Wednesday, July 15, 2009

June 1

Monday was my first actual day of work with RADA. RADA is the Rural Agricultural Development Authority; there is a branch of RADA in every parish in Jamaica. RADA works with local farmers through their extension officers. There are about eight officers in the parish of St. Thomas Parish. They talk with individuals and educate them about sustainable farming practices. The extension officers also introduce farmers to different services and resources the farmers have access to. This year RADA needed students to help them develop an informational packet about preparing for natural disasters. I was really excited to start this project because I really wanted to be immersed into the culture and talking to local farmers every day seemed like a great way to fulfill that want. I was also happy to discover that I could implement my photojournalism and design background into my final project with RADA.
Mr. Parke drove Dr. Dorne, Lindsey, Mark and I to a small bush called Bowen. Bowen is a small inlet with few residents. We visited an oyster farm in the inlet and also a coast guard barracks. We talked to the oyster farmers about possible problems when large storms hit; we also learned the basic methodology of oyster farming. As for our visit with the coast guard, we mostly just chatted about their role in the community and country. The officers explained to me that they reside at a different post each week and then they have off for a week. They all said they loved their job and realize that they are role models for residents in the communities. A lot of children I talked to, both male and female, said they wanted to be soldiers when they grew up. The officers think it is because they see the coast guard as a beneficial influence in their lives, so in turn the kids want to be that powerful influence. Below is a view of the oyster farms from the mountain side in the Bowen Inlet.

Below are the gorgeous views that the officers of the coast guard enjoy looking out upon day after day.After leaving the coast guard we drove through fields that were once sugar plantations. The sugar cane isn't very successful in this area anymore because the soil is completely derived of nutrients. Through the blades of grass you can see a former plantation owner's home. It is situated on a hillside so that the masters could see everything the slaves were doing, but in turn it allowed the slaves to watch their every move.

After driving through the old plantation fields we stopped in another bush and talked to some locals. I met a stand lady who lived in Philadelphia for five years and a group of adorable school children. I also snuck up behind Mr. Parke and shot this photo, which is one of my favorite of him. Although I wasn't aware of it yet, Mr. Parke would teach me more than anyone else I would meet in Jamaica.

By the time we caught a bus back to Yallahs, the local schools had let out, so we boarded a bus packed with primary school students. One of them was sleepy and drifted to bed on Lindsey's shoulder. All the kids in the back seat thought it was the funniest thing in ages. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture, but my noisy SLR woke him up. He looked so embarrassed that I felt bad for taking the picture. In the upcoming weeks I realized how easily I fell asleep in taxis. I actually woke up on people's shoulders a few times myself. I remember the one time I was sitting with another man in the backseat and when I woke up I was super close to him and he just laughed. I moved away only to wake up ten minutes later to find myself really close to him again; he must have had some type of magnetic pull over me.

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