A Glimpse of His’ Jamaica
Why just a glimpse? Because words carry categorizations, concepts, and definitions of what I’ve been experiencing in Jamaica. Ironically, this is exactly the thing Jamaica had been putting an emphasis on during my stay: to let go of the descriptive. Just be. Experience.
I’ve noticed, while scrolling around through the other blog entries on this lovely website, that spirituality is quite present among people here, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have its influence on me, and thus on my writings down below. This is my plea for the Maker Lab, in collaboration with di ISL. These are my impressions, taken to another level, in order to make people understand that this initiative is so relevant and to be supported.
What did I learn? What did I experience? What are my impressions, after having spent almost (and “only”) six weeks of my life in the environment of Kingston, Jamaica?
When I got to start working with Christie and Tony, from a distance, helping filling in and structuring funding application forms, I kept bouncing on the need for data on “impact” and measuring “progress” or “change.” Projects are deemed to be “successful” if they can prove the impact of their efforts.
But this raises the following questions, in my mind. If we mention development work – in which the Foundation situates itself with the aim to be active in deprived urban areas in various regions all over the world – what is it we have in mind? Is it the idea of “providing” “progress”? Or “supporting” “change” through technologies and intellectual concepts that the so-called “beneficiaries” “benefit” from? Is it making these persons subjects, and by doing that, stressing on these concepts (and others such as “third worlds”, “first worlds”, “social classes” and I can go on) becoming an even more graspable reality? Or confirming class systems and selling a so-called capitalistic “meritocracy”, based on (mostly) physical, social and economical attributes, with people from the “first world” “providing” “support”?
The reason why I got involved in this project of Metabolic Foundation and the reason why I believe in it, is because I witnessed honesty in the phrases “democratizing technology”, “building social leadership” and “community participation”. Christie, Tony, Uche, and Afifa share a certain view on development that is crucial to their partnership, friendship, unity and consistency, which, from my point of view, is based on wanting to understand, commit, experiment, and totally devote themselves to it. How are we able to build this trust-based involvement while having expectations for certain impacts to happen? Isn’t that just totally missing the point of growth and the “progress” we are aiming for?
Seeing and revealing the potential of participants, as Christie told me, is the only thing we can aim for if we want to do it right, together. Every single person (in and around Kingston) I’ve mentioned the project to reacted enthusiastically, and I wasn’t mentioning the impacts. People know and feel that it is a great initiative. It’s just common sense.
Afifa and Uche communicated that more commitment is needed, more love, more devotion towards these children and young adults. That is not something money can buy. It demands belief and trust of each person involved, also from the children and young adults, the so-called “beneficiaries”.
Seeing people having to struggle financially (and I mean seriously: struggle) in order to maintain this space is a pity, and this issue should be resolved. But it is great to acknowledge that even with the tiny financial support they have now, this space exists already! It’s alive, and kicking.
The point I want to make is that this project is proof of an initiative attempting to respond to needs. And let that initiative on itself, people taking the initiative to act, already be a response. It taught me to believe even more firmly in realizing what you really want to do, and being able to put your focus on the possibilities to do it, instead of focusing on the barriers, which are as present as the possibilities. It just depends on the focus, and willingness.
At the moment I’m working, together with Peter, on a documentation video about the project. I’ve been interviewing Uche, Afifa, Christie and Tony, with the focus on their perception, ideas and future wishes of and for the project. This could help us get more support, by giving a more “lively” impression. For the Foundation, I’ll have to take a step back since the position of a volunteer is difficult to maintain when I have to work on my own financial stability as well. But this experience marked me, and… I have a strong feeling we’ll meet again. And I’ll be working on it in my own way and possibilities.
Many thanks to Uche, Tony, Christie, Afifa, Gianni, Peter and Mira. And all the other lovely people I met during my stay.
–Hiske Hupperets is currently studying music composition theory in Amsterdam, and has been working with us remotely part time as an intern for several months. In August, she joined us in Jamaica for 6 weeks to finally meet us, help out with workshops, take some videos, and soak in a little bit of Jamaica.