Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Birthday Party In St Lucia


                         How Lucky Am I - A Party At Kidstep Preschool


Visit the link below to join in the fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


We concluded after breakfast this morning and leave for the airport in one hour…so to sum up….

                                                              ST LUCIA

S - is for the breathtaking SCENERY and SPECTACULAR SITES – I never tired looking out the van window
T - is for the TEAM, whose spirit and cooperation was TREMENDOUSLY enjoyable - I will miss everyone

L - is for the LASTING memories, especially the LUCIANS and their warm and loving welcome and farewell – they will remain in my heart forever
U - is for the UNIQUE and different work projects we attacked with vigor – from construction to teaching to earth boxes to health clinic to care giving – what an  UNPARALLELED job we accomplished
C - is for the CHILDREN, whose lives we touched, ever so briefly, yet we know we helped to make a difference
I - is for IDEAL good days, mostly sunny, both in nature and the people we experienced – what smiles and good cheer were shared with us
A - is for the AMAZING ADVENTURE, provided for all by Global Volunteers

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Some Winding Down Thoughts

Anse La Raye - Fishing Village of about 6500

Our time is winding down too quickly and although I long for the comforts of home and family, it is indeed ‘bittersweet’ to have the end approaching.  I have some observations that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of things, but none the less, to me, they bear mentioning.  So bear with me!
·         The children, so rambunctious and squirmy – yet when they have their hair braided, they sit like angels, never moving and being ever so cooperative. 
·         There are many contrasts here – yet whether rich or poor, needy or not wanting, young or old, white or Lucian – there is a spirit which comes out of every smile, good morning and how are you today.  Everyone is very gracious, good mannered fun! and happy.
·         The frogs – I always thought frogs were daytime creatures.  But here in the jungle, in which JJ’s Paradise is surrounded, they are up all night. They do not croak, they sort of ‘tweet’ – all together – hundreds of them.  I understand they are tree frogs.  They just every once and awhile, they all stop and you think, “Thank God, it’s over for the night”; and bingo, all in unison they begin once more – in unison.  They begin at about 5 PM and it keeps up all night.  I have actually have become accustomed to their shrill tweeting.  I wonder if I will be able to sleep in quiet Arizona, where I never even hear the coyotes.
·         Rainy/Hurricane Season – I guess this is the time, but except for two or three times during the middle of the night, the rain has been short lived, it has been merely five minute showers; then it clears and the sun comes out.  Once looks for the clouds to keep it cooler.
·         Finally – Everyone refers to everyone as ‘my’ – my girl, my boy, my baby.  After a few days, one begins to feel as if everything is mine.  That’s the way I feel l now – it is all mine now and it is almost time to leave.   This is where ‘bittersweet’ enters one’s emotions. 
Yes, it will be hard to say goodbye to St Lucia,
Auntie Pillis

Where Isn't There Coke?
                                                                       We Loved the Ever So Cold Piton Beer

Not Just Another Face in the Flowers - He Makes Steel Drums
       The New Addition to the Infant School                   Mike, Global Volunteer Construction Worker

Happy Birthday Alessia!

The second week began with less trepidation and more confidence for all us.  We know where we are going with our various projects and many are well underway to completion.  Our construction project (room additions to infant school) now has a floor and one wall, while teachers in the various primary and secondary schools have given and are planning more in service lectures for teachers.  The roving caregivers continue to walk and interact with the community in need, while volunteers assigned to the health clinic continue to assist the medical staff daily. This week some of us will undertake maintenance of the Earth Boxes that were planted by previous teams.  Some seem not to be doing so well and will be attended to. Wow, it sounds like we are busy and we are.  We meet each afternoon to give progress reports and it is interesting to hear the progress we are making. 

As for me, I continue to watch and assist with the day to day interaction at both preschools.  I watch the teachers reaffirm good behavior traits for the children, from two to five.  Each day good manners, respect for one another, the importance of sharing, prayer, singing and story time is experienced by the children in a structured environment.  Sometimes, it gets a little noisy and sometimes a tear is shed, however, all children appear healthy and happy.  Some are shy; some are boisterous; while, some are pensive thinking about what they will do when they get home.  They like to watch cartoons at home and don’t know what time they go to sleep.  What they do know is the routine at the school.  They all wash hands before meals and after washroom.  This is a good health habit instilled by prior Global Volunteer teams.  We are pleased to see it is still being practiced. 

