Sandy Bay Progress Report

Plans – Action – Results

School Renovation - Sandy Bay, JamaicaSt. John’s Jamaica project phase one is complete! Thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of parishioners at St. John’s, the volunteer team went to Jamaica to the work, and the Sandy Bay Public School is now already transformed. Here is our daily journal of the first phase of the project – bathroom overhaul and classroom essentials.

Day 0 – Thursday

The St. John's team - Damien, John, and Mark

The volunteer team of worker bees from St. John’s – Damien, John, and Mark – arrived at Sandy Bay on Thursday, August 20. They flew from Toronto to Montego Bay, which is on the north coast on the west side of Jamaica, and from there they travelled 25 km along the coast to Sandy Bay.

Day 1 – Friday

The girls' bathroom before the renovation

The girls' bathroom before the renovation

In the morning the volunteers visited the school for the first time, to look around and assess in detail the work that needed to be done. Once that was complete, they got to work removing the existing fixtures and stall doors from the bathrooms, as this is where the first renovation will be carried out.

Day 2 – Saturday

Now that they know what needed to be done, it was time to head to the building supply store to get materials and tools. The weight of all the building supplies loaded down the van so much that they had tire trouble on the way back to Sandy Bay. Luckily it did not take too long to fix, and they were able to start working in the morning.

Van loaded with building supplies

By the end of the day, the volunteers had completely finished tiling the floor in the girls’ bathroom.

Mark laying tiles on the bathroom floor

Mark laying tiles on the bathroom floor

The volunteers also learned just how hot it is in Jamaica. With August temperatures over 30 and the humidity, it can feel like 40 degrees. It’s a good thing that we have the ocean breeze.

Day 3 – Sunday

Taking a break

Taking a break

The school is closed and everyone enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation. The beach look very inviting and it’s so close.

Day 4 – Monday

John and Damien at work with the tiling

John and Damien at work with the tiling

The volunteers started early, at 6 a.m., when it’s still a little cooler. They began the day with another trip to pick up more building supplies – happily this time with no tire troubles.

The plan for the day is to completely tile the floor in the boys’ bathroom, then get a start on tiling the walls in the girls’ bathroom.

Mark cutting tiles with helper observing

Mark and the helper are cutting tiles

Ariel and Briar have arrived and are on site today at the school. A local helper is also on the job today to help with the construction.

Ariel with some children

Ariel with some children - some are more shy than others

Day 5 – Tuesday

Daimen on dusty construction site

A construction site can be a dusty place, as Damien shows here

John and Jason tiling sinks

John and Jason tiling sinks in the bathroom

Even with building materials and dust from construction everywhere, the school’s interior is already looking a lot better.

At this point most of the heavy construction is complete, and now we can turn attention to the finishing work – cleaning and painting.

In the van going home at day's end

The work is done for another day, now it's time to head home

Day 6 – Wednesday

Michele and Damien painting the bathroom

With construction dust cleaned away, Michele and Damien are applying a coat of paint

It’s been not even one week on the project and already the many hands are bringing things to a great finish.

School supplies - notebooks, crayons, etc.

New school supplies all ready for a new school year starting in September

As the work on the building nears completion, it’s time to think about the people who will be in the building – the children and the teachers. We start with new school supplies for a new school year.

As the volunteers have been at the school for several days now, the children are replacing shyness with curiosity about what these visitors are doing.

Glen with camera and several curious children

Glen shows several young "acolytes" the secrets of taking really good photos

Day 7 – Thursday

Mark receives gift from Sandy Bay children

After Daimien, Mark receives a gift from the children of Sandy Bay school

Thursday was the day to meet the children, their parents, and the teachers. There was an orientation where the renovation was explained and the new school supplies distributed. It was also a time to talk about the next steps for the project – ideas for professional development for the teachers and a pen-pal program for the children.

John receives gift from children

John receives his gift of appreciation from the children

After the orientation, the children presented the St. John’s volunteers – Damien, John, and Mark – with gifts to thank them for all their work.

Day 8 – Friday

What a week it has been! With many energetic workers and a few days, we’ve been able to give a real rejuvenation to Sandy Bay public school. With the attractive new facilities and the memories of enthusiastic volunteers, it surely will be a boost to the children who will be studying and learning there in a few days.

Orientation meeting for students and parents

Children and their parents attend the orientation meeting for the new school year. It's a time to learn about all the changes that they'll find in September.

Of course more remains to be done. For the building, the roof needs urgent attention, and for the children, we will be setting to work this fall with initiatives like organizing pen pals between St. John’s and Sandy Bay.

Day 9 – Saturday

Briar installing a tile in a bathroom

Many hands helped to get the job done on time. Here, Briar installs the last tile.

A day to rest and unwind following the successful completion of what we set out to do. It was also a time to thank Michelle and Glen McDonald for their hospitality in accommodating the volunteers during their week and a half in Jamaica.

Day 10 – Sunday

Work clothes and sweat are all that remain

It looks like the reason Mark is not on the flight home is because the strenuous work in the heat of Jamaica was too much and he melted away.

Time to say goodbye and head to Montego Bay for the flight back home. All the volunteers from St. John’s except for Mark returned on late Sunday afternoon.

Post Script

The volunteers did so much work – did they also finally get a chance to enjoy the beach and the warm ocean waters while in Sandy Bay?

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