Thursday, February 26, 2009

More D'ca

Finally today I saw some children. Terrific little willing workers. The school has had the building that was blown away in the hurricane of 2004 rebuilt, so there is some more space. There is a nice library now. When the 2 volunteers arrived 3 weeks ago nothing had been unpacked since the hurricane. Yes, books and teaching materials were all still in damp boxes alongside boxes of brand new materials and books. They did the mammoth job of unpacking, sorting, discarding, arranging on the shelves thousands of books. Just a note to those who think they would like to donate school books, library books and teaching materials to "disadvantaged" your research first. Certainly St. John's School in Dominica does not need anymore school library books. The school is very well stocked with children's lit.

I am going to have a lot to say about the school system here. My present oberservation is that it is about 40 to 50 years behind the time.

Then, this afternoon I went over to C.A.L.L.S. and volunteered one afternoon a week (to start). Right away they set me up with a 15 year old girl from Haiti who speaks no English or French - only Creole - so I will see her for a couple of hours a week and try to teach her some basic English. I'll probably do more there. By the way, her lovely name is Lovely! ESL is becoming an issue, there are several Haitian children in St. John's who don't speak any English and who don't read and write in their own language.

I was astonished when I went into CALLS this afternoon to be recognized by the director and her assistant and welcomed like a family member! Great. This has happened several times and I am always knocked out!

I wish I could get some photos up on this page, but that'll have to wait until I get home.

More later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


OK Gang - I give up, so I have to start my blog re D'ca from week 2. Be assured that many adventures were had in the first week .

For example, there is the lost luggage saga. The usual story of having a perfect flight down to Antigua, checking luggage through customs, getting on the airplane to Dominica, a 30 minute plane ride (prop plane) and arriving in Antigua sans luggage. I had put everything on, including my carry-on thinking that it was hot. I was tired and hungry, what could go wrong? I made it to D'ca, but the luggage didn't. I even saw it sitting on the tarmack waiting to get loaded back in Antigua. I soon discovered that it was everyone's luggage, not just mine, that got left behind. It would come the next day. NOT. So then for sure the very next day. Meanwhile the Island had run completely out of petrol, so everyone was reluctant to go the 1 hour trip to the airport. By now I had given up and decided to go shopping and spend my grocery money on necessities when my carry on turned up. The big one it seemed was still on Antigua. Anyway, it too finally arrived.

There was no petrol at all during Carnival, and boy were the rumours about why rife. There was a leak, the Guadalupians were hoarding, D'ca hadn't paid its bill...the Carnival goers were the most upset-and then Portsmouth ran out of bread. But that is all now over. Everyone has a full tank of gas and various buckets (with and without lids) have been filled and I hope stored safely. Bread will be in the stores tomorrow.

I haven't actually taught any children yet, as Carnival is a 3 day holiday and today is a PD day. I have met several, and reacquainted with one or two who remembered me from last time. I've been to the beach instead.

The carnival: I just don't know what to say: it has me stumped. Every second little shop has a mammoth bank of speakers that are turned up to maximum spewing out so called 'calypso' music. The entire town turns out on the street 'jumping' and 'chipping' (a kind of shuffle). For 2 solids days.

My accomodations are excellent. Large, clean, bright; however, I am being eaten by something at night and wake up with little horribly itchy red spots that I have scratched in my sleep and made worse.

Food is plentiful and expensive. People are friendly. Water is drinkable (but I don't). The most glaring thing is the complete lack of environmental awarness. No 3 Rs going on here!

I am also going to give a day to the local agency that trains young people in an upgrading, work skills, life skills program. Just up my alley.

Stay tuned.