About Me

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Kingston, Jamaica
You can email me at crrorke@yahoo.ca or find me on Skype at coreena.rorke

Friday, February 11, 2011

Impossible is Nothing