Greetings bredren and sistren!
Whatagwan in mi life? NUFF TINGS, I’ve been so busy!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky to come into contact with a couple of really great organizations. Trees That Feed Foundation (TTFF) is a US-based non-profit that operates primarily in Jamaica and Haiti. They aim to “feed people, create jobs and benefit the environment” through the planting of fruit bearing trees (mostly breadfruit). They have also been working to create a market for breadfruit flour, which sounds awesome!
Breadfruit is most often eaten roasted and was originally fed to the large slave population in Jamaica. It’s got a dense, almost dry texture and is admittedly a very bready staple.
Recently TTFF, along with Rotary International members from the US, Canada and Pakistan visited 50 schools in Jamaica, including mine, to plant breadfruit trees. It was quite the ordeal! True to Jamaican style, we hosted a welcoming ceremony that included a student performance of an original song written by one of our teachers (“plant the mango, plant the ackee, plant the apple treeeee!”).
The visitors and the students were equally fascinated by each other. They left behind a Canadian maple leaf baseball cap so that we could designate a “tree helper” to look after the new sapling each week. It’s got its own chicken wire box so that the goats don’t get to it. And yes, I still find it hilarious that that’s a legitimate concern, but like many rural Jamaican schools, we do not have perimeter fencing.
Thanks to a fellow PCV, I was able to volunteer with the Jamaica Amateur Swimming Association (JASA) for their 007 Open Water Swim at James Bond Beach in St. Mary. The aptly named beach is a reference to Ian Flemming, who wrote several of his 007 novels while living on the Jamaican north coast.
It was a lovely day and very cool to be a spectator. Bonding was had, and I got to float around in the ocean for hours, literally. I know I’m not saying anything revolutionary here, but the ocean has such beautiful healing qualities.
We’ve passed Early Service Conference and, admittedly, I’ve passed through the “dark phase” of my service…I think. I’m slowly starting to realize and accept just how little I know about Jamaican culture, but I think I’m okay with that.
I’ve come to love and respect the US so much more during my 7 months in Jamaica, but my curiosity has been sufficiently wetted and I am excited to keep learning about this warm, funny, foreign culture.