Service Learning in Trinidad and Tobago

BY: JOSIE DOSS

 BETHANY, W.Va. – For spring break this year, I went to the wonderful country of Trinidad and Tobago. I went with seven other students from Bethany College, and two advisors. On this trip, we were going to do service work for the small village of Matelot.

 We took a flight out of Pittsburgh to Miami, then from Miami to the Port of Spain where we stayed for our first night at a bed and breakfast called Samise Villa. The owner was very kind to us and made sure we had everything that we needed.

The next morning we got on a bus and headed to Matelot, four hours away from the Port of Spain. As we kept travelling, the roads became worse, with numerous amounts of potholes that could swallow a cow. They also drive on the left side of the road there, which was pretty interesting. The closer we got to Matelot, the less populated things were. The closest gas station and market to the village was 45 minutes away.

Once we arrived, the girls stayed at the River House, and the boys stayed at the Guest House. The Guest House is where we ate all of our meals, so we had to walk 15 minutes uphill to get food. It was very tiring but became easier as the week went on.

The women who cooked and cared for us were a group called the Dorcus Women. They formed together through the Amizade Program to help better their community and make it a better place for everyone. Buela, the main woman in charge, owned the only house in the village that had Wifi. We stopped there once a day to contact our parents briefly.

Each day we did new service work. We made flower boxes from wood. We had to cut the wood, drill holes, stack them together, and then nail them together. After that we painted them orange and green. We also made flower bottles from pop bottles by cutting out the centers and placing wires through them so they could hang. We painted a mural of a boat on one of the rock walls, and finished another mural project with a tree. We painted white and green stripes on the curbs of the roads. We also cut PVC pipe into pieces, dug holes to put them into, then poured concrete in the holes to make them stay. The next group of students coming in after us was going to paint them and plant flowers in them.

Aside from service work, we got to do tourist activities too. We played in the river and the ocean, we watched a seven-foot leatherback sea turtle lay her eggs on the beach, we went to a bird sanctuary, went on a five mile hike through the rain forest, and Michele, one of the Dorcus Women, taught us how to make African head wraps.

Unfortunately, the trip had to come to a close and we headed back for America. The whole trip was a great experience and one that I will never forget. We have so much in America, while they only have the things that they absolutely need in life. We have hot running water, they do not. We have shoes on our feet, a lot of them do not. Their houses are put together from whatever they can find, with multiple holes in them. We live in nice, cozy, air conditioned homes. You realize how truly blessed you are by visiting other places around the world. 

 

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