On Tuesday, November 18th, we had the task of blessing our second house. We started the day by taking the familiar hour long drive to Dennery. We arrived at the house on time, even after getting stuck behind several slow moving trucks on the winding mountain roads that make up the route to the house. This house happened to be the second that Good News has built for this family. The blessing was scheduled for 1:00 PM, but because the family didn’t show after 30 minutes of waiting, the collective verdict was to pack up, and leave the keys with one of the neighbors.
As we were pulling out of the driveway, the father of the children, Vino, finally arrived, without the rest of the family. As Vino explained to us, his girlfriend, Tamara, was at home recovering from a dental procedure, and without the extra set of hands it would be hard to get the two children to the house site. The children, Jonathon and Katiana, have severe physical disabilities that prevent them from walking on their own. This house blessing had a very different feel to it then the previous one, Vino had a hurry-up-and-go attitude, and it seemed that he wanted to take the keys and run.
We went through the ceremony as planned and everyone shared a sentiment with Vino just as we did in the last house blessing. We gave him the traditional Good News gifts of bread, water, salt, and a small gift basket, each of which he accepted with a smile. At the end of the ceremony the respective parties went their separate ways. The Good News team was uncertain of how to feel about the blessing because the whole thing was very uncomfortable. Also, there was little, if no, celebratory mood at the event, which was a stark contrast to what we experienced at our first house blessing. While we were glad that we could help this family in need, it would have been more comforting to see the whole family, and not just the father.
On Wednesday the 19th we hit the road to Dunnottar, a school for kids with special needs that provides care and education for ages 5 – 25. The students have varying disabilities such as Down Syndrome, and Autism. The mission at Dunnottar is to “enhance skills and foster abilities through creative programs” so that “every child can learn”.
Although some of us were nervous to spend the day at the school due to our lack of experience with people with special needs, we jumped right into making bracelets and necklaces with some of the middle school students. This exercise was to help the kids build their dexterity and bring out their creativity.
After a quick lunch break, we headed outside to play some fun games with the students. The activities included playing catch with an American football, tossing around a frisbee, and finally we were introduced to a Caribbean past time, cricket. It was rewarding to see how the kids progressed with each throw.
After the school bell rang, signaling the end of the day, the students left with smiles on their faces and the fruits of their labor hanging from their necks and wrists. To end our time at the school Laura lead a brief yoga session with the teachers, and the rest of the Good News volunteers. By the time the session was complete all participants were drenched in sweat due to the Caribbean heat. In the end we all left with a new outlook on people who are different than us. We learned that while the students may be mentally and physically challenged, their desire to learn and be accepted is not so different from our own.