Sunday, November 10, 2013

November Program Begins

It was a long, productive day!

It began with an 8:00 a.m. breakfast at Ben’s Hideaway.  A hearty start to the day with bacon, eggs, and toast was provided, as was an ample amount of coffee to knock us out of our recent-arrival stupor. 

After breakfast Warren ran a group of seven or so to the local bank for their first taste of EC, the local currency.  Then it was off to Anse La Raye and 10:00 mass at the Catholic Church. 

The drive down the Main Street of town was eye-opening.  It became immediately apparent, at least to me, that this town is not in good shape.   Modest structures in various states of disrepair dominated the scene.  It appeared as though the town had frozen in time several decades earlier and that little attempt to rehabilitate it has been made. 

The church, however, appeared to be well maintained; both its grounds and sanctuary.  When we arrived, just a few minutes before 10:00 a.m., attendance in the church was light.  Mass did not begin for about fifteen minutes more and by that time the place was almost full.  And mass was a rousing experience. 

The music and singing that was incorporated in the mass was much more than I recall from my Catholic days back in the 1970’s.  The rhythmic swaying of the choir and the congregation as they sang gave the experience a truly Caribbean feel.  This would have been frowned upon in the church of my youth.  The service wrapped up with a heartfelt song from the entire congregation singing to we Volunteers and telling us how loved we are.  Warren also expressed our gratitude to the congregation for our being invited to their community. 

Mass was followed with a brief meeting with some of the community members we will work with.  Principals from the primary and secondary school welcomed us, as did the director of the visiting mothers program and the community liason who works with the team on the earth box program.  Father Raj also expressed a warm welcome to the team. 

After a short drive back down the main street and the street that adjoins the beach, we returned to lunch at Ben’s Hideaway.  Lunch include our first taste of the “ground provisions” starches that make up such a large part of the local diet – plantain, green banana, sweet potato, breadfruit, and yam.  We now understand the belly-filling quality of these foods.

Warren then gathered us in the pavilion for our orientation meeting.  We discussed Global Volunteers' Philosophy, listed the goals we hope to achieve during our service program, and the characteristics of an effective team.  All but two of us had been through this before; it was my 16th time.  But I continue to realize the importance of this procedure as an effective way to prepare us for the work ahead. 

Warren also briefed us on the various institutions we would be serving, most dealing with childcare and education.  In addition, Warren and two volunteers will take on the Earth Box project and prepare the town for the imminent arrival of another 100 of them. 

The day drew close to an end with dinner back at Ben’s Hideaway.  Although it was just a few hours since we feasted on the belly-filling ground provisions

Our last task was ordering lunches and making our choice for tomorrow’s dinner.  After a lively discussion of the logistics and proper script for completing the order form, Barbara seemed satisfied with the final result.  Let’s hope the kitchen staff feels likewise.
, no one had trouble in downing their grilled chicken, local pork stew, or plate of vegetarian delights.  The garlic toast was a nice touch. 

- Keith Kresge

Message of the Day – Tuesday November 11, 2013

“Any serious attempt to do something worthwhile is ritualistic.” 
- Derek Wolcott, St. Lucian Nobel Prize Winner