Blue Mountain Project
Blue Mountain Project is a nongovernmental organization helping rural communities on the island of Jamaica.
Blue Mountain Project is a grassroots nonprofit founded in 2004. They work directly with community members and volunteers in rural Jamaica to educate and empower their communities and create sustainable solutions. Their work focuses on five rural villages in the District of Hagley Gap, where the majority of the population relies on subsistence agriculture and clean water is scarce. Their team of staff and volunteers also serves as the Disaster Relief Organization for the area in the event of a natural disaster.
The work of the Blue Mountain Project is centered around 4 key programs:
- Clean Water: there is no clean water supply in Hagley Gap District, so water must be carried up steep hills to provide water for families. Unfortunately, the water sources are the same ones in which members of the community bathe, wash their clothes and wash their cars. As a result,there are many cases of parasitic infections and the long-term effects of exposure to chemical-tainted water (primarily lead) include developmental delay, vision problems, and even death. Currently the clean water project is in its earlier stages.
- Health: Until February 2006, when Blue Mountain Project opened its first health care facility in Hagley Gap, the only option for locals was a one hour bus ride, for which many had no money to pay. A second clinic was opened in 2008. These clinics are staffed by a local nurse and visiting medical teams from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. Services provided are as follows: basic first aid, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, physical exams, optometric are for the elderly, dentistry, HIV testing, malaria testing, pap smears and tuberculosis testing. In addition, medical attention is brought to the infirm and elderly who are unable to climb up and down the Blue Mountains to receive care in the clinics.
- Literacy: Blue Mountain Project supplements the Jamaican education system with a variety of projects including the following: literacy projects in three schools; an annual school-readiness event (Back 2 School Extravaganza) which includes music, food games and a the distribution of free school supplies; a summer camp (Fun Camp) for children ages 5-12 which provides lunches and uses the fine arts to teach sensitive topics to children; an after-school program for all ages (After-School Jam) which includes reading and tutoring as well as board games, dramatic play and computer lessons; volunteer groups who assist teachers by sharing new teaching techniques and substituting for teachers on occasion; a series of workshops teaching basic life skills, addressing topics ranging from family budgeting to first aid and energy conservation; a full-ride scholarship for two Jamaican students to attend Ripon College in return for four years of working for the Blue Mountain Project upon their return.
- Economic Development: this program develops the strengths and interests of members of the community. Initiatives include the following: a farmers’ cooperative through which farmers find markets and bargain for better prices and enjoy benefits associated with the status including government sponsored training; eco-weave bags made by the Blue Mountain Diamond Women’s Group which collects plastic bags that litter the countryside and crotchets bags from them; bed and breakfast, where local families host Service Learning Volunteers.
If you are traveling to Jamaica and want to learn more about the Blue Mountain Project, and how you can get involved, including how you can volunteer, click here.
Photo credit: Blue Mountain Project Facebook.