Tama have been sponsors of the Young Farmers Clubs Travel Program for many years now, helping the next generation to broaden their horizons and experience different cultures. Lucy Trevarthen, from Totnes Young Farmers, went to Jamaica recently and has written below about her time overseas.
During our first week in Jamaica we visited “Mustard Seed: Gift of Hope”, a residential centre for children and young adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. Whilst volunteering at Gift of Hope, our main ambition was to prepare a field ready for use as allotments and to begin planting some seeds. We worked to clear the field by hand so that all areas were accessible for the staff and residents. It took four days to completely clear the field and this was extremely difficult work in the Jamaican sunshine! We discussed with the staff at the centre which crops would be most beneficial to them as it is planned that the produce from the allotment will be used to make meals for the residents. Gift of Hope are experiencing food insecurity and so in addition to helping them to develop a sustainable, long term plan, we were able to donate non-perishable food items for immediate support.
We were privileged to be invited to spend time with some of the people who call Gift of Hope home. Most residents who live at Gift of Hope are expected to remain there for life and so the staff worked tirelessly with the few resources they had to enrich their daily activities. Each person had very complex individualised needs and with 26 residents and only 8 staff on site at any one time the centre were extremely grateful to have extra support. Each day I assisted with feeding those who were unable to feed themselves and spent this time learning more about each person that I supported. On our final day at Gift of Hope the staff and residents put on a musical showcase for us, inviting us to sing songs of gratitude with them. This was a very emotional day for all of the NFYFC volunteers as we said goodbye to the new friends we had made.
Our second week in Jamaica was spent at the Ebenezer Rehabilitation Centre, a residential establishment for men suffering from mental health difficulties and homelessness in the region of Manchester, Jamaica. Many of the men had spent time in hospitals or prisons before reaching the rehabilitation centre. Residents are supported with reintegration into society and many have been assisted in finding employment, allowing them the freedom of leaving the site each day. Our aim at the Ebenezer Centre was to prepare an area of land and replant it with new crops, working alongside the residents. Once again, we had no machinery and had to clear the land by hand. While working alongside the men we were able to teach them techniques for clearing land more quickly and the most effective ways of planting different fruits and vegetables. The residents also shared with us stories of their time living at the centre, and how the farmland has grown from a small allotment to large fields of crops and even some livestock. As we progressed with clearing and replanting the field more quickly than expected, we were also able to prepare a large greenhouse for some seedlings to be planted too!
Once again I would like to express my gratitude to Tama for your kind support. For me personally this trip was an invaluable experience which helped develop my skills of resilience, perseverance and teamwork.