Agent Mark: Field report from Jamaica
I’m just back from filming our first international video documentary on a non profit in Jamaica and every time I return from working on a new project – whether its helping a client with their project or getting involved first hand – I am reminded exactly why I became an Agent of Good.
I’ve seen my share of extreme poverty first-hand in places like Ethiopia, Uganda, El Salvador, Panama and Costa Rica and rolled up my sleeves to get involved in building wells and clean water projects, building homes and schools, or spending time with AIDS patients, disabled and elderly from all walks of life.
And every project I have seen or worked on I have learned that it always comes down to the people. Anyone who is impacted by any aid project has an incredible story to tell. Real stories of despair and hardships and, sometimes, of hope and inspiration.
I want to share an all to common scenario…
A young Jamaican woman struggles to survive with a degenerative disease and no way to make money to care for herself. She is uneducated and has almost no options so she falls into prostitution. She doesn’t consider contraception or know her options (or can’t afford them). She now has kids to feed and when they are barely old enough she sends them to the streets to beg for money. As the child gets older he isn’t as cute and not as successful at begging. She continues to bear children, each begging for money or finding other ways to get by. Years pass and she now has 8 kids and some are showing signs of the same degenerative disease she was born with.
Even though schooling is free they can’t work if they attend class. They can’t afford the uniforms or school supplies. Her kids are essentially wild. No education. No structure. No rules. They have never worn shoes or eaten with utensils (the family doesn’t have a table anyways). She expects her kids will find ways to support her and they become her retirement plan.
Her kids have no positive role models. They see the drug dealers cruising the streets in their cool cars with hot girlfriends and fall into the lifestyle.
Its a viscous cycle.
But this is where I see hope. Incredible individuals and groups are building homes and wells for clean water, providing education and making a real difference in their lives. They have dedicated themselves to helping others and they are the real inspiration.
Stay tuned. In the coming weeks we will be building our short youtube documentary on one small non profit to help them tell their story and showcase the great work they are doing to make life better for those in Jamaica.