Friday, September 17, 2010

How Jamaican Mission Program Began...

The original group that went to Jamaica in 2008

The following are a few  exerpts from our website explaining how our organization began ...

The Jamaican Mission Program was formed in 2008 by a group of 13 people interested in encouraging and supporting mission work in Jamaica.  The roots of the organization began when Bryan and Nichole Myers first visited Jamaica in 2003. During this vacation they noticed the beauty of the island and the kindness and generosity of the people.  They also noted the disparity between the wealth on the resorts and the poverty of the island.  They first returned to preform mission work in 2005.  These initial trips involved running a free medical clinic in Montego Bay and assisting at Westhaven and The Place of Safety.  They wanted to spread the personal rewards they received by working in Jamaica with others.  In 2008, they encouraged a group of 13 people from Richland Center, Wisconsin to come along and volunteer.  This group, pictured above, saw the same poverty but also witnessed the help and joy that a few volunteers can provide.  As a result, this organization was began to increase and support future interest in Jamaican Mission work. In 2009, the first JMP group consisted of 17 people who worked on multiple projects at Westhaven.

Information on Westhaven Orphanage

Westhaven Children’s Home is an orphanage for handicapped children in
. It was started in 1986 by a group who saw the need for a residential
facility to assist children with disabilities to reach their full potential.
The first cottage opened December 17, 1991, two more were opened in 1993,
and the fourth cottage was opened in 2003. There are currently four fully
operational cottages housing up to eighty children, ages three to twenty
seven years old, with a wide variety of abilities.  This varies from children
with mild cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, and mental retardation to children
with more profound handicaps.  Full time care givers at Westhaven provide all
necessary care including physical therapy and education. 

The home is located on a former sugar plantation in the city of Copse. Copse
is a small mountainous village outside of Montego Bay.  The drive from the
hotel takes about 45 minutes through some of the most beautiful scenery in
.  This former sugar plantation is also home to the

Copse Place
of Safety.

The ongoing operational costs of the home are supported, in part, by the
Jamaican Ministry of Health. However, the largest daily support comes from
continuing donations from local and overseas individuals and groups.
Sample Projects:

1) Daily cares:

Every morning, Westhaven staff must assist with bathing, dressing, and feeding all of the children.  This daily work involves up to 80 children with various disabilities.  Any help is appreciated.  Volunteers can help with bathing, dressing, feeding, caring for and loving these disabled orphans, aged 2 to 27.  Others may decide to spend time with the children; talking, playing, walking with, and listening are all great ways to help brighten up a child’s day.  Other volunteers will assist the Jamaican physical therapist in exercise programs for the children.  Volunteers with classroom skills can organize classroom teaching and learning activities. A schoolroom is available for the about fifteen children from Westhaven that regularly attend school.

2) Fifth cottage:
Volunteers began the construction of a 3,600 square foot fifth cottage in 2004. This long term project is designed for the older children at Westhaven and has been coordinated through The Westhaven Board of Director’s Building Committee. Over the last 4 years, volunteers from various organizations have dug and poured the foundation, built block walls, and started framing the roof.  In 2009, the JMP volunteers framed and paneled the interior walls of this cottage.

3) General maintenance:
As one can imagine, housing up to 80 children in a topical location with yearly hurricanes requires regular maintenance to the property.  This has recently included; roofing repairs, painting, replacing floor tiles, and other general repairs. In 2009, Rob Wanless repaired a dangerous metal gate and Micah Piasecki reframed new locking doors for the school.

4) Water tank:
With extra time in 2009, we built a 3 feet platform for the water storage tank to get it off the ground. The tank had been placed o the ground and since the washing machines are gravity fed, this obvious didn't work real well. We finished this project and were able to autograph the concrete slab.

I realize I could have written my own information about JMP but I think this sums things up so very well. There is more information on our website including our next trip date and approximate prices.  Also you will see that we use the term Vacation With A Purpose.  The week that we spend in Jamaica is not all spent at the orphage. We have 2 sight seeing days which is beneficial to  Jamaican tourism....not to mention that we have a wonderful time seeing some of the most breathtaking partsof the island. Feel free to spend some time on our site....we would love to hear what you think....

Today I feel silly so.....I dream for you the chance that somebody has already done the work for you so you can take time to play....just like Bryan and Nichole keeping up our website so I could just copy and paste.....thank you both for all you do and for including us in this journey!! Have a wonderful weekend friends.....

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