Zerin Osman - General Care Projects in Jamaica
Why is it always so hard to decide where to start on telling you of my amazing time in Jamaica!
As I approach my halfway point I can without any doubt say that I could quite happily stay on here for a few years, no trouble at all (although I fear my family and friends might have a few things to say about that!)
My 33rd birthday was easily the best birthday I have had on the planet to date! The kids and I were on countdown mode a month before and then it was upon us! I bought two 9 inch birthday cakes to bring in for all the children and staff, made up hundreds of little gift packs to give all the kids and staff at Hanbury with Australian flag stickers, balloons, glitter, lolly pops and as many sweets as I could squeeze in! It was a stampede as soon as I got out of the car. But I wouldn't have had it any other way! I'm not sure who was more excited me or them!
The day was spent doing little to absolutely no work what so ever! Everyone was so excited! We all drew on each others faces with bright Aussie Zinc (thanks mum!), face paint, blew up balloons, party hats, stuck stickers on our faces, played games and ate rainbow iced birthday cake! The kids sang me the Jamaican version of happy birthday in the morning and the morning's Devotion or Prayer time was dedicated to me. I have to say I was almost brought to tears but just about held it together! It was SO SPECIAL!
In the evening 23 of the volunteers joined me for a trip to Treasure Beach for my birthday and upon arriving at the Restaurant later that evening I had the surprise of my life with a huge table covered with sweets, balloons, Happy Birthday Banners, hand drawn posters all decorating this gorgeous beach side restaurant. How touched was I.... I really did not expect that, especially as my family knows that I am always the one behind all the surprises normally! I honestly could not have had a better Birthday in a million years!
This last weekend we trekked up the Blue Mountains for 38 kilometres or 7 hours..! I am still suffering and gave a new meaning to the term "walking like John Wayne'! Yes you heard it correctly! We got up at 2am, after only managing to snatch about 2-3 hours sleep, to trek up (and I mean up in pitch black darkness) the mountains to see the sunrise and hopefully Cuba.
Unfortunately it was too cloudy to see Cuba and upon arriving at the top the tour guide informed us that of all the times he had done the trip he had only seen Cuba 5 times. Yes, thanks for that! But even so the effort was so worthwhile. It was breath taking to be at the same height as the clouds watching the sensational sunrise and most definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that you would not find me missing out on!
The food is incredible out here and if you didn't return home a little heavier than you left, you would certainly not be living like a true Jamaican! My favourite dish so far is salt fish and ackee which is the Jamaican National Fruit. The only way to describe what this fruit looks like is that it is white and that it was definitely scrambled in a previous life!
Daily life for the kids is spent at school (at Hanbury) from 9 - 2:30pm then they are free to run around the home until bedtime. They go to church on the weekends and other than that again their time is spent at Hanbury Home. Being at the orphanage now for over a month it still shocks me how these kids actually get by with what they have and the way they have to live. As much as you prepare yourself mentally for the conditions, until you get here and experience it for yourself you cannot even come close to imagining what it is truly like.
The children are here for various reasons and in the six weeks I have been here now we have welcomed three lovely new arrivals to my class. The reasons behind why the kids are here are assorted. One or both of the children's parents have died, some families can simply not afford any more or any children at all and some are taken from their homes due to various types of abuse. Despite seeing all this and so much more, I think it’s important to concentrate on the positive otherwise I do not think it would be possible to continue doing the job I am doing!
The kids are always so grateful for what they have and feel blessed to be here at the orphanage. It makes me want to spend every cent I have on clothing them, feeding them and educating them but as this is truly an unrealistic goal for one little person such as myself, I'm giving them the second best thing I can as much of my physical and emotional strength as is possible for me to give!
I stay on most days an hour and half over what I am meant to be working but I cannot leave these kids, they are something else! I am frightened that with each and every day I will grow even more attached than I already am to these truly spectacular little Jamaicans. I’m worried that when the time comes I will seriously not be able to leave them!
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.