Student Reflection: Project Homestead Place of Safety

The B&B University College ABE Student Union body of 2015-2016, planned a charity project for the Homestead Place of Safety in Stony Hill, St. Andrew. After months of unforeseen circumstances which lead to subsequent delays, the project was finally held on April 2, 2016. A total of five (5) of the eight (8) members of the student union were present, along with about ten (10) members of the student body, with an addition of a construction student, photographer, union supervisor, and lecturer who donated materials for the constructors to work with.

The students arrived at the Homestead Place of Safety by 10: 00am bearing gifts of toiletries, stationaries, gift bags, and clothes. All geared up and excited- to some extent; but certainly unprepared for what they arrived into.

Lockdown!

From front to back, windows and doors, grills padlocked to keep the overly excited females on the inside and the somewhat fragile, totally unexperienced young people on the outside. A bit of havoc to begin with, as the weekend supervisor tried to get things under control to get the once all geared up and excited students- now frightened and eager to leave students, to safety. Unfortunately, this is no exaggeration.

The compound was home to three (3) separate buildings- the main building which housed several dorms, a cosmetology centre, and a mini house for the older females ages 17 to 19. The mini house was where all the visiting contributors gave their hands and feet some rest before getting down to the meat of the matter…almost literally. By 10:30 the constructors were getting down to business with cement as the members of the student union got their hands dirty, shoving gravel and dirt out the back of a pickup truck.

The remaining student body members got busy too as their fears slowly…very slowly cleared to make way for the excitement that had seemed to take cover somewhere deep below. They interacted with the females…some whom had a form of disability, others who were placed temporarily due to the hearing at a court case, and others who simply had nowhere else to go. They played games such as the very famous Jamaican teenage sport Dandy Shandy, and a few others, more on the civil side, like Charades. Prizes were given to the winner of each round and even to onlookers for good behaviour.

At the end of the day, despite the very few setbacks, everything was accomplished and all were pleased. A work well done by the constructors, and the photographer that seemed to capture the best moments. To the students who placed a smile on even one face, and to all others who donated and supported to make it possible. It was indeed a day well spent, and a charity to be remembered by all the students of the ABE student body year 2015-2016.

 

Impact on Student Body

So apart from the heart throbbing introduction from the hosts on arrival, the student body handled the day’s proceedings rather well. Initially, they were under the impression that they were visiting children between the ages of 3- 10… however, these were females three and four and five times those ages. Something they got over eventually though, as the moment they began to interact with the hosts, everything changed. Truth to be acknowledged, for many, it was a new experience…and one quite interesting. The way in which they all…well… mostly got along, had most of them relaxed in just a matter of minutes. They gave advice, heard some famous stories as some of the hosts shared their experiences, some even sharing “deets” (details) about their “love” life. They also got the opportunity to play games and give out gifts, comb hair, even sit and watch the television, and make a trip to the dorms to check out posters and prized possessions. By the end of the day, some wanted to stay a bit longer, and others wanted to visit again, concluding that the experience was one that left a mark in the path of the lives of those young people as they were able to be inspired, to be grateful for what they have and to learn something new, and pass on something remarkable_ hope.

 

Impact on me

After being an active member of both the Key Club and Interact Club for four years of high school, let’s just say a charity project wasn’t anything she hadn’t done before…but this certainly wasn’t something she had ever before experienced. The age group was definitely the oldest of all she’d ever been around for charities, and they were definitely a lot more of a handful, but the storylines were, for the most part, the same. It was greatly heartrending to hear how majority of them got there- abused, neglected, raped, abandoned… at some point during their childhood. It wasn’t only the fact that they were placed in such complicated positions at those ages, but also the fact that the ability to live as an average teenager with opportunities available to an average teenager was no longer so simply possible. It’s the fact that at their ages, they should be in high school preparing for CXC’s, maybe CAPE, and figuring out what they want to be, and having hope that they can achieve all their goals. It’s the fact that even though a handful were placed there due to bad behaviour, they all have the ability to be entrepreneurs and the best advocates for something great because they too can be an inspiration. Not saying this can’t all be possible, but how possible can it be without some form of major intervention from educational facilities to say well, skills can be learnt or degrees can be pursued, or the freedom to utilize such opportunities? Pretty much the same case with majority of homes across the island. But apart from all that lovely thought, the project was simply, an eye opener. If never before could she truly be appreciative of the fact that though not better than most, she’s better than some… and the future is not promised and to make the best of what she’s got while she can, she could by the end of the day. Inspirational… the final adjective. And as a result of the activities and proceedings of the project, she agreed with the PRO of the Student Union, to aspire to do more through the EMP (Empowerment Foundation), once established, with the help of all who aspire to make a difference in someone else’s life.

 

Impact on the Homestead Place of Safety

It’s not every day you see strange faces and get to interact with a bunch of young people your age group, when in a home. Apparently, neither is it that they get the opportunity to interact with young men on the compound… well, of course that’s expected. A day well spent and appreciated_ a little storytelling here and there, laughter, gifts, snacks, you name it. It was obvious that for the most part, the hosts had fun. They were able to have one- on- ones with young people who, though might not have had the exact experience, had somewhat similar, or knowledge of what to do in such cases. They were able to rant about special some ones and what it’s like to live in a place without freedom. They got the opportunity to play games with unfamiliar faces, and hear stories they never had before. It might not have been the first, but their smiles and the assumption of their gratitude said it’s been a while. The supervisors themselves were pleased and truly grateful for the contributions, as they were in well need of the items donated, and in great need of the paved walkway. The charity project done by B&B University College truly left its mark on the grounds of the Homestead Place of Safety, with a reminder that regardless of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’ve been through… you are a sign of hope and inspiration that there is greatness in you.

 

 

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