Thursday, June 17, 2004

first news report from jamaica

Dear Friends,

Welcome from sunny Jamaica! We have been here for three days now, and the action is non-stop. It is hard to catch everyone up in a brief message - this one is being written from the computer lab in the Morant Bay Public Library. The operative word for Edu-Tourism is patience. We have been able to fit in so much so far. On the first day we visited Cane River Falls (the location where Bob Marley preferred to wash out his dreadlocks) and the memorial at Stony Gut, the location where Paul Bogle organized a rebellion against corrupt British colonial rule in 1865. That rebellion convulsed much of the parish of St. Thomas, and was put down by British troops at the expense of over 400 lives. Today the site is pretty overgrown, and includes a historical marker to the event.

The past two days we have been doing needs assessments in basic (early childhood) schools around Morant Bay. This has been very time consuming but also fun. We have set up a good number of computers, and will need to come back with educational software on CD - they don't have anything except the basic Microft Windows and Office applications so for.

Another highlight was making contact with a disability organization known as 3D projects. They have a branch office in this rural section of Jamaica, and provide important early intervention training for parents of children with disabilities. They have a great many needs. Like most of
the facilities we deal with, they connot yet access the internet from their computers. And yet there may be a great number of resources that the Institute on Disabilities provides that will be a tremendous boon for the. They occupy the same derelict building as the Women's Center. Both will need to move to new facilities in the short term before they can expand their offerings.

Jamaica is so close and yet so starved of things that we take for granted. We need to think of ways that we can work in coalition with these organizations.

More news after the weekend. We leave tomorrow morning to hike into the Blue Mountains for an evening in the clouds.

Warm regards from the field - your sweaty geographic explorer.

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