Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello from Jamaica!

This guy was really friendly, but I think he just wanted to share a smoke.  He had a huge joint the size of a large finger.  Hence the smile on his face.  This is more of the exception.  Jamaicans think of Rastas as the rebels in the community.  They are considered dirty and crazy.  Most people are clean cut and smoke smaller joints
Travis is in Jamaica, off filming, meeting people, not smoking weed, being brave and likable to all, and *sniffle* not being here with me.
I was very worried for him to go, because he isn't in tourist, resort Jamaica. He's in Kingston Jamaica, which is the murder capitol of the world and where many of the people are very racist towards white people (and he is SUPER white).
But as always, Travis is making friends with unexpected people, forming bonds with some folks I would probably be terrified of meeting, and using our babies as an icebreaker. (Like, "Oh, how old is your baby? I have 7 month old twins!" and then people are like "Aw, how awesome! Let's talk of babies!" Because babies are a very universally loved thing.)

He sent home a nice long email, and some pictures (in which, he isn't featured a single time! Since he was behind the camera) and I thought you might like to see what he's up to:

Alley town

I thought I should let you all know that I am safe and sound here in Jamaica.  It is not easy being away from you all and I wish I could be there with Becky and the boys but I do think that the work that is going on here in Jamaica is a good excuse to be away.  
So we were hired by Fairbourne Consulting to come and document the work that they are doing.  They were hired basically by the Jamaican government, backed by the Interamerican Development Bank.  We will be meeting with them in DC to talk about future projects for them. So Fairbourne was hired to create micro-franchises, which is what they do.  They come in, do an assessment by talking with people in the communities about their needs, their wants, what they buy, what they sell, what is good, what is bad, etc and find businesses that fit those needs.  They brand and market that business as a small micro-franchise.  All of the power (purchasing, marketing, branding) of a large entity but small, scalable, effective, and smart.  They hope to have 100 youth employees within 6 months in a specific micro franchise.  So we are going around, working with the local government who is working with youth groups who is working with community empowerment centers, etc all the way down the line.  This gives us (a larger entity working with the government) a very local presence, like we are working directly for that small community.  

We stop and talk to local business owners about their business.  What they sell, what they buy, what is popular, what is not, how much they make, etc.  People are very open and helpful.  They are very entrepreneurial as well.  They do what they have to to get by.  
Anywho...  It has been awesome so far.  We have gone places that Americans or white people very rarely go.  Heck, even Jamaicans are like, "I don't go there.  You went there?!"  The really neat thing is that it is very safe because we are with the youth.  There has not been any incident at all.  Not that we are not cocky.  We make sure to go at good hours.  That we are out before dark.  That we have a larger youth group with us with at least one community member for every consultant/filmguy there.  That way we can look out for each other.  But it is safe.  I have met some really wonderful people.  The Jamaicans are very skeptical at first, but really warm up fast.  They live hard lives, often violent lives, but are very filled with faith and hope for the future.  It is always inspiring to see that.  It is very humbling.  
This is downtown Kingston.  I strapped a GoPro camera to my chest and walked around.  I guess it was kind of inconspicuous... I don't know.  People didn't ask me about it.  Downtown is one huge crazy informal market.  Kind of fun.
Anyways, on the lighter side.  They do love Reggae music.  They do smoke ALOT of weed.  We get offered some daily.  Everybody has it.  We are careful not to go into houses that smell a certain way (no hot boxing).  They love to joke.  They have pretty much two languages.  English and Patois (pronounced paa-twa).  They speak English to us (with the thick Jamaican accent) and they speak Patois and a mix of English to each other.  It is crazy to hear.  You can't understand them at all.  Kind of cool.  Things are about the same price as they are in the US.  $1USD equals about $85Jamaican.  Lunch costs about $350 Jamaican.  ish.  

I love you all. Thanks for your support and prayers!

Before we go out, we have a meeting with the group for a couple reasons.  One is to get them stoked about what we are doing and teach them about it.  The second reason is to make sure enough youth show up to allow us to go out.  Youth is ages 18-29 in this instance


Angela said...

This is such a great thing to read about! My husband and I went to Jamaica for our honeymoon...ya know...on the "safe" side of the island...but quite honestly, the streets look the same as they do in these images. The people are pretty destitute. They live hard lives, but you can't usually tell based on their dispositions (which may be because of joy...or maybe cuz of weed.) Outside of the resorts, everything in Jamaica looks the same. The drivers are terrible. There are always goats on the side of the road...or in the road. Lots of people have dreds. I hate Bob Marley music after spending a week there, but I love Bryan Adams music played on a steel drum and sung by some locals. That was awesome. :-)

I'l continue to keep Travis and his crew in my prayers! I'm happy to know that God is taking care of them and keeping them out of harm's way, thus far!


Celia said...

Travis is so great. I enjoyed reading his email and hearing about what he is doing there. I'm excited to see the movie once it is done!

(also, you deserve all sorts of awards for staying at home with two infants while your husband is working in JAMAICA)