This was not the first time I have gone on a service trip abroad, but this was by far the best experience I have had. The trip is organized in the best way possible. I could not have spent my spring break in a better way. I am very glad that I chose to go with ISL. — , George Washington University
Jamaica is extremely mountainous, with a central chain of mountains running east to west, forming a backbone through the middle of the island. Nearly half of the island’s area is over 300 m (1000 feet) above sea level. The highest point is Blue Mountain Peak, on the border between Portland and St. Thomas, at 2256 m (7402 feet). The average annual rainfall for the entire island is 195.8cm (77.1 inches). Rainfall peaks in May and October, and is at its lowest levels in March and June. The Blue Mountain range and the northeast coast receive the highest annual rainfall, the average being about 330 cm (130 inches).
Known for its strong sense of self identity expressed through its music, food and rich cultural mix, Jamaica’s influence extends far beyond its shores. The island is also known for its beauty, political stability and plentiful resources in the form of bauxite and sugar. Surrounded by the blue waters of the Caribbean, Jamaica is a popular tourist destination and is home to some of the world’s most remarkable beaches and waterfalls. What most people do not know is that just minutes inland from the beachside resorts exists communities of extreme poverty that are in dire need of help. Many innocent men, women and children who fall victim to such poverty typically live in shacks or are homeless and bare the harshest of living conditions.
Volunteers to Jamaica arrive at the Manley International Airport in Kingston (KIN) and are met by their team leader after they have cleared customs. Team housing is located about an hour from the airport. Work site locations vary from approximately five minutes to half-an-hour from housing accommodations.
Recreational activities may include visiting a beautiful white sand beach or swimming in Dunn’s River Falls.
ISL has strict housing standards for cleanliness, safety and comfort. In Jamaica, volunteers stay at a modest hotel in May Pen. Each volunteer shares a room and shower facilities, but has their own bed. Housing locations are selected according to proximity to program sites. ISL staff members stay with volunteers and are always available 24/7.
- Internet is available at most housing locations. Volunteers are transported by their Team Leaders to an internet location periodically if internet is not available at their hotel.
- Laundry services are provided at least once a week for a small charge.
- If food or drug stores aren’t nearby, Team Leaders make sure volunteers are transported to shopping areas periodically or as needed.
- ISL provides breakfast each day, unless otherwise specified in the team itinerary.
Jamaica has a slew of recreational opportunities available to volunteers. It could be visiting the underground caves at Green Grotto located in Discovery Bay on the north coast. Volunteers might end up going to Apple Valley which is an inland attraction in St. Elizabeth. There are also plenty of natural mineral springs for a mineral bath.
Perhaps it’ll be going to Dunn’s River, where once a volunteer has finished climbing the falls they can spend the rest of the day at the beach, and soak and swim in the warm Caribbean Sea. There is also White River Reggae Park for boat rides and other attractions. Volunteers can also go to Mystic Mountain which has a zipline, among other things. These opportunities and so many others are available for our wonderful volunteers.