Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thank you to St. Lucia

As the team prepares to depart at noon, Jane read the bookmark given to her yesterday by a grateful staff at Marigot Secondary School, which we unanimously agree sums up our collective philosophy of our work on The St. Lucia Project:

"Remember us!  Do all the good you can, in all the places you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can."

Safe travels to St. Lucia Team 5 and thank you to our friends in Anse la Raye, Marigot, Millet, Coolie Town, Jacmel and Roseau. 
We'll never forget you!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Every Day is a Global Family Reunion

“Everyday is a holiday, Every meal is a Feast, Everyday with Global Volunteers feels like a family reunion.” 

What a beautiful day, full of challenges for all of us. Everybody on our team felt useful, needed, and productive.

            The Infant School volunteer reported a “good day”. She made progress working on numbers with her kindergarten children.

            The Primary School team members had fun playing “tooth fairy” for one of their children and some success with the spelling test. The children are making progress.

            The Marigot Secondary School team completed behavioral evaluations on three students. Our team member suggested asking the school to determine who can raelly benefit from Global volunteers remedial help so that the next team can focus on those children.

            The Kids' Step Preschool team went for a walk with the youngsters down to the river, reportedly to use the bathroom.

            The Kiddie’s Homey Day Care team worked with the kids on making books out of construction paper.

            The Roving Caregivers reported successful interaction with babies and their parents even in Coolie Town, the poorest area of St. Lucia.

            The Health Education team supplemented the curriculum for Third graders on disease prevention and nutrition.

            The Earth Box team reported an increased sense of neighborhood ownership for the project is spreading.

            Jorg was assigned to install pencil sharpeners for the schools and enjoyed an adventure with two local men to obtain missing screws.

            Mary Ann suggested that Global Volunteers undertake a long-range study of the impact of early childhood education on later success in school, comparable to studies in the U.S. on the effects of Head Start on later academic success.

            Michele unwillingly drop-kicked her room key into a gap at pool-side (where our team meetings are held) and it disappeared into the 5th dimension. When the key returns from its adventure will only be known tomorrow.

            Our delightful dinner guest, Mary Louise Reeves, who works with the Earth Box team, discussed insect and fungal threats to the banana crop on St. Lucia.

            All in all, a successful and fulfilling day.
- Ruthanne

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Focusing on the Little Joys of Life

Vicky examines a baby at the RCP Center
“The universe is a place of abundance when you nurture others while also caring for yourself. Your ability to give and receive multiplies exponentially.”  Christine Northrup M.D.

I wake each morning to the sounds of the ceiling fan whirling, doves calling and birds singing. The vibration and chirping of Jane’s cell phone alarm is my signal to get out of bed and start the day.

            ‘Where’s the coffee’, ‘how do they get these hard boiled eggs so hot’, ‘pass the toast’, ‘are there any more scrambled eggs and sausages’ are the sounds of breakfast. Thoughts of the day and journal reading offer us all inspiration.

            Crying, babbling, first words, repeating animal sounds, laughing and the beautiful singing voices of the Roaming Caregivers singing ‘hello, hello and how are you today’ are the sounds of our home visits. Words of encouragement and praise are given to each mom as we leave the home.

            Frustrations, accomplishments, hopes and dreams for the people of St. Lucia are all expressed during our evening meeting. “Let me ask you, did you have a good day” is Warren’s way of clarifying how each one of us is feeling.
            ‘Raise your hand if you ordered the coconut shrimp’, ‘please pass the bread’, ‘where’s the pepper’ are familiar phrases during dinner. Michele’s infectious laugh, sharing ieas with each other and Kimmy’s shriek when the bat tried to land on her shoulder are added bonuses during the meal. Multitudes of frogs chirping and occasionally the pitter-patter of raindrops which often turn into pounding on our metal roof are the last sounds we hear before falling asleep.
- Vicky

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Week's Review

Jaimie giving one-on-one attention to primary students
          I can already say that my time here has been more than what I had expected. I am very pleased to be here and happy I went with Global Volunteers. Although I am extremely burnt today, I am happy I experienced the heated sun that the St. Lucian’s experience daily.

