This last week I finally made a connection with the school principal at the local primary school. I had called about two weeks before and they promised to get back in touch with me but that never happened, for whatever reason. As the month of September was winding to a close I was frantically putting together my CASI. I had no time to focus on the schools at that time.
When I proposed my 1 year work plan it included several projects within the local schools, so as soon as I got back from ESC (Early Service Conference) I biked down the hill to the local school. I met with the principle, who is very lovely person and has big ideas for utilizing the environment as a learning tool. I am 100% on board at this point. Sure we can plant a school garden, yes we can do a beautification project, you want me to make and post signs naming all the plants and rocks in the school grounds, you got it. Then I mentioned to her about the Lasco Reap program, which is an environmental contest through the Lasco group. Any Jamaican primary school can participate. The top prize is 10 brand new computers for the school, every school here could use upgraded technology. There is a recycling component, a tree planting component, a school garden component and a there are individual components to recognize children who participate at a larger scope. It incorporates poetry, artwork and drama into the competition. There are so many things that can be done.
As exciting as this was and the response from the principal and teachers was promising, my week only got better. I was invited back on Wednesday to participate in the Heritage Day celebration. It was fun to watch the kids play and eat local foods. The best part was the elderly blind man who came to play guitar and sing traditional folk songs with the children. To see the kids participate was truly a blessing.
I was told to come back on Tuesday the following week, sadly I was to be in Port Morant that day, but I dropped by on Wednesday. We toured the school grounds and talked about the garden, tree planting, recycling and the school beautification projects. I then asked to see the library. Sadly I knew what was coming. The books were old and mostly reference material. Not much for fun reading. So I am making it my mission to equip this school with books that kids will want to read. Unfortunately, here most kids and many adults view reading as a chore not a joy, and they certainly do not read for fun. So I have contacted many book donation places to see if they can help me. The first thing I would love to do is put some nice cushions in the corner to make reading more inviting. Why not have a cozy reading corner and I would even come in once a week to read to the younger kids.
To top off such an awesome week, meaning that things are finally starting to happen, a second primary/junior high school contacted me to help out with their environmental club. I meet with them on Monday to plan out and get them signed up for the Lasco Reap program as well. I mean come on why can’t I help two local schools become top-notch? I had also considered their potential library needs in my initial requests, so again I may be building up two schools.
So overall the last two weeks have been amazing. I look forward to the next 8 months of building on this momentum. Oh and a final note my citizens group is forming and we are moving forward to get that multi-purpose court built, it will help the local school take back their courtyard and ensure the girls have a space as well.