Wednesday, 2 November 2011


As many people said before I arrived in Jamaica, "Your volunteer work will likely be very different from what you expect to be doing." And they were right.

After several weeks of deliberation and assessment, my placement has changed in its entirety.  Due to many circumstances, but most critically the loss of core funding for the youth program, my placement was not going to work as originally planned.  My role was to expand the Dispute Resolution Foundation youth suspension program, and as you can guess, when an entire program's future is uncertain, expansion is no longer feasible. Last Friday was my last day working out of the community centre in Flanker.

This week I have began my new role as "Youth Program Development Advisor" for CUSO-VSO. The gist of the placement is this: I am working to develop new placements for volunteers in Montego Bay and the western region. As you may recall, I am the only volunteer currently in Montego Bay; everyone else is in Kingston. In addition, CUSO-VSO Jamaica is expanding the kinds of placements for which it recruits. The aim is to place volunteers that strategically align with CUSO's goals, to build momentum in areas that will have significant impact for the country.  Up until recently, volunteering in Jamaica was primarilay focused on the theme of "Access to Justice for Women and Children".  Starting this month, volunteers in Jamaica will also be placed under the theme of "Youth - promoting social and economic inclusion." So my new position dovetails well with the development of the new theme.

All of this means I will continue to live in Montego Bay.  I am working from home, which is a bit challenging.  As the placement develops I expect I will be out and about visiting different people and organizations. For now, I have set up temporary offices in a coffee shop in town and at the Yacht Club a couple times a week, both of which have WiFi and don't seem to be bothered by me hanging around for a while.

I am really looking forward to this role. I will have the opportunity to meet with different organizations and find out about the work they are doing. If (or when) I am successful, I will get to meet the volunteers that are matched with placements that I helped develop! As well, the staff team at the Jamaica program office is very supportive, and it's always good to like the people you will be working alongside. I think it will be great, but keep your fingers crossed for me just in case!

On another note, here are some pictures I took when Wendy was here and we had a drink at the Richmond Hill Hotel - it has a patio with the best view in town, according to the guidebook.

A Canadian military ship leaving the harbour.  We think they were in Jamaica to provide assistance in the case of a hurricane.

Three catamaran ships heading back to the harbour.
The Canadians heading out to sea.
A final blaze of glory.


  1. Wow Julia! It sounds like you're having quite the adventure. I'm sure you'll be successful at whatever they task you with. I'll keep my fingers crossed any way. Enjoy yourself down there :) Justine

  2. Thanks Justine. It is a far cry from the projects we were doing! Hope all is well with you.