 Alessia & Mom

A fitting finale to one day was a birthday party at the Kid Step Day Care.  Alessia is five years old and what a party she had.  Her father came with a boom box and computer for our music.  Her mother brought orange punch, cheeto puffs, tortilla chips, cake and ice cream.  There was singing, dancing and of course playing.  It was a grand party.  Happy Birthday Alessia!

Tomorrow will come soon,
Auntie Pillis
Of Course There Was Ice Cream & Some of the Gang

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

After the Weekend - It's Back to the Children

The weekend is past and everyone scattered to various destinations.  Some spent the night at a luxury resort; some went on a tour of the island by boat; while others toured by minivan.  I spent the morning at the market in Castries, the capital of St Lucia and went to Pigeon Island, a national park, to have lunch and go snorkeling.   The water temperature is just right and the Caribbean is crystal clear.  It was a most enjoyable day.

On Sunday, I went to mass, primarily to renew my acquaintance with my 96 y/o friend, Maria.  Once again, she was a pleasure to converse with.  The remainder of the day was spent at the pool and just chilling out. 

On Monday I serve another preschool called the Kiddies Homey Day Care Center.  It is just next door to the Kid Step Preschool, where I was last week. I was there on Friday and enjoyed it very much.  Who cannot love the children, their enthusiasm and vivacious personalities?  The teachers are delightful to spend a day with and they are loving and caring to the children.  “Love” is always the word of the day and ‘Care” is how it is done.  Last Wednesday, one of the teachers took me on a nature walk on a jungle like path and introduced me to many new plants, fruits, vegetables and of course bugs and other little critters.  I look forward to this coming week, which should be pretty much a repetition of last week, but that is fine.  I loved it.

Until tomorrow,
Auntie Pillis 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Time Just Flys By When You Are Working In Paradise

JJ's Is Truly A Home Away From Home - They Make You Welcome

And Of Course, This Is One Of The Reasons We Are Here
Our time here has been very busy and the days fly by, so, I am a bit late in posting. The very first Monday we all began our assignments and we work at a number of projects.  Some volunteers are in preschool (me); others are in primary and secondary schools.  We are also involved in a construction project, an addition to school that will include a teachers’ lounge and sick room, as well as, health clinic assignments and time with roving care givers. All in all it makes for a busy day for everyone.  Since there are 25 of us, transportation to the various sites is a tedious task for the team leaders.  We age from 17 – 80 +, with most of the group being in the 40 – 55 year old range.

I knew I found my ‘spot’ at the preschool when I looked into 42 beautiful pairs of brown eyes, almost 42 gorgeous smiles and little girls with the most artistic braids, ribbons and hairdos, I have ever seen – all dressed in red and white uniforms.  My children - now it is Wednesday and they are MINE - are divided into three groups’ tiny tots’ (aged 18 mo. – 2), ‘tweenies’ (aged 2-3) and’ ‘rising fives’ (aged 4-5).  Their school is called Kids Step and it is supported by the parents and staffed by a director and two assistants, each of whom oversee a specific group.  The building consists of a tiny courtyard, three very small classrooms, one play/sleep room (for tiny tots), bathroom and small kitchen.

We begin at 8:30 and end at 2:30.  Our days have a comfortable routine. We begin with assembly in the courtyard.  This consists of prayer, songs – some religious, some fun, ‘news’ time - this is the best!  Then there is snack time, after which we have activities, appropriate to each age group, such as coloring, reading and simple lessons.  Lunch is at noon and always prepared by one of the teachers in the kitchen.  Students bring their own snacks, but lunch is provided by school.
I do just about everything they need done – I read stories; I tell stories; I show stories; I explain stories; I teach stories – it’s a lot about stories!  They love them, but, what children don’t?  It’s a great way to their hearts.

They call me ‘Auntie Pillis’; however, I think behind my back, they must call me ‘Auntie What’, because that is the word they hear me say the most – what?  I have a difficult time with their Cajun accent and most times cannot understand what is being said.  Also, many of their names are so unfamiliar and I cannot understand even their names.  Each day, I get a little better.

