Friday, June 3, 2016


June 3, 2016 - 9:28 PM - Day 7 Complete   The feeling is surreal. My emotions are running wild as a mixture of happiness, joy, sorrow, love, and peace. This group has come so far and has been able to acocmplish so much with what we were given. Yesterday and today, we went to Churchill Primary School in Negril, with the primary tasks being to help construct the roof of a lunch gazebo outside and to paint the school walls. This may seem like tasks that may be fairly straightforward, but the resources in Jamaica are unbelievably limited. Kaye (our program instructor) took at least one trip to a local hardware store every day at work. We often run out of paint, need a blade for a saw, then the saw stops working so we needed a new saw, and so on and so forth. While constructing the gazebo, the roof frame was built using wood , but these large blocks of wood were not pre-cut. They were raised to one of the laborers on the roof (I worked with Shevon, a total baller), who would mark the wood, throw it down, and Ryan Cole and I would cut it. This was done with a classic handsaw, slightly rusted, very flimsy. It was a great workout! But this is just a small example of the limited resources. The structure was covered with pleated sheets of zinc for roofing. With no electric saw the first day, the worker Paul tried to use these huge shears that simply were ineffective. The solution that was settled upon was to take a machete and hammer it with a block of wood through this thick metal sheet, not able to cut the perfect lines we can do with electric tools. This problem was avoided the second day (today) after Kaye kindly purchased a new electric saw, but even that resulted in fragmented sheet metal being sprayed at the legs of the workers cutting them. Towards the end of the work day, we left clothes and shoes for the workers, and I personally gave my work sneakers to Shevon. They were pretty beat up and dirty after the week, but this is like gold for him, and he was very thankful for them. We gave him a bucket hat as well to protect his face from the sweltering sun, and one could just see his happiness from having had us there. Additionally, he played with all the kids and ran and jumped during lunch break with us, showing how he truly enjoys life and whatever comes his way. He is not an exception, but a great example of Jamaican happiness and positivity. The children also are very resourceful, using a soccer ball for soccer, American football, basketball (on a hoop without a backboard mind you), and using whatever space to play as they can. They have little to begin with, and have been amazed with simple things like balloons and inflatable balls, objects they do not regularly get the chance to play with. They love us being there and really are so thankful. The smiles that are brought to their faces say it all, and God I wish I can do more work like this. As for our group, I mentioned in my previous post that they were all stars. But they are more than that, they are superstars. Every single one has something special about them, and together everyone is truly inspirational. They all ignite the fire and passion within me and each other. They are the reasons we have done great work, the reason I have been able to push forward. We have had many laughs, smiles, and I have never been around a more supportive group of people. At the end of the day, we ignited a flame and lit lanterns to send a wish to the sky. I sent mine up with Andrew, our group leader, my good friend from freshman year, and most of all, the dad of our group! He pushed us, did dirty work on this trip, and was an inspiration for all. The night ended with an ignition of a bonfire and we celebrated our last night in Jamaica. Many tears were shed, and we all truly are a family. This group has been the greatest to work in, and when we go back home, our work are not done. we have to take our experiences and use them to ignite a flame in our peers back home to do similar work! -Angelo Popper

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