On one hand Jamaica’s well off enjoy all the modern amenities like exclusive clubs, and large shopping malls while some 16% live below the poverty line. Due to a history of slave-plantation heritage, the descendants of the black slaves are generally the poorest classes in the country. The end of slavery also led to the beginnings of education for all. The government is currently investing and modernizing the educational system and uses volunteer help where ever possible.
A large number of children speak Jamaican Creole at home, while Jamaican Standard English which is a mixture of American and British English is practiced in schools. It is considered to be the key to acquiring the most desirable jobs in tourism industry. Volunteer help is much appreciated in aiding with the pronunciation and improving the Standard English. Having conversations with the children and listening to their experiences helps to develop the student’s confidence and practice the language skills. Volunteers can work in schools by supporting and assisting teachers, or they can take part in community literacy projects participating in adult literacy programs.
Traditional sugar-farming communities have to guarantee the sustainability of their communities in a new era where tourism has taken over the country’s economy. Volunteers experience life in a small, rural town in a home-stay environment and contribute their skills and exchange stories with the locals while helping to build a better future. Volunteers help to build and repair homes for community members without adequate shelter, tutor in local schools and run summer youth camps.
Jamaica’s Cockpit County is a wilderness with many endemic species and unique karst topography. Limestone hills with upside-down egg carton, complex cave systems, and many river and spring systems are in danger due to lack of poor land use methods and limited economic options. Volunteers help in putting sustainable development practices in use, cleaning local rivers, caves, marking trails, building wash stations to filter soap residue into rivers and executing anti-erosion techniques on hillsides.