the sounds of the street, the music, the cars, the voices, horns, trucks, the jackhammer as people go by and stop at the window, or sit on the porch for a spell. 

The evening meeting was highlighted by the “migrating Sand Cranes” card that was given to all of us by Dorothy.  What a great memory this will be.  Dinner was at Julieta’s with great food, great conversation and ending another great day as Global Volunteers in Anse La Raye.

- Gabby

Monday, March 19, 2012

Start of Week Two

The start of our second week, I lay in bed thinking about all we hoped to get done in these 5 days. “We” is Jan Dunn and me, the so-called Earth Box Team.  I am very thankful that Jan is my partner, because I have neither her skill nor her patience when it comes to dealing with groups of really excited children. To see Jan in action with the 5th and 6th graders has shown me how effective it can be to praise the children doing the positive behaviors and as much as possible, avoid giving attention to those who are not. This may seem like the obvious approach, but it isn’t easy to do, and it doesn’t seem very popular at the primary school.

Breakfast was tasty as it has been every morning here at JJ’s Paradise. I’m afraid I might go through bacon withdrawal when I return homeJ. After Laurie read the journal and Ruth gave us the message for the day, Ron and Warren gave us our marching orders and we were off to begin our second week of activity in the village of Anse le Raye.

Warren arrived and we loaded our Earth Boxes for the day into the van. Actually, Ian loaded them in a specific arrangement in order to get them all in – I think he has done this before.  We arrived at Francoise Henry’s where he and Marcia selected the seedlings we needed for Monday and Tuesday – tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cucumbers and onions. Some were very small and still in the hoop house and others were rather larger and had been moved outside. They were carefully loaded into the van and off we went to Anse le Raye.

According to our schedule, we were to plant three boxes at each of the two day care centers and finish planting at the Infant School. Shelly had given us the window of time that would be best for the kids at Homey Day Care so we were shooting for that. Warren helped us unload in front of Kids Steppe and we were ready to roll.

Starting at Kids Steppe we guided the 5-year olds in planting three boxes – one each of tomatoes, peppers and spinach. It is fun to watch the kids see and feel the soil and to hold the plants – such big bright eager eyes in their little faces. The teacher, Ms. Henri, was very engaged. Not only did she help with the planting, but she managed the children so that it was a relatively calm and organized activity – not at all what I was expecting! Still trying to stay within our window, next we carried the three other boxes and plants next door to Homey Day care and had another calm organized session with Bernice in charge of the 4-5 year olds. Curious and excited, all the children wanting their hands in the soil at the same time, Bernice calmly asked the children to listen, step back, and take turns. And they did. Jan was working on a second box with a small group of children.  At both day cares we repeated over and over that the water goes into the tube and only into the tube because the Earth Box is a special kind of garden

Jan found us a large quiet space with a lovely afternoon breeze in the Home Day care where we enjoyed our lunch. I don’t know the history but I am curious about the contrast between the two adjacent daycares = Homey Day Care seems as large and new as Kids Steppe seems old and small. But, the staff I have met in each seem equally professional and kind and the children at both places seem happy and clean. To see the kids napping today was memorable – the babies in their cribs, 5 yr. olds with their heads on their desk and the younger children lined up asleep on floor mats or a shared bed.
At the Infant School Jan collected a boy and a girl from the second grade to come out and plant the two tomato seedlings. In spite of Jane reminding us numerous times to please come and get her when we were going to plant, we forgot. Sorry Jane. After school we talked to some of the teachers about watering the Earth boxes. We showed them how to water and when to water, and how not to water, and tried to stress the importance of recording the watering each day on the charts that Jan had made.

Our planting over for the day, Jan and I walked with Gabby to the primary school. Gabby has some interesting and I suspect accurate insights on the RCP and what might make it better but is also very sensitive to our roles as Global Volunteers.  While waiting for our ride, Jan and I checked out the sturdy new bridge that T-squared had built that morning to cross the muddy ditch to the new Earth Box location – yeah T-squared! Ian came with the van, filled up with Global Volunteers, for a cozy ride back to JJs.

I continue to be surprised and warmed by the camaraderie among our group. I think it must be like the show Survivor in how quickly you get to know your teammates – seems like you have known most of them for a long time, not just a few days. I guess it’s not like survivor in the way everyone demonstrates kindness, as team members we are all working together to accomplish a common set of goals which require us to try to think like villagers, and we wear more clothes. We adjourned for the evening. Jan and I met briefly to pat ourselves on the back for accomplishing all the things we had set out to do Monday and made a few changes in the schedule for the coming days based on feedback from Bonnie re the secondary school and Gabby re the Roving Caregivers.

