Community, Disaster Management in Jamaica by Hannah Morton
My name is Hannah Morton and in June 2011 I volunteered on the Disaster Management Project in Jamaica. I decided to volunteer in Jamaica as the Disaster Management project fit in well with what I am doing my dissertation on at University and was the perfect opportunity to get some personal insight and research.
My first days in Jamaica
When I first arrived I was slightly overwhelmed, my placement supervisors first impression of me was that I was ‘like a scared, jumpy mouse’, but I soon settled in within the next few days, and though it is very different from home, it’s also a very easy place to be.
My host family
My host family were lovely and made me feel welcome from the moment I arrived. That’s one thing you really notice in Jamaica, how friendly everyone is, be it your host family, taxi drivers, the staff at Projects Abroad, or the people you work with.
I was based at the Manchester Parish Council for my 1 month stay, which I have to stay flew by, and I would have loved to stay for longer! Working at the Parish council was great and I did a variety of work. This included shelter inspections at schools within the Parish, which if there was a hurricane or other emergency would become Emergency Shelters for the locals to go to. I put together information for and planned a hurricane awareness symposium, going out into communities and talking to them about disaster awareness. I also put together information on shelter locations and climate change and hurricane awareness for the Parish website.
I was able to carry out interviews with locals in the communities for my dissertation, with help from my supervisor at Projects Abroad and my placement. This was great as it gave me an opportunity to gain insight into their experiences of natural disasters and perceptions of disaster management within the area. It also meant I had the chance to see more of the Parish and how/where people live and work, and how they cope.
Travelling and all the fun!
It wasn’t all work and no play, as we had the weekends to ourselves and most volunteers go away in groups to different places around the island. I went to Ocho Rios where we climbed the Dunn river falls, Negril where we went snorkelling and cliff jumping, Kingston where we visited the Bob Marley Museum and took a boat out to Lime Cay, a sand bar just off the coast of Port Royal, and finally Montego Bay. Here we visited the Appleton Estate for a rum tour, then a visit to Falmouth one night, where when the water is moved micro-organisms within it give off a fluorescent glow (you can swim in it too which is amazing!).
My stay in Jamaica was unforgettable. I met some amazing people, made lots of new friends and gained professional experience and skills, and by volunteering with Projects Abroad I was living and working with the locals and got to experience the real Jamaica.
Jamaica is an amazing country and for anyone considering going I’d say go for it, you won’t regret it!