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Knowing, Going & Showing: What We Do

“The relationship between the one and the many is at the heart of leadership.  Lord Byron put it this way: ‘And when we think we lead, we are most led.’  This may at first glance appear like that old saw.  ‘Quickly, I must hurry, for there go my people and I am their leader.’  But, Byron meant something else.  Great leadership senses what is emerging.  It’s about tapping into and being part of the zeitgeist.  It’s about leaders being part of things, not an external change agent acting upon them.  Great leaders ride change, they don’t manage it, just as surfers do not create the waves they surf.” (bolding & emphasis mine) ~Phil Dourado

[(left)Front, in brown is our former host-mom “Madge”. These are some of my go-to people in our community. Here they are in Porti, at a training event preparing them to conduct community health surveys. (center) Josh & I were not allowed to participate, to our great dismay. Here’s J.bo post-“kick out.”  (right) Stores in town get decked out for Christmas—really nice decorations too! This is KFC.]
So you people want to know what the heck we do, what we fill our weeks with…well, it’s complicated.  The jobs we were given prior to actually living here were specific, but allowed for flexibility and with good reason.  Josh and I have very different skill-sets, so we find ourselves working together on most tasks, but taking different aspects as our individual “jobs.”

  • •    Josh has a B.S. & 3 years’ work exp. in Civil Engineering, esp. road/drainage/residential design. He loves concrete and carpentry, is a talented photographer, loves (and plays) music of all varieties and is a (polite) movie snob.  He’s the best.
  • •    Jesse has a B.A. in Anthropology and work exp. in staffing & administration.  She loves nerdy stuff like socio-political research, manatees, dairy products, waterfalls & hoodie-sweatshirts.  She’s okay too.

No two weeks are the same with work (unless we’re talking about the days we DON’T work due to rain or something).  “Work” in terms of what we are here to do (COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING TOWARDS SELF-DEVELOPMENT) moves very slow, in part because we rely on others here to steer us, while they have other full-time jobs to feed their families.

Our first several months at site have been mostly spent getting to know our surroundings (and making ourselves accessible for people to get to know us).  We spend a good amount of time & money in active strategy toward some bigger projects, e.g. encouraging community groups to meet regularly and to become more active, liaising with government (and non-government) to cooperate on health/environmental events in our area or developments such as solid-waste collection, road work and water system repairs.  Naturally, we encounter much resistance and/or apathy…thus, we rarely find our phone calls or emails returned (etc.).  So yeah…

It’s difficult to provide you guys with a realistic “day in the life,” without scheduling in quite a lot of down-time, outgoing calls/emails, and belly-aching about NOT having internet, printer/copiers and our own vehicle.

That being said, here are some detailed goals we have, either given us by Peace Corps, our agencies or through our own observation:
PC Community Environmental Health (CEH) Project Plan:
— Communities will improve their overall health practices
— Communities will improve their access to and use of appropriate water resources for good health
— Communities will improve and adopt appropriate sanitation practices and infrastructure for good health

Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association (mostly Jess, some Josh):

— Internal Organization & Strengthening
— Grant-writing, coordination for funding BPFA projects (refurbishing a community ctr. Destroyed in a recent    hurricane, improvements at their eco-lodge site “Ambassabeth,” developing marketing materials for the same, assisting their agri-business component to become more efficient and marketable, etc.)
— Supporting any/all greater community development opportunities (as in GETTING THEM GOING), especially concerning livelihood opportunities, water, sanitation, roadwork and solid waste disposal.  This objective includes our involvement in nearby schools & additional interest groups.

Moore Town Council (mostly Josh):
— Technical support with design & construction supervision on several proposed projects (site design for Moore Town Cultural Center & Guest House, rebuild of stairway to Nanny Falls tourist attraction, water system improvements and several other development ideas)
— Involvement at Moore Town Primary School.  So far, this has included computer repair/upgrades/education and music education.

And one (1) more list for your viewing pleasure and edification…

*  Beginning stages of making a short documentary proposal on The Road in our area; how its degradation & lack of maintenance has affected lots of different aspects of the communities over time (economy, health care, education, reputation, identity, activity of area)
*  Developing (and are leading) a workshop series for BPFA targeting increased organization & leadership.  Wish us luck—the 1st workshop is this Tuesday!
*  Attracting the attention of agricultural/health/development groups in Jamaica that may have a shared interest in our projects and cooperating to achieve common goals.  These are service providers, nat’l & int’l aid and conservation organizations and local 4H, PTAs and church groups. (This is tougher than it seems at first.)
*  Collecting research & quote(s) for a BPFA proposal to equip Ambassabeth with off-grid solar lighting, water heating & solar kitchen (stove/oven).  We’d love a consultant visit from one Jon Murphy right now!
*  Writing a SPA grant proposal to Peace Corps for construction/installation of road signs in our community, highlighting towns, rivers & bridges and cultural/environmental points of interest.
*  Working with orgs. like Ministry of Health, Nature Conservancy & Rural Agriculture Dvmt Agency (RADA), which sponsor educational & training events in our area.
*  Planning a few upcoming events—new & old—like Ambassabeth’s grand re-opening in the spring, World Water Day (March 22) and Earth Day (April 22), a youth summer camp (TBA) and Ancestral Memories (Aug.1).  Josh is point-man on getting Ambassabeth’s water system up to health standards, which requires construction of some little filtration/storage component.  He’s thinking about a slow sand filter… He’s also working on a brochure including an aerial map of the cabin site & trail system.  These tasks take a TON of steps to complete.

Okay…whew. Well, that’s pretty much it.  I’ll let you know if there any major changes to this in the future.  This will be a good reference, though.


One Response

  1. thank you for this information-filled post. it makes things clearer while still being vague enough to keep the mystery! :) love you

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