"Every Little Thing's Gonna Be All Right"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hello from Jamaica! Specifically from the beautiful southern coast, and our base at Camp Hope in Westmoreland parish, where twenty-one Ursinus College students and two Ursinus advisors, six Moravian College students, four Moravian College guests, and Chaplain Hopeton Clennon are off to a great start on our spring break service trip.

We arrived in Montego Bay yesterday, Sunday, March 6, and today we dove into our varied service projects. At King's Elementary School near Whitehouse, a group of us worked to mix concrete and begin building a concrete-and-cinder-block garbage unit; the foundation was finished by day's end, when we all gathered to help--but mostly to socialize with the wonderful King's Elementary schoolchildren as they waited for their buses and other rides home from school. We watched a group of boys in their crisp khaki uniforms playing cricket with an old wooden paddle and a tennis ball, and chatted with the friendly girls in their white blouses and blue jumpers.

Earlier in the day, one group worked to demolish and rebuild a kitchen out of wood at a home in Beeston Spring. Another worked on building a wood floor and additional room at a home in Left Hall, north of Beeston Spring. And the largest group put a fresh coat of bright, creamy yellow paint on the Clifton Boys' Home in Darliston. We were helped here by a few of the boys who were home from school today. At all the sites, we were helped and guided by experienced local builders and workers.

Camp Hope is beautiful, and for two evenings now we've watched the sun set over the placid blue Caribbean Sea, right outside the doors of our dormitory. And we've enjoyed delicious meals prepared by Nellie and her fine kitchen crew.

Temperatures are in the 80s during the day. Both days we've had nice, cooling rains in the late afternoon or evening; these blow over quickly, and the beautiful sun returns. Our drive here from Montego Bay took us through lush green forests over winding mountain roads. We are getting to see parts of Jamaica that tourists who blow in and out of the island's resorts miss completely.

We're also becoming good friends. This is a wonderful group of students, staff, and friends--cheerful, welcoming, hard-working, generous, kind.

And we've been transported from place to place by the marvelous bus driver Junior, who plays Bob Marley, croons Harry Belafonte tunes, and sings raps of his own creation for us. Life is good here in this tropical paradise!

--Joyce Hinnefeld