Volunteer Project ‘Ashanti 08/2010’

The first Project I did for HELP Jamaica! in Cassava Piece (the ‘Things to smile about in Cassava Piece project’) – was all about the children’s perspective – they should express, report and present, what they like about their community and what makes it unique to them …

The second, additional project now was planned with some dedicated and active community members who have a special talent or skill and were interested and willing to share their experience and skills with the children and youths of Cassava Piece.

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The aim of the project was to give the youths an insight look and knowledge about different job options and thereby, to inspire them to think optimistic about their own job opportunities and future, as well as provide ideas and games to have fun and be creative same way during their summer holidays.

To convey the thought that education can and should be fun, the whole project was made up as a ‘community race’, in which the children had to follow signs on the ground to find their way to the different educational stations, which came along with a lot of small games, riddle, competitions and questions on the way.

For example:

· As an introduction the children were asked to act out and express (without words/pantomime) what they want to become or work as in the future… and we saw a lot of little soldiers, DJ´s , artists, dancers, police men and some nurses and teachers perform …

· Tobian and Anni, two talented artists/painters set up a small exhibition of their paintings on the neighboring schoolground, taught the kids some basic information about art and showed different painting techniques and styles and then assisted the children in making their own experiences with brushes, coloring and canvas.

Everybody who saw the picture was not only very impressed that this wonderful artwork was made by the youths but also that there is so much creative potential in them… and they were encouraged by a lot of people during the day – not to waste their talent!

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· At Lunchtime they ended up at ‘Coggys’ cook shop, where the children could help to prepare the chicken and rice which they would later enjoy together. Within the save & friendly atmosphere of the cook shop and surrounded by elders who showed an interest for them, the children seemed to feel very comfortable. It was a joy to see how the kids talked and discussed with the elders of the community and how the elders shared knowledge and tried to motivate and encourage the children.

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· On a next stop during the ‘race’ Papa, a professional landscaper made the kids know what he loves about working with plants and flowers and what they need to grow (a nutritious surrounding, water, sun and love) The kids then got own small flowerpots, and filtered sand from the compound and planted their own pepper, callaloo and tomatoes to take them home and grow them in their own yards…

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It turned out that the children really enjoyed the different experiences and the positive attention they got during the day and a lot of times i was told that they can`t wait for the education center to open its doors. From the initial 13 children that started the community race in the morning the group grew to around 40 children and youths in an age group of 5 – 15 years during the day, which fortunately was a joy and not a problem to the „teachers of the day“.

I am very glad and thankful to see once more, that our projects and ideas are well accepted and supported within the community of Cassava Piece as a lot of people didn`t hesitate to offer their help and volunteer work to make this ‘Skills and talents’ project happen.

Text and photos by: Ashanthi (Volunteer)

We would like to use the opportunity and give special thanks to:

Anni and Tobi – the Painters/Artists
Coggy – Cook shop owner
Muttar – Story teller (reader)
Papa – Landscaper
Whitney – Polsterer
Joy – Hairdresser and Beautician
Curk – Artist/Paperflowers
C.S.P.J.H. School – for using their school yard
Marc – support
Carper – network
Kevin – organisation