Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Denbigh 2013

Denbigh, Clarendon, is home to Jamaica's annual Denbigh agriculture show. Last year I spent Jamaica's 50th Independence Day there. That monumental day coupled with Bolt's recent Olympic achievements led to quite the cultural experience. I remember calling another volunteer who was on site, trying to locate each other in the crowds. "I'm wearing green and yellow," I said. "Oh, wait. Everyone is wearing green and yellow."

This year, about 15 PCVs lead by a fearless Programming and Training Specialist partnered with Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement to run a children's booth inside of their Green Village. Following are pictures and a little article I wrote following the 3-day extravaganza:

Peace Corps’
Children’s Village Reaches the Masses

Across the world, Peace Corps Volunteers are known for their ability to make something out of nothing, for combining ingenuity with frugality to accomplish great things. PCJ’s Green Initiative Programming and Training Specialist, AS, relied on this trait when Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement officials asked her to rally the troops for their Green Village inside of Jamaica’s annual Denbigh agriculture show only weeks before the national event.

JOAM has focused on promoting local, organic farming especially among rural farmers since 2001. At Denbigh, their booth featured organic crop farming, organic apiaries, presentations and discussions about organic farming in Jamaica, and Peace Corps’ Children’s Village. Volunteers from all sectors came together to create a purposeful, educational, and interactive walk through the village.

Starting with Green Initiative volunteers AB, AF, AG, and KK's composting table, children had the opportunity to touch, smell, and see actual compost in three different stages. Children then read and sequenced a poem about the lifecycle of Barry the Banana going from just “one of the bunch” to providing key nutrients on a garden floor.

Moving right along to the enviorcy table, children heard a basic rendition of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. “It was just really cool to be a part of helping both children and adults engage in informal activities and discussions about the environment, and I especially loved being able to use a children’s book to do so. Having parents ask to play the kid games (like Pin the Moustache on the Lorax) was a highlight,” says Education group 83’s BF.

What looked like a piece of trash hanging from trees really led children to read cartoon strips of what happens to a plastic bottle. Green Initiative volunteer, JS (group 84), illustrated what happens to a plastic bottle under four common choices: recycling, burning, dashing it on the ground, or throwing it in a trash receptacle. Once children made a choice, they followed a string to the corresponding cartoon. Made clear through J's creative drawings, recycling is the best way to dispose of plastic waste.

A Children’s Village wouldn’t be complete without the excitement of sweeties. Children had the opportunity to win such a prize after completing the JOAM Green Village scavenger hunt PO (83, Green Initiative) created. “A boy around 13 that struggled to read came back to the scavenger hunt station about 9 or 10 times asking for help with the instructions and ultimately completed all six answers correctly. Perseverance and a willingness to ask for help!” was one of P’s most memorable moments of the three-day adventure.

M (83, Youth as Promise) and P’ (84, Green Initiative) craft table clearly won the popularity contest. As if displaying creative ways to reuse typical packaging wasn’t enough, they gave any willing child the opportunity to fashion their own bling from plastic bottles, spare yarn, paper, and plastic bags as a part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle component of the village. Imagine the fun of playing with the thought that M and P may have even influenced future designers and entrepreneurs. A late-add face-painting station brought joy to many children’s faces (and arms) as well.

Though the days were long and hot, these 14 Peace Corps Volunteers put their best efforts forward in educating Denbigh participants about the value of our earth and the effects of caring for it. Countless children, teens, and adults came through our corner of the village over the three days.

A special thanks to those not previously mentioned: Green Initiative volunteers LF (83), ER (84), JM (83), and MK (83, Youth as Promise) and KW (83, Education) for their efforts and participation. We would not have been able to pull this event off without the generous hospitality of Uncle and Aunty and their nephew. Lastly, thank you A for having a vision to partner with JOAM to promote world peace through friendship.