Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Good things happening

What's the best sign of a committed nonprofit organization? Why, a resident cat that's been around for 11 years, of course!

Yesterday I visited Rise Life Management Services, an inspiring NGO that is working with youth in 8 neighbourhoods in downtown Kingston.  This organization started out with a focus on responding to addictions, providing treatment, education and crisis management.  They soon realized that they wanted to be in the business of preventing addictions in youth, so they branched out with programs to serve the many youth-at-risk in the neighboring communities, including education, life skills, employment training, technology access and leadership through the arts.

Around the time of this change (which was about when they acquired their cat) the organization identified several youth participants that showed potential and continued to give them intensive leadership and lifestyle training opportunities.  Eventually, 10 of these youth were hired to work for RISE directly, and today they are managing and leading programs for the next generations of youth. They are positive role models in action!

Two of the program staff who've been around as long as the cat has.

This mural is based on an award-winning poster designed by a member of the community depicting respecting human rights.
The fruits of one of RISE's environment awareness programs - a Doctor Bird planter made out of an old tire.
Cuso's partnership with RISE is working on expanding their fundraising strategy to ensure organizational sustainability in covering operating and staff costs between program funding.  Plans are already in the works for another volunteer to work on developing a social enterprise model  which will help train young entrepreneurs in developing their business, and have the profits support both the community and RISE.      
On the left, Sonita, the Executive Director of RISE, on the right, Britta, a Cuso volunteer.
 I also visited Y.O.U. today, which stands for Youth Opportunities Unlimited.  They are the biggest mentoring agency in the developing world, with 250-350 relationships active annually.  The relationships are primarily between youth-at-risk and adult volunteers with the goal of encouraging youth to finish school, get job training, and to teach them positive life skills through role models. 

Kate is our trusty Cuso volunteer at Y.O.U. and she brings a background in journalism and communications.  The goal is develop a public relations strategy for Y.O.U. to raise its profile in the community, garnering more support and awareness for the organization. 
Kate at Y.O.U.
It is very inspiring to see the work going on in other organizations and to see my fellow volunteers in action!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Breaking Radio Silence

I bet you thought I'd forgotten all about you, didn't you? Well no, I haven't, I've just been collecting more sailing, sunset, and other such enticing pictures for you.  No white sand beach in this batch, but I'll work on that for next time...

After the rain

Sailing with double jibs - kind of works like a spinnaker sail, pulling the boat forward when the wind is from behind.  Tried this out on the way to Negril last weekend.

Okay, not such a stunning photo, but these are dolphin fish - notice how big they are compared to the red stripe bottles to the right.  These were somebody's dinner, just laying on the dock.

Oh no, a collision between a tanker and a sailboat!  Quick, somebody tell them before it gets dark!
I have been spending quite a bit of time on the Knutsford Express this month, which is the bus that runs between Montego Bay and Kingston.  It has been helpful to be in the big city to meet with people who can help move my Cuso work forward.

On Saturday night I attended the "Commodore's Ball" at the Montego Bay Yacht Club. This year the Club is also celebrating its 75th anniversary.  That is even more impressive when you realize that Jamaica is celebrating its 50th year of independence this year. Sorry my pictures are a bit sparse, I was too busy eating, drinking and dancing.

Captain Phil, paddling the dingy "gondola" across from Diva to the Yacht Club in his tuxedo.

Everyone was decked out in their finery.  It was the first time I really felt sorry for men in their suits, as it was really hot that evening.

A blurry photo from the end of the night - I am on the left.  Thanks Audrey for the loan of the dress and jewelery!

I busted my shoes and so had to dance barefoot all night. ;-)
So there you go - another radio update from Jamaica.

Is there anything you'd like to hear more about (or see) from my life in Jamaica?  I'm happy to take audience requests - just shout them out. Louder - I can't hear you...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cold in Canada

Back in Jamaica yesterday after a week spent in Canada, celebrating my father's milestone birthday. It included lots and lots of family time, with a short layover in Toronto to see friends and my pseudo-families there.  I spent a lot of time being cold and wet and am exceedingly glad to be warm again!
Me chilly as usual - in front of Burrard Bridge in Vancouver - we were having the obligatory Granville Island tour.

Downtown Vancouver - it's not always that grey, but mostly...
My lunch from Granville Public Market

My sister, Erika, who took many of the pictures on this blog, including shots 1, 2, and 4 above.

 My Dad bought himself a birthday present of a new motorcycle, which has just a little "omff".  Both my parents ride and enjoy touring around the lower mainland, Vancouver Island, and even down to Arizona and back.  However, this bike is apparently just for trips to the coffee shop!

Apparently I can't use the crop function properly in my photo editor, but you get the idea...
 On Saturday a big birthday party was planned.  What my Dad didn't know was that his parents and 4 sisters and 3 of their spouses were going to show up.  It's had to keep a secret from my Dad, but you can see from his expression that he really was surprised to see everyone there when he walked through the door. We even had a laptop on the kitchen table where his brother was "present" via Skype.

My Mom was in on the surprise, but even she wasn't sure if he had suspected anything until this moment.
The party had a 60s theme, so my aunts all wore matching embroidered shirts that my Grandmother had made them way back when.
Can you feel the heat?  Good times were had by all.
Other than copious amounts of family bonding, I spent some time shopping and a lot of time eating.  We also did a little bit of enjoying Vancouver and surroundings. It is a different kind of beautiful than the tropics, but no denying it, Vancouver is stunning.

Boats at Deep Cove

Donuts at Deep Cove - no, I didn't eat them all by myself!
Thanks to my sister for the pictures - all of the birthday party shots and the three at the beginning.  She is a great photographer and posts lots of her images on her blog: Digital Echo.

Lovely to see so many of you, friends and family!  Do come visit if you get a chance...