First Day of Community Projects

 

Today dawned bright and beautiful at JJ’s Paradise hotel in lovely St. Lucia. The day held a special air of excitement as all the Global Volunteers looked forward to our first REAL day of work, with our Anse La Raye partners.

 

Anticipation mounted as we quickly dispensed with breakfast and received our transportation assignments: preschool, infant school, and primary school teams in the first van; no make that secondary school and earth box teams in the first van and health education in the second; no, roving care givers, preschool and secondary school- well, you get the picture, and once again our fearless leaders, Bud and Warren provided us a good laugh at their expense.

 

Several of us took the opportunity while waiting for a van to return and hailed a water taxi across our pristine bay to change money at the Marigot Bank, can life be any more fun??

 

Then we were all off to our volunteer work assignments.  Country leaders and judge Kathy plus Steve, Joann and I met with Lucy Lubrin-Gerard, director of the roving care program which is run by the Ministry of Education Program Preschool Services of St. Lucia.  Lucy is a strong, capable administrator with a heart of gold.  She is a commanding presence in the Anse La Raye community as evidenced by her ability to simply step into the street of the village and call to two loudly swearing women, “Darlings, Darlings, Darlings, you must not do that”.  The fighting ended and each went her own way mumbling.

 

Lucy recounts statistics of negative influences on families, like reciting a grocery list: 22 % unemployment, no money for families to pay for preschool, recent passage of VAT of 15% Value Added Tax on all services, when none existed before. Domestic Violence, lack of social networks, incest, alcohol and cocaine abuse, high HIV rate, and more. Yet she remains optimistic, she is deeply appreciative of and committed to Global Volunteers for its role in supporting her programs.  She strongly advocates for her paraprofessional roving caregivers who are dedicated to serving their moms and babies even though they themselves only earn a stipend barely enough for them to survive on.  Always focused on the Mom’s personal lives, she embraces the Global Volunteers-inspired “spa day”, and encourages us to do it again.

 

After our indoctrination by Lucy and our lunch which we shared with Lucy, Joann and I were pared with our individual care givers.  Joann went roving with Abna to two homes.  Channelle and I went to two homes, the first in which the Mom was not at home, the second was a five-month old boy and his mom (for confidentiality purposes, we will not discuss the specifics of the family situation in this report).

 

There was open acceptance by the mothers to allow us as Global Volunteers to play with their babies.  During our visit we noted the childs’ developmental stage, the mother’s interaction with the baby, the home environment and especially the genuine love the care givers expressed toward the babies.  Channelle sang, played with puppets, and entertained the baby while easing him into my arms, while I joined in and completed her song.   Just as easily she moved the infant to his mother and indicated that the silent reserved mother pick up the tune and finish by singing to her son and finally placing a book in the mother’s hands.  About 35 minutes after we arrived with Mom reading to her son, Channelle and I sang a good-bye song and backed out the door, waving to a smiling baby and Mom.

 

This is one example in the monumental task of bringing change to one community to one Mom and one baby at a time.  Lucy tells us that she and her three caregivers are serving 46 families at this time.  That is 12-15 for each roving caregiver, two to three times a week. Clearly, Global Volunteers’ continued involvement is central to this effort.
-Carol
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