Amy Marshall - General Care Projects in Jamaica
My name is Amy Marshall and I am in my first year of university studying Social Work in Manchester, England. I had been interested in doing volunteer work before but never found the right place, then I found Projects Abroad. Projects Abroad had a careers fair at the college I was at. Immediately I decided this was the ideal time to go and it was even more important to me that the voluntary work was abroad as it also gave me a chance to become more independent.
I decided to go to Jamaica as my dad is from Jamaica and I had been once before. That experience did not count for anything. I was kept up-to-date with everything in the lead up to my time away. I had my own’ My Projects Abroad’ home page which I checked regularly and also had every single bit of information I would of ever needed. Even contact email for my host family and the Projects Abroad staff team in Jamaica.
On the afternoon of Monday 2nd August 2010 I started my journey from London Gatwick airport. I arrived in Kingston in mid-afternoon local time. I was very nervous when I arrived and I couldn’t see the person I was meeting to take me to Mandeville! I had a contact number so a local man lent me his phone and helped me find the driver to take me to my host family. The drive took around 2 hours and then I arrived with my host family, the first thing my host mother did was show me around, the house was huge and the room I was in looked amazing, I felt at home right away.
My host family were very nice; there was Mr Dawkins, Mrs Dawkins and Mrs Dawkins’ sister. I was woken up to a different breakfast everyday to make sure I tried every Jamaican cuisine! I always received a packed lunch and dinner was always cooked when I wanted. They also had an internet connection and I was always welcome to use this. I had a curfew of 10.30pm on weekdays and every Tuesday all the volunteers met up to go to the local cinema. Additionally on a Thursday volunteers went to the local bar called upper level to speak to local people and play pool.
On my second day in Jamaica I was taken to be shown around Mandeville and be shown where I would work and be shown public transport. My placement was at Windsor Lodge Children’s Home. I was taken on my first day there and was amazed by the amount of children and how lively they were! I was shown the baby room and then the older children, knowing that the next month of my life would be spent with these children just made me so happy that I might be able to make a difference to them.
The next day I started work in the older children’s side of the orphanage, they were so friendly and energetic. There was never a dull moment in the orphanage! After a few days I was asked to work in ‘babyland’ this mostly involved playing and helping with some chores. I never wanted to leave, I worked from 8am until 1pm but often stayed longer!
The Projects Abroad team in Jamaica were the kindest people I’ve ever met! During my time I took part in reggae dance class which was an experience! Also we had dinner and games which were the most amount of fun! And the food was amazing! The most part I enjoyed was the trip to the green grotto caves! I was the first in line until I nearly stood on the snake! The best part was going to the craft markets!
I arrived on a Monday and as soon as I met some volunteers I was invited to go on the weekend trip, this happened every week and everybody was friends! Some people went to different places each weekend but the majority went together. In the time I was in Jamaica I traveled to Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Treasure Beach, and Negril! I would have gone to more places but I ran out of time!!
The first weekend we went to Negril, we stayed at a hotel just on the beach it was extremely cheap and had amazing food! The only thing I had to get used to was the fact that most of the prices were in US dollars and we had to ask for it to be converted every time! This weekend everybody went on a boat trip, this involved seeing the sunset, snorkeling and even some jumping off Ricks café. Also we had free food and drink.
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.