Every day we were met with a new experience in Jamaica through the Jamaica Volunteer Program. Our host, the Evans family, was extremely gracious to drive our group all across Jamaica to volunteer and experience the local culture. They answered all of our questions, met our every need, and ensured that we were completely immersed into the culture. We could not have asked for more!
Our first volunteer experience was at the Manning's Hill Primary School. Our team helped tutor first, second, and third graders there and assisted with after-school activities. We learned much about the Jamaican school system and were able to interact with Jamaican children, exchanging bits and pieces of our culture with one another. The experience was exactly what our group was hoping to have.
After volunteering at the primary school, our team traveled to the SOS Children Home in St. Andrew. There we interacted with the energetic and sweet children who lived there. The following week we visited another orphanage run by the Salvation Army in St. Andrew. Our team assisted the site in cleaning and reorganizing their library while also sharing in fun activities with the children.
Throughout our entire two-week stay, we were greeted with a delicious breakfast prepared for us before we left for the volunteer site. The food consisted of ingredients grown locally and the dishes were all traditional Jamaican foods-- allowing our team to experience real Jamaican cuisine. After breakfast, the Evans family kindly ensured that we arrived at our work site safely and on time. Our team then worked at the site for much of the day until we were driven back to Smokey Manor for a delicious, home-cooked meal. One night we were even able to cook with the Evans family and prepare a Jamaican meal on our own. It was quite a treat for us and we thoroughly enjoyed cooking and eating a traditional Jamaican meal.
Our team was able to experience a wide variety of sites and activities during our stay. The Evans family ensured us that we would experience the real Jamaica-- and we definitely did! Learning about the Maroons, climbing Dunn's River Falls, and spending a day at Hellshire Beach were just a few of the exciting activities and sites our team was able to participate in.
From the moment we stepped down in Jamaica, the Evans family was extremely kind, warm, and welcoming to our team. We shared laughs and exchanged information regarding our respective countries and cultures, giving our group a better understanding of the people and country that we were visiting. We were even able to take a walk with Maureen, the founder of the Jamaica Volunteer Program, and tour the neighborhood-- learning much about the neighborhood and surrounding cities. Furthermore, her two sons who still live in Jamaica freely answered all of our questions and were eager to serve our group in every way. It was quite a pleasure and privilege to get to know them both.
Our group was extremely satisfied with our experience through the Jamaica Volunteer Program and would recommend the program to anyone interested in volunteering or participating in service learning in Jamaica. The program is very flexible and creative in their approach--ensuring an experience that will surely satisfy your desire to experience the real Jamaica. We could not have asked for a better experience and are sad to leave!