Just as I was about to turn the door now into my room, I saw a tiny bug-eyed frog or toad sitting atop the doorknob so I encouraged him off and went in. The other half of Tome-squared, who happens to be my husband, was already in bed and after a few shared stories about our days, we both conked out.  It was a good day in Anse le Raye.
- Kathy

Friday, March 16, 2012

A day in the Life of a Roving Caregiver Global Volunteer

It is Friday which means Team Building Day at the library!  Gabby and I have been anxiously awaiting this day, because we are the “expert” presenters, for the entire day from 9:30am to 2:30pm.  We both had a restless night, a frantic morning throwing together our visual aids, consisting of magazine cutouts and cereal boxes and a cardboard box salvaged by Warren, and with markers, glue and imagination it all came together at 9 am!  Like most things you worry and stress about we had an amazingly great fun day, with laughter, giggles and actual learning!!

Our fearless leader Lucy and 6 caregivers graciously engaged in our icebreakers.  First they answered “If you had a magic wand what would you change……?  Interesting answers, and then Gabby had the girls laughing so hard they were falling off their chairs.  No further comment.  Gabby did a great presentation on creative snacks encouraging parent/child interaction, followed by the caregivers making apple/peanut butter lady bugs. 

I followed with a talk on nutrition and tried very hard to make it interesting.  The young caregivers were so attentive and eager to learn, all in a successful day in Anse La Raye.

- Laurie

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another Great Day

Our four member team arrived at the Marigot secondary School in time for teacher’s morning briefing in the staff lounge. The briefing opened with the Lord’s prayer and a recitation of the 23rd Psalm. How is it I can remember the words to a Psalm from childhood but cant remember why I have walked into a room?

While waiting for all the students to arrive for our first class, I chatted with one of the boys. I asked how long it took him to get to school each day. He reported he lived in a town about 10 miles away. He gets up at 4 AM, leaves his house at 5 AM. He catches a bus to another town where he has to wait for a bus which will bring to Marigot. He arrives at the school around 8:15. At the end of the school day he walks the 10 miles home. Mr Morrisette confirmed his story. This young man can barely read but is committed to getting to school daily. I did not ask but I suspect he cannot afford to pay for the bus both ways that is why he walks home. In one of the other remedial readings classes the topic was “The Interview”. We watched an interview of President Obama and discussed it briefly. Next three students were allowed to interview me.

After lunch Martha and I visited the Agricultural area of the school campus. There are a number of corps growing a large hoop houses well as in terraced row outside. We viewed an Earthbox with 2 tomato plants one of which was fruited. Green beans are being picked. Watermelons will be ready soon. We stopped by to say hello to the rabbits then returned to the main campus. Warren had delivered a number of earth boxes earlier in the day to be secured until later use

At the end of the school day Mr Morrissette announced he would only be at school tomorrow morning for half an hour. He was going to visit the cricket matches. There are matches going on over several days between a team from Australia and a Caribbean team. The captain of the Caribbean team in from St Lucia so there is high interest.

We were picked up by Ian and delivered to JJ’s where Ian had his sign up sheet for weekend tours. Next on to a shower and 5:30 meeting.

Spoke with Ron about going to the Primary School on Friday.

After our evening meeting we adjourned to JD’s where we enjoyed a wonderful meal by the water. It was Dotty’s birthday. Colleen managed to present her with a wonderful red velvet cake. It was shared by all of us. After dessert, one of the Toms and I walked back to JJ’s, where I dropped him off at the pool. It has been a long day. I look forward to a good night’s rest and off to the primary school tomorrow.

- Bonnie

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Third Day of Work

My excitement builds as we are off to our third day of working in the Homey Day Care.  With great anticipation, I looked forward to morning devotions at 9, led be Miss Ruth.  By 9, the little ones, 3-5 have arrived, back packs put away, they are all dressed in clean uniforms with polished and smiley faces, and hair well coiffed.

Like any sporting event, church service or concert there is a prelude as warm-up to the main event.  Cheering and rooting for the home team, setting the mood for a church service or building momentum for a star performance.  Well this classroom a spiritual group of children preparing for their day of learning, acknowledging their faith and worthiness of themselves and how special and precious they are to the world and their love of Jesus, their country and their school.  All of us could learn a lesson and begin our day this way.

Shelley my wonderful partner and I have been taking two children at a time quietly observing them and letting them color.  As with all children, especially boys, there is some spunkiness.  I remembered Super Nancy’s technique from television and employed it.  No words. I just removed him from the activity.  When they would leave time out, with no words, I put them back in time out.  Finally they understood I meant business.  No emotions, no judgment, no room for rebuttal.  Felt pleased with my progress. 

The afternoon Shelly and I began challenging the children’s ability to write and count.  It was a great step.  I’m looking forward in our time with them, to make some in roads relieving some of the burden on Miss Ruth.  It has been a blessing and an honor to work with such respectful youngsters.

- Dorothy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Poem of the Day

Breakfast at 7:30, don't be late

Warren's in charge and he's great!

Cereal, eggs, bacon, and toast

Bananas, kiwi, and starfruit... wow...

Jj's is certainly a great host.

At 8:15 volunteers began to leave

Kathy and I had until ten

So we sat down with computer and pen.

