“Isn’t it nice to be home again”

It has taken me a few days to unpack, do laundry, pay bills, dig through mail, upload photos. I think part of me  (in addition to all of the skin that peeled off my back) is still in St. Lucia, because I awaken thinking about the children…then breakfast.  I can almost smell the bacon that Andrew cooked up for us every morning!

During breakfast, one volunteer would read her/his journal entry for the prior day.  Fool that I am, I signed up to do it the very last day, thinking that by then, I would have gotten the hang of journal writing a la Global Volunteers. What I DIDN’T consider was all the other things I needed to do before leaving:  packing, working on the team report, doing an evaluation, attending the final dinner, having one last “fling” with my new friends. I plan on going on many more Global Volunteer experiences, but for sure I WON’T be doing the last day’s journal.  I did get it done in time, so what the heck, I’ll share it with my Blog Buddies.  You, however, get a bonus that my team mates missed–visuals (and the captions that go with the visuals were not part of the journal).

Friday, March 23rd

The cricket match between the West Indies and Australia takes place today. This is a very big day for Anse La Raye, because the captain of the West Indies team is from their little village. To give you an idea of how big this is–the infant, primary and secondary schools are all closed today. Not so for Kid Step and Kiddie Homey Day Care, although we noticed that attendance was way down at both schools.

Today is also sports day at Kid Step, which means that the kiddies wear their different colored shirts identifying them as members of the blue, green or yellow teams. Edith and I expected to guide the children to the field in front of the medical center around 10 AM, however Ruth Fredericks stopped by to ask that we come to Kiddie Homey at 10.

Edith and I arrived to find  the children assembled in the big room. (Normally there are twice as many kids)

Marcia had taught the children a song about Charlie the fish, which they enthusiastically sang while the staff prepared for the farewell ceremony.

Brenda (one of the volunteers) is on the left; Ruth Frederick, the school administrator and teacher is on the right.

The four of us were seated together in front of the class, who proceeded to serenade us with songs about how special we were and how they loved us.This was followed by a solo about St Lucia performed by a very confident young girl with a beautiful voice. Miss Fredericks introduced her as a recent graduate of Kiddie Homey.

Each member of the staff had written a special individual tribute to each volunteer, which they read. They presented us with handmade cards, a beautiful framed photo of the children, and a huge glass full of the best vanilla and strawberry ice cream ever!

(I was so very touched by this gift.  I am quite aware of how difficult it must have been for them to create these personalized photos. It cost them considerable resources that are in very short supply–time, materials and money).

Miss Frederick wanted to make sure that we told Mr. Thomas and Mr. Thomas (fondly known as T Squared)  how much she appreciated their work on the door stoppers.

Edith and I then hustled over to the field. Some of the fathers had put up two white tents in front of the medical center. Another had brought over the school’s plastic chairs so the children could sit out of the sun when they were not competing.

Parents, aunts, grandparents and siblings were assembled on the field to cheer the children on and to photograph them as they raced to bring colored blocks, one at a time, from one goal back to the other.

A historical moment–Barack (blue shorts)  and McCain (red shorts) racing against each other.  This time, McCain won.

These little girls can MOVE! I love watching their faces while they are running.

Herman is intensely focused on this race!

Clowie was disappointed that she came in last.  Fortunately, her mom was there to comfort her.

Next up, relay race–pass the paint brush.  And the crowd went WILD!  Take a look!

I was impressed with the creativity of the teachers and the ingenious way they used common materials as teaching aids.

At the end of the races, they presented us with the cards they had made for each of us. I had watched them work on these cards thinking that these were materials for the kids. They traced the butterflies, colored them by hand, cut them out, pasted them on construction paper, and then wrote lovely messages in each during their lunch time, and while the children napped.

At noon, some members of the preschool team returned back to the hotel, but I was having way too much fun to leave. Wandering the streets provided an opportunity to chat with the locals.

I got a taste of what it must be like for friends of Angelina Jolie. People wanted to know if I was friends with Anse la Raye’s biggest celebrities, Gabi and Laurie.

Left to right: My new friends, Laurie, Dotty, Edith and Gabi.  All members of the “ladies who lunch” in Anse La Raye.  The empty chair belongs to me, the intrepid photographer.

I had time to poke my head in to say hello to Kathy and Jim at the medical center while the kids were having lunch, a little before 12. Then it was time to head over to the library to join in the party the roving caregivers were throwing for Laurie and Gabi. Well, timing is everything in life. My escort, one of the caregivers, spotted them at the end of the block ahead of us. Damn, I missed the birthday party, the wine, the toe nail polishing and the food. On the van home, I heard about the feast the medical team made for Jim and Kathy that started started shortly after I left. So much for the luck of the Irish!

But all was not lost. There was just enough time to visit the local salon to get transformed into Island Girls.

Braided and bedazzled, Laurie and I made our last trip to the market for a final opportunity to stimulate the local economy. I got a dress for our big night tonight, and added to my collection of bling.(See above)

After our dinner with the Anse La Raye partners, we plan on celebrating Laurie’s birthday with an encore of “girls gone wild” at JD’s restaurant. Lawrence, who also doubles as our security guard, is the main attraction at JDs, and we are his Global Volunteer groupies.

This has been my first Global Volunteer experience, but it won’t be my last. I have so much admiration for both Ruth Frederick and Wilcina Gabriel, who spend all day, every weekday showering their love, attention and patience on these beautiful, funny, energetic children. It was an amazing experience.

The evenings were such fun. I was glad to be able to spend time with such a diverse group of fascinating world travelers, and hope that the budding friendships will be like earth boxes and flourish and grow.

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I am intensely curious, with a spirit of adventure that is tempered by my very strong aversion to anything with potential to cause pain. I love travel, photography, reading, gardening, yoga, music and propelling myself through space (biking, dancing, walking, dancing while walking). I've never considered a lack of proficiency in any of the previous activities to be a hindrance, counting on abundant enthusiasm to make up for my shortcomings.

One thought on ““Isn’t it nice to be home again””

  1. Once again I am sure you have left your mark in St Lucia, I am sure people all over that Island are still looking for you.


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