Forget Pics for the Gram, Sometimes You Just Need to Give Back

Travel is great. You get to experience different cultures, try new foods, slay in your 2 piece swimsuit. I mean, it's hard to find a lot of negatives as to why you shouldn't travel.  Especially being a citizen of North America, I can literally travel  anywhere in the world without issue. Sometimes as North Americans we have to remember that not everyone has the same opportunities.  Some people go their whole lives never experiencing  another country but their own. So while we travel, and strive to get that perfect instagram shot, sometimes we need to leave a country a little richer than they were before. Not necessarily by using our tourist dollars to tip the locals, but by investing our time, our energy, and our love. It's not always about great pics for the gram, sometimes you just have to give back.

  Students at Trinityville Primary in Jamaica     Photo Credit: Dwayne Morgan

Students at Trinityville Primary in Jamaica

Photo Credit: Dwayne Morgan

Five years ago, I was sitting around the kitchen table with my now late Grandmother, and she was talking about some of her greatest accomplishments (I was not one of them!) Ha! I kid.... I really was the best thing that ever happened to her. She told me that for over 10 years,  every year she would choose a school in St Thomas Jamaica (the parish that she's from), get her church folks together to volunteer  and cook a huge meal for each student. When I asked how she felt a cooked meal would benefit the children, she went on to tell me that some children don't go to school some days because they have no breakfast or lunch money. Some don't get to register for school because their parents can't afford the school fees or the cost of the uniform.  And some children don't even have a pencil that they can call their own. This is a sad reality for many children living in the Caribbean. It's hard to imagine this kind of life when most of us are sipping on  our rum punches, and doing the limbo at our 4/5 star hotels in Jamaica. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking anyone who takes vacations at these hotels, I do it too. We work hard, and we need the break for our mental health.  But while we're basking in paradise, people beyond the gates are suffering.

  My volunteers serving lunch for the students

My volunteers serving lunch for the students

  Lunch is served! Yummmm!

Lunch is served! Yummmm!

After speaking to my Grandma, I knew that I had a calling. I had always wanted to do some sort of volunteer work in Jamaica, but I never knew how to get started. Unbeknownst to me, my Grandma was the link all along. With her guidance, I jumped on her volunteer initiative. For the past 5 years, I've fundraised, and shipped barrels full of school supplies for students in Jamaica. I cannot stress enough, that this is only possible because of the generosity and support by you guys. Yearly, you guys ask me what's needed, you show up with bags full of pens and pencils, and you donate money.  I am extremely grateful.  I might be the one blessed with being able to travel and experience what the world has to offer, but my give back is all because of you.

  Look at the little cuties peeking in the window! They were so excited!

Look at the little cuties peeking in the window! They were so excited!

This year we went to Trinityville Primary. This school has 300 students registered.  I was extra excited because this year was the first year that I had family and friends from Toronto come to volunteer their time. A side note: How special are your friends, when every year they donate money or supplies to your initiative, and then this year they decide that they want to come and volunteer their time and show you support!!! I have the greatest friends. My dream is to actually bring more people yearly. I want to plan a group trip, the emphasis would be on volunteering but it would also include a few tours so my guests can get more familiar with the real Jamaica, not just the tourist version. There is a lot more to Jamaica than Dunn's River Falls!

  The Toronto crew!

The Toronto crew!

  My brother Dwayne and my niece E who came to volunteer for the first time!

My brother Dwayne and my niece E who came to volunteer for the first time!

  My niece making friends. I'm glad that she was able to see how other children experience school.

My niece making friends. I'm glad that she was able to see how other children experience school.

  I was addressing the children before handing out the school supplies. They were hanging off my every word....uhmmm It might not look like it, but seriously they were!

I was addressing the children before handing out the school supplies. They were hanging off my every word....uhmmm It might not look like it, but seriously they were!

Travel might not be everyone's passion, and that's cool. But I'm hoping giving of yourself is. Like my boo O says (well that's Oprah to you guys, but I imagine us as best friends.  I call her O, she calls me World Boss, we paint each other's nails and talk about how we're going to take over the world....sigh)  A girl can dream right?  Ha! I love this quote from Oprah, and I really want you guys to take it in:

 

       ”Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death. Your life is speaking to you every day all the time – and your job is to listen up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you through your feelings, beckoning you towards your highest good. Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected, stimulated – what gives you your juice. Do what you love, give it back in the form of service, and you will do more than succeed. You will triumph."                      -Oprah

 

I can't even explain the awesome feeling of seeing these little children's faces light up when they see that they're getting gifts from abroad. If such a small gift can motivate at least one child to stay in school and dream  big, isn't it worth it?

  Photo Credit: Dwayne Morgan

Photo Credit: Dwayne Morgan

  Putting my niece to work!

Putting my niece to work!

As travelers, influencers, and human beings, I urge you to find your passion. When you do find your passion; Please Give.

  A special shoutout to poets Randy McLaren and Dwayne Morgan who performed for the kiddies. They loved it!

A special shoutout to poets Randy McLaren and Dwayne Morgan who performed for the kiddies. They loved it!

This post is dedicated to my late Grandmother Minister Maud Taylor; You are physically gone, but your work will always continue through me.

  My wonderful Grandparents. I learned to be of service from them.

My wonderful Grandparents. I learned to be of service from them.