We studied about Earth Boxes

Found what we could

Answers to our questions

It was all good.

10:00 came and it was time for us.

Kathy and I were excited as we got on the bus!

Tom squared joined us along with Warren and Ron

Off to the Building and Construction Store we went.

Dropped off Tom squared, then continued on...

Met with the knowledgeable Mr. Polius and Mrs. James

Talked about Earth Boxes and set up a time

For them to come look and see what we can do

Left  there with the meeting set for tomorrow at two.

Kathy and I were next dropped at the school

We had plans and didn't want to look like a fool.

Visited the Earth Boxes, then had lunch.

Next it was time to meet with some classes

The children would be excited, I had a hunch.

5th grade and 6th, we met with them all.

I had a feeling this is going to be a ball!

We left and we walked down the lane

It was time to visit the preschool

And we were glad there was no rain!

At Kiddies Homey Daycare we met

With Mrs. Ruth Frederick.

She was excited to be getting some plants.

Told us the 5 year olds would be able to help.

This is going to be fun,

I wanted to YELP!

On to the infant school we strolled

The next part of this story has to be told.

We waited and waited, but no one came

They wouldn't forget us...

That would be insane!

While we waited, we befriended a pup.

Full of apologies, Warren showed up.

Time for the meeting

Don't be late.

The day went well for most it seemed,

Better than some would have ever dreamed!

Off to Julietta's we went for some dinner

It was all good...

I don't think I'll get thinner!

Back at JJ's it was time to go to bed.

I had thoughts running through my head.

Despite the ups and downs of the day,

I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, I have to say.

This experience will change me

And all for the best.

I can't wait for tomorrow to come.

So good night... I need to get some rest!

- Jan

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Be flexible so you don't get bent out of shape."

On the first day of service to the Anse la Raye community, the volunteers moved out to their host organizations for introductions and the beginnings of work. Our nine volunteer groups--preschool, infant school, primary school, secondary school, health center, Roving Care Givers, computer literacy, labor and earth boxes--were warmly received owing to the strides made by the first team in January. At the secondary, primary and one of the preschools, the students were gathered in assembly especially convened to greet us. Warren made a point of personally introducing team members to their hosts.

Volunteers in teaching roles readily engaged in classroom work, bringing some fresh ideas and approaches. It was a day in which the volunteer groups began to zero in on, and frame their approaches according to the requests and needs of the hosts. At the evening meeting there was a near unanimous affirmation in answer to Warren’s question: Did you have a good day?

The evening ended with a dinner at Julietta’s overlooking Marigot Bay. The murmur of satisfied voices along with the smiles and laughter of a team that has come together effortlessly marked the successful first day of engagement with the people of St Lucia.

- Ron

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Lucia Team Two!

After a night of very hard rain we rose for an 8 am breakfast.  We are a team of 27.  All of which were present with the exception of two.  One unfortunately will not arrive until today because of passport difficulties.  After eating a nice breakfast of eggs, bacon , cereal and fruit we all introduced ourselves with the name game. 

We were off to church at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Anse la Raye by 9:30am.  It was a nice service with beautiful singing.  At Warren's suggestion we spread out throughout the church as we sat down so all had different experiences.  Brenda and I sat amongst all children probably between 8 and 13, several pews of them all together.  They were very well behaved, if not a little squirmy after  2 1/2 hrs.   It seemed to be an old fashioned service by virtue of the fact that among other things, the priest  suggested to the congregation that the colors they were to wear for lent;  purple, cream, and black, perhaps one other. 

At the end of the service the Priest Fr Athanase invited us to stay and provided us with an interesting history on the Caribbean, St Lucia and more specifically Anse LaRaye.  All very informative and much of it previously unknown to us.  The principal of the primary school Mr. Reeves Lawrence also spoke in response to a question regarding the fishing industry in Anse LaRaye.  He is an Anse La Rayan and is very familiar with the government, the economy and such since he was born here, and has been actively involved in local government as a councilman and other offices.   We were heartily welcomed by everyone we talked to after the service including Mary Samuels the Principal of the Infant School. 

We went back to JJ's for lunch and a rest before our orientation about 4 pm.  Most people had an opportunity to tell something about themselves.  It was very interesting to hear the stories.  You couldn't help but notice the many similarities and the the major differences in backgrounds, interests and how they got here.  There appear to be four newbies on the team and the rest have anywhere from 1 to 25 GV experiences under their belt.  Time dictated that we break up into our respective team assignment groups to plan our strategy for meeting the stated objectives. 

We broke for dinner at 6:30 at JJ's, and were treated to a choice of spaghetti bolognese or Mahi mahi and a wonderful chocolate cake desert.  At dinner we got to meet our 27th teammate Martha Duran who arrived today.  Welcome aboard Martha, and we sang Happy Birthday to Bonnie and Dottie.  It was a wonderful day and we were all ready to say good night and get a good rest and be ready to take on the day tomorrow!!

- Sue