Volunteer Review: Stephanie L., Care & Community in Jamaica
I spent two weeks this summer on a Care & Community High School Special in Jamaica. Along with eight other volunteers, I spent two weeks volunteering on a variety of different projects. I worked in a day care center every day and had fun and explored Jamaica on evenings and weekends. I would recommend this project to anyone; the combination was perfect!
My first impressions of Jamaica
This was my first experience of traveling alone but even before leaving the UK, I felt secure and safe. I had various phone calls with Projects Abroad to keep me organized and allow me to make contact with other volunteers and my host family. This put me at ease as it gave me the opportunity to get in contact with the people who I knew were going to be there with me.
Upon arrival in Jamaica, Projects Abroad staff accompanied me from the minute I left the airport to when I arrived at my host family. My host family were more than welcoming and I settled into my room and new home very quickly. After each day all the volunteers would meet to talk about their day and bond with one another, but the Projects Abroad staff members made this very easy by playing games that naturally brought us all together, so even then shy ones got involved!
My placement at the care center
The work itself was challenging yet rewarding and the days were long but full of exciting things to do with the children. Each day was completely different to the last which helped challenge the students but also us as volunteers. The care center was a lovely environment and I felt as though I was benefiting the area, which was one of my goals before flying to Jamaica. I found it interesting to see how the children reacted to us, some were shy but most of them were full of energy and excitement upon our arrival. Each of us taught them something new from our culture and they loved this. I think that it worked so well because our project supervisors gave us a lot of responsibility. We chose the plan and itinerary for each day, which made the project flexible to each volunteers’ talents.
Staying with a Jamaican host family
My host family was also a place where I felt safe and comfortable. Five other girls also stayed here and we were split into two rooms. The house was lovely and meals were very Jamaican but also had typical western meals in case we did not like the local food. One thing I was worried about was food as I’m a fussy eater, but there were multiple options of foods to choose from and shops we could go to each day. Both my host parents made it clear to us at the beginning of the trip that if we didn't feel comfortable with anything then we could speak to them and they would do their best to fix the problem.
Throughout my whole two weeks there, I experienced no problems whatsoever. We had a schedule for washing up and cleaning our room every morning and evening, but our host parents also left us to our own space at times, which I felt was needed after a busy day. I couldn't have asked for a nicer host family and nicer girls to stay with!
Why I decided to volunteer in Jamaica
I really wanted to gain some experience, help other children, and make a difference, which I feel like my Care & Community Project helped me accomplish. Jamaica is a wonderful place that we got to explore on the weekends, visiting waterfalls, beaches, and local markets. As Jamaica is a place I've never been to before, this was a fascinating experience for me.
Leaving Jamaica – back to reality!
I loved every moment of my trip; all the Projects Abroad staff members were so funny and welcoming, making you feel at home from the start! My host family were generous, giving, and kind people who clearly loved hosting volunteers and meeting new people. I made friends for life who I still keep in contact with now and this is why it was so difficult to leave. Not only would I do something like this again but also I would definitely recommend Projects Abroad as the volunteering company to go with! The organization of the company and their kindness definitely makes them a unique company.
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.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.