More on another day,
Auntie Pillis

Sunday, July 1, 2012 Team Three Has Arrived

Well here it goes – The first recording of our time together in St Lucia.  When Warren asked me to serve as the ‘first volunteer’ to compile our journey in service, it made me feel quite special.  But then, after giving it further thought, I decided we are all exceptional and indeed very special people.  Special in the sense of the spirit and camaraderie I envision we will establish, cultivate & treasure.

But enough of my lecture on specialty and on to the task at hand.  How can I begin with Sunday, when Saturday was an extraordinary occasion in itself?  So now, just a few sentences about Saturday -after gathering in airport – most tired and weary – we, under Warren & Michelle, our team leaders’ and Ian’s superior driving skills (on the wrong side of the road), arrived at our new home for the next two weeks – JJ’s Paradise Resort.  Occasional periods of rain with scattered sunshine accompanied us on our one hour trip through the beautifully green and picturesque mountains, hills and valleys. 

 After finding our rooms, opening our suitcases and me wondering when my head was finally going to ‘hit the pillow’, we were treating to a delicious dinner of local cuisine – fish and/or chicken in a tasty sauce with carrots and broccoli – at JD’s restaurant on Marigot Bay.  Nothing could top Warren’s gracious welcome; however, the beautiful Caribbean sunset did provide some healthy competition.  Before dinner, we played the name game, in which everyone did exceptionally well – oh and did I forget to mention there are 25 of us?  All hail from the US - from east to west and north to south – and we appear to be knowledgeable, bright and articulate.  What more could St Lucia want!
After a good night’s sleep, Sunday morning came quickly.  I found out I needn’t set my alarm clock.  Before it could ring, a tsunami-like sound woke me.  It was frightening and sounded like the Caribbean Sea was at my door step.  Then DAH! I figured it was rain, very heavy pounding rain.  Being from AZ, I had forgotten how it sounds. 

We had a scrumptious breakfast of cereal, eggs and bacon, and then, we piled into vans and headed to Anse La Raye for mass at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Catholic church.  All of us had opted for the church service, which lasted two hours. Compared to the mostly 59 minute mass in the US, it was a refreshing change of pace and left many of us very impressed with the people, their harmonious choir and musical accompaniment.   It might have been a long service for some, but, just think, we:
·         heard the 14 member mostly children’s’ choir complete with piano, drum, violin and clarinet and the lovely music and hymns.  We  met many of the parishioners, who made us feel so special with their musical welcoming ‘love’ song

And for me it was extra special, because I met Maria, 96 years young, whose son Thomas was one of Father Amal Raj’s assistants.  She is so very proud of him, one of her two surviving children.  She had seven children and two died while they were very young.  This grand lady wears no glasses and reads better than I and more importantly, I think she thinks I need help.  She, gently but firmly, guided me with her firm hand on my elbow through the custom of standing, sitting and kneeling at the appropriate times during mass.  Even though I know what to do when, it was comforting to have her at my side.

After mass, members of the community, teachers and Father Amal Raj spent an hour answering our questions and sharing their community information with us.  Then we journeyed back to JJ’s, lunch and our orientation program.  Warren, together with Michelle’s capable assistance shared Global Volunteers philosophy of service; guided us through establishment of our goals; and led a discussion to define the characteristics of our team.  We then broke into small groups to discuss our various work projects – yes, finally on the meat of the matter, the reason we are here.  I will work with three others in preschool and we all agreed to take the lead from our teacher hosts. Yes, we will do want they want us to do, to the best of our talents and capabilities.  We are also blessed with reports from Team 2, the previous volunteers. This will assist us immensely.  

The final happening of the day was our dinner, a choice of pasta Bolognese or mahi mahi, followed by homemade chocolate cake, and especially prepared by Charlotte for our first night’s dinner at JJ’s.  We look forward to tomorrow with anticipation and best wishes for a successful and special day for all. 
            Are we lucky to be here?
·         Are we blessed with a talented group, who wants to accomplish the work set forth for us
·         Are we special?
My answer is a resounding YES.