We had our first large snowfall in Hammond, WI, the other day. Only three inches were forecast but by the time it stopped snowing (about 24 hours later) we had about one foot. I had to dig myself out of the house to reach the driveway and then found that the snow plow had deposited an additional two feet of snow and ice at the end of the drive.
I am in Hagley Gap for another visit to our programs. Besides the fact that it is nice to see a little warm sun in the midst of winter, it is also nice to have a welcome respite from the seemingly eternal US election campaigns. I realize that Jamaica is a tiny country when compared to the USA but they managed to elect a new leader and parliament and select a new cabinet in less than thirty days. We take two years to do the same thing.
Fun Camp started out a little chaotic as this year’s leader had to drop out at the last minute but Tessa stepped in and worked with Zadie and me to bring it all together. Some you know Tessa Anderson from the patois classes he runs for Service Learning Volunteers. His background as a teacher at Minto Primary School (he is also taking university level teaching classes in Kingston), his knowledge of Hagley Gap, and his natural leadership abilities made him an excellent candidate for Fun Camp Leader.
The Blue Mountain Project has achieved so much over the past year. Our water program started from nothing but the desire and demand from the Hagley Gap community for clean safe, fresh water. Now we know what we need in terms of clean water and how to get it. We just lack the money. Our health clinics are working 4 days a week instead of 2. We are restarting the After School Program in Hagley Gap.
There are a few changes that you have to make during a visit to Hagley Gap. Most circle around the slower pace of life. This impacts everything from the early rising (yes, the local roosters do not seem to know when the sun rises as they start crowing at 3 am and you can hear one going off at 4pm) to the way you move up the hills.
Sunday is Mother’s Day, when we take time to thank our mothers for bringing us into this world and guiding us along the path of life, making us who we are. I would also like to thank mothers like mine who help carry laden suitcases to the airport and see their children off to far corners of the world. I know they are proud of us as we leave home to help others who are not as fortunate in Jamaica, the Congo... They raised us to put others first, to care, and to believe that we can make a difference. But that last “Call when you get there” is evidence of their fear and worry. They would be happier if we chose to help closer to home but they also raised us to make our own choices. So they will let us go, confident that we can handle whatever is thrown our way and that we will come back stronger.
Personally, I think that Mr. Bouazizi should receive the Nobel Peace Prize (he will not though, the Nobel Prize committee cannot award prizes posthumously). His action of protest, while self-destructive, forcefully yet peacefully called the world’s attention to the plight of his fellow citizens. His death inspired fellow Tunisians to take to the streets and push their corrupt ruler out of power.
Just spent a delightful two weeks in Hagley Gap working with Zadie, our new Program Manager, and gaining new energies to meet the challenges of the new year: finding funding to build the water system that Gwion, our Water Ambassador, has been designing; working with all the new Service Learning groups that Haley has brought on board; choosing and mentoring new LIGHTs; planning for 2011 Fun Camp; ... The list, as always with a growing organization like BMP, is never ending but always exciting as new doors open up for us.