            We all received a bigger grasp and understanding of the culture by roaming the streets and swimming in the ocean water this weekend. As I am sure we all have so much to share about the fun we had, I’d like to focus my journal on our purpose here in Anse La Raye.  I will be sharing the first week overview and accomplishments of each volunteer group. I’d like to begin with the Earth Box group. The Earth Box is an instrument to a bigger picture of self reliance, entrepreneurism, opportunity, and community spirit.  Mrs. Reed and Mrs. Dujon have the potential to gain sustainable Earth Boxs. Their "Ts" have been crossed and have been put in place.

            Onto the Pre-School where Kimmy acts as a pilot giving airplane rides. One of her major accomplishments has been identifying colors. One student didn’t know any colors when she initially started working at the school. In only five days the student is now able to identify three different colors.

            Although the ride has been rough, we praise Kathy as she has stayed focused and patient working at the Infant School (K-2). She is excited to see what positive impact she has made already when she goes into school today.

            Overall, at the Primary School (3-6) where I work, the children’s behavior has dramatically changed for the better. The students now have their full trust and respect in us and want nothing more than to learn from us. Mrs. Cox, the Principal, acts as a good collaboration with us to create a vision for everyone.

            It is very sad to know that the high school students are so far behind at Marigot Secondary School, but I believe Ruthann and Jane seem to be the perfect pair to help improve their teaching processes there. From creating behavioral evaluations, and one on one tutoring there is no doubt the students are in better shape already.

            This next particular group gets the pleasure to care for all physical aspects of things for families. The care givers to them are very talented and extremely inspiring. These volunteers work with the Roman Caregivers. They networked with a group of Dominican nuns who shared their programs that could potentially be beneficial for Anse La Raye. They will soon implement these programs.

            The Health Education Clinic has been a team since the day they met Nurse Angela Antoine. They have not only adopted new friends, but have realized how much they have in common.

            Last, but not least, Kiddie Homey Day Care. Jody and Mary Ann face big challenges and obstacles like we all do. The main challenge is having such a large group of kids. Because of Global volunteers, these two participants are able to split everyone into smaller groups maintaining an effective and productive time spent.

            It is unreal to me that all I have just shared, has been accomplished in only five days. We started with spinning wheels and have now created a drive and reverse control. The next five days, and five years will hopefully bring miracles to the community.  We were able to enjoy the sun, the people, and the culture over the weekend but now the best part of our time here will be spent helping a community in need. LET’S GET TO WORK!
- Jamie

Friday, November 16, 2012

Service as Haiku

Katelyn tutors at Anse la Raye Primary School
“Barns burnt down, now I can see the moon.”
After finishing our breakfast, we got into our cars and were off to our locations for a full day's work. 
            At the Health Center, our volunteers learned a lot of interesting information. They discovered that around 60% of the population in Anse La Raye did not have running water, most homes do not have toilets and they also learned that not many families have electricity. At the Kiddies Homey Day Care, our volunteers were part of a pretty crazy chaotic and napless toddler frenzy where the biggest problem today seemed to be the lack of understanding how to take turns.
             In the Primary School, our volunteer teachers had a very hectic but productive day even though the school was with our running water again. This made is difficult for students to wash their hands, flush toilets and were also very dehydrated. An exciting thing was that the schools futbol, or soccer team won the game 6-0.
            At the Secondary School, our volunteers were asked to do some more behavioral assessments of special needs students. One volunteer discovered that the 10th grade student who tested at a preschool level was being given materials that were extremely challenging for her and beyond her mental capacity.
            The preschool students were well -ehaved. but have trouble identifying colors and needed sharpened colored pencils.
            Michele and four volunteers went to the parish center to set up a SPA DAY for caregivers and the parents until the evening meeting with the Global Volunteer group.
            We had great conversations and reflective discussions about everyone's day. We proceeded to JD’S for dinner made by a gracious staff and after stuffing ourselves. we headed to bed to rest up for another day.
            All over our team had an amazing, rewarding day and we are looking forward to tomorrow and discovering what other obstacles we can help St. Lucia overcome. With much anticipation for our weekend to explore the island and reward ourselves with a little fun, we met with JJ’s manager and were informed about some activities or tours that were available for us to participate in the next two days. Those activities included a town fish fry boat excursion, and bus tours along with a few others. This allows us to explore other towns throughout St. Lucia.
- Katelyn

