Jamaica is often thought of as a vacation paradise with sandy white beaches, ocean breezes, palm trees and happy people who smile all the time and sip from drinks with umbrellas served in hollowed out coconuts. That is what the department of tourism would have you believe, anyways. Truth is, Jamaica has excellent tourism and around the Kingston area there is great wealth and it does look like all the travel brochures and the people who are native Jamaicans have a very nice quality of life.
However, for the rest of the island, there is extreme poverty. Saint Mary’s Parish, our travel destination, is the poorest parish in Jamaica. The average resident lives in a 10’ x 20’ house (hut) with no running water or electricity. There are little to no governmental assistance programs to meet the education and nutritional needs of the people. There is no transportation system to take children to and from school, so if a family wants their children educated they must barter for transportation or the children must walk…sometimes many miles, to attend school. The teen pregnancy rate is very high and there is a high prevalence of single, young, uneducated women raising multiple children alone because the teenaged father did not stick around and own up to the responsibility of parenting a child. Because of the low education rate of mothers, there are high infant mortality rates. There is a universal healthcare system, but the young mothers are not literate enough to work their way through the system to access the prenatal medical care they need. All major necessities are imported into Jamaica, including food. All the best farmable land is owned by wealthy corporations and used to grow sugarcane, bananas, coffee and citrus fruits.
Due to tourism and plantation farming, land prices in Jamaica are very high and paid workers earn very little. Skilled laborers can expect to earn about $125 a week. Teachers earn around $100 a week. So, the disparity between extreme wealth and abject poverty is quite large. Jamaica’s middle-class population is practically non-existent. Jamaica is a third-world country in almost every sense of the word. The need is great, and yet this need is rarely recognized by the developed world because the only view we ever see is the view from a cruise ship or a beach chair.
Our youth would like to go to Jamaica to work with organizations seeking to alleviate some of the need that is so great on this beautiful island. They ask for your support in helping them to realize this dream and they ask for your love and prayers as they travel as representatives of this congregation. Mission experiences have the potential to be life-changing events in the lives of our young ones. The work that God can do in the heart of a person as they seek to be God’s working body in the world is nothing less than spectacular.
Join us and offer your donations to our cause as we have fellowship and fun throughout the year working to raise money for this excursion.