Breakfast consisted of pancakes, guava jelly, corn porridge and fresh oranges. All was very good. This is the day we are schedule to go assist at Chester Primary School, a rural school in the area.
The children were beyond precious but I was shocked at how little the school had and how small their structure was. I wasn't expecting much, but still wasn't prepared for what I saw or experienced.
The teacher was amazing and the principal and kitchen staff were so kind. The children were polite and SUPER excited to have us there; especially the males. Someone had told us that over 85% of the Jamaican families consisted of single mothers so male involvement was way out of the ordinary and the kids lovingly took advantage of the situation.
We discovered that those working at the school rarely receive their full salary because the families simply aren't able to pay the tuition (the gov't requires school taxes along w/a tuition-based public school system; gov't keeps the taxes and the schools rely on the tuition.) I was amazed to learn that the teacher's monthly salary would equal $500.00 American money & that would be considered living well. I am hoping to get my school involved in "adopting" this school and sending over simple teaching supplies and special items like new crayons, play dough, etc.
We assisted the teacher with "field-day" games and races and presented the kids with their 'goody bags' and the school with some playground balls. The kids were so excited about their new toys and were beyond precious in showing off their new items. I was amazed at how something so little could mean so much.
We returned to camp for a lunch of some sort of stuffed taco-like bread pocket. We, then, went on our fun-day trip to Dunn's River Falls. The Park was more commercialized than I had expected but was beautiful. I tend to take things too deeply into my heart and had a hard time fully enjoying this opportunity b/c of thinking of what the school could've done with the $15.oo admission fee. Due to my shoulder, I chose to not climb the falls but enjoyed the beachfront and time to simply rest and relax.
After the falls, we headed to the Jamaican Market for "souvenir shopping". I was totally ripped off---they obviously saw a "gullible American" coming their way but I didn't even care about the excess that was spent b/c the vendors, obviously, needed whatever they could get far more than I needed a "good deal". I didn't enjoy the market b/c of the intense pressure from the vendors
but I managed to get some memorable items for my niece, and nephews and classroom kids.
We leave Jamaica tomorrow afternoon and I hate the sense of heaviness that is already intruding upon my heart. Today was, emotionally, more difficult than I had expected and I find myself not wanting to leave until more can be done. I keep hearing the words "Let God be God..." play in my mind.