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two Weeks of Loving Kindness

Kimmy at Kids' Step Preschool
I began another action-packed day at the Kids' Step Preschool. We started by saying a prayer and singing songs, including my personal personal favourite, the Barney theme song, since they all get up and give each other huge hugs and kisses. I then got to read them a book that contains all the classic nursing nursery rhymes that Vicky kindly let me borrow.

They were cheering for me to repeat the tongue twister over and over again, of course.

It was time for a snack not long after, which is an opportunity for them to socialize and for the teachers and I to promote acts of kindness and etiquette. (i.e. sharing, saying please and thank you).  A great example of this is a 4-year-old boy by the name of JeanPaul who offered his whole snack to another child who finished his food before all the others because he was so hungry.

After an hour or so of bingo and teaching some small motor skills, I helped the teachers feed the children and put them down for a nap.

It was finally time for me to eat and this is when Joanie, Sue and Peggy visited me just in time for me to join then for lunch.  They gave me a tour of the health clinic and we visited the markets before I made my way back to the preschool to wake up the kids.

This is when I continued tutoring a couple of the 4-year-olds that are going on to kindergarten next year. They needed alot of individual attention since they do not receive any help at home and still have not grasped the concepts of colours, shapes or the alphabet.

With a lot of positive reinforcement and encouragement, I've successfully managed to teach them three colours and two letters on the alphabet. This is why for the past few days, I've been worried about what is going to happen once the volunteers are gone. This is when I remembered the conversation I had with Jodie that same morning. She told me something along the lines of,
"I just see it as giving them love for two weeks..and it's bound to make a difference."
Which then led me to be reminded of one of my favourite quotes by Mother Theresa:

"A drop in the ocean may be small but the ripples are endless."

So, I am determined to create as many ripples as I can by giving them the love they need for the short time I get to be in their lives.
- Kimmy

"I learned so much today!"

“Service to others is the price we pay for the space we occupy.” Mother Theresa

            On most of my other Global Volunteers terms, I’ve worked with students alone or with one other adult, having little opportunity other than our daily meeting to learn what my other teammates were accomplishing.

            Today, with two other enthusiastic members of the Earth Box team, I was fortunate to again visit several sites, seeing other volunteers at their work. First, we lingered at the Primary School to further examine the 39 Earth Boxes there, where we were rained out yesterday. Important, quick decisions were made: the boxes will be moved to other sites with better security and better buy-in from the stakeholders who will be reaping the benefits.

            The honest, heartfelt communication is a direct result of groundwork carefully laid by Global Volunteers leadership; emphasizing that (a) this is your project, (b) the decision is yours, (c) how can we help?

            At the Primary School, we observed how the situation was improved from Day 1: the principal was back; materials are provided, and students needing small-group help are more clearly identified. I personally was impressed by the order and patience displayed by each of the four team members there.

            Our Earth Box team was less overwhelmed and more focused today as well. With most assessment completed, we and our community partners were eager to be “hands-on” and to see a concrete product.

            Today we literally got down to the bottom of the boxes, checking out how they are assembled and planted. We all had fun playing in the dirt. Our team’s most important victory today was commitment from two community leaders who can recruit others. Yesterday, Miss Mary Louise Reid was skeptical, but curious. Yesterday Miss Catherine Griffith returned from a four-month leave of absence and made time for us in her busy day today- thanks to Miss Reid, a force of nature, who now embraces this technology.

            Finally, enthusiastic heart-felt reports at our end of the day meeting suggest that most of us had successful, productive days and are settling in to the many challenging tasks at hand. Just in case we finish them all ahead of schedule, our dinners generate requested help to meet the needs of another part of this amazing community.
- Barbara

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

These Children are Our Future

Message of the Day - Peg
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” - Martin Luther King

Jody cares for babies at Kiddie's Homey Daycare

            Our day began with anticipation and some anxiety as to what we were going to experience on our assignment. Michele reassured us that we would be just fine as long as we were flexible. The children at the schools were all lined up outside of the infant school and recited their prayers, their national anthem and school songs. They were supposed to keep their eyes facing the teacher at all times but it was difficult for them as they so needed to sneak a peak at their visitors (GV’s). We then dropped off Kimmy at the pre-school.  Mary Ann and Jody were then taken to the kids homey Day Care Center. They were greeted by Ruth, the director, and her staff. There are eighteen 3-4 year olds and nine children between three months and two years old.

            During nap time, we (Mary Ann and I) went to lunch as I took the plastic bags out of the refrigerator; wondering what in the world Mary Ann had in her lunch as her bag was bulging and three times the size as mine. So low and behold, she opened hers and found a whole raw chicken. We figured something was missing in the kitchen! After going back to the kitchen, we ended up finding her actual lunch with the sandwich.

            After nap time, (the children's) Mary Ann stayed with the older children as I  went to play with the toddlers. Our evening meeting consisted of a description of everyone's  day. There was a common theme of fascinating, wonderful, interesting experiences, and didn’t know what to expect. For the most part, everyone had a GOOD DAY. Dinner at Julietta’s was FANTASTIC and we all enjoyed sharing Drew’s birthday cake!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our First Day in St. Lucia

Message of the Day - Patrick

"The goals are different, one from another, as from one source spring sister & brother: The end of treading a lifetime journey. Is bed or wheelchair, grave or gurney, But to the one who dares to travel come views of sky and self.... and gravel." - Thomas Quadrat

Kathleen and Vicky review resource materials for the Roving Caregivers Program with caregiver Chanelle.
Day One

            We hit the ground running after arriving the evening of November 10th into St. Lucia. Our initial day for our two-week Global Volunteer Service Program was a full day of orientation activities beginning with a wonderful breakfast at Ben's Hideaway. As we enjoyed our early breakfast, Michele provided welcoming introductory remarks. As is the tradition for Global Volunteers, each team member introduced themselves with a brief background intro followed by a memory activity to challenge one’s short-term capability to retain names. Emphasis on safety, precautions and concerns expressed by various team members were reviewed. Michele and Warren proceeded to cover the philosophy of service for Global Volunteers.  They also went over the twelve essential service’s for the St. Lucia Program. We were introduced to JJ’s Paradise Hotel which included; Sue (Manager), Kedoshia Emmanuel, and Tasia who are all kitchen/ server staff and Charlotte Felix, proprietor of the restaurant. 

            We traveled to Anse La Raye to integrate into the community for Church service/  self-exploration of the town. We met with the primary community leaders and support personnel from the Anse La Raye area with whom we would be working during our two weeks stationed. We then returned to JJ’s for lunch and the remaining parts of orientation.

            During our afternoon orientation session, further team-building activities were continued. Everyone participated in developing the list of fifteen characteristics of and effective team, selecting punctuality, respect, flexibility, motivation and cooperation as the five stand-out qualities. Michele emphasized the need for all to express any concerns which they were experiencing, as soon as possible. We then proceeded to develop team goals, discuss assignments, and review advice from the previous teams. Each group them divided to discuss their assignments with fellow colleagues. The final volunteer to arrive, Barbara C., was introduced to all by Michele.

            Our day concluded with a wonderful evening meal and further getting to know one another. We adjourned for the evening to rest so we could fully engage in our first full day, revitalized!
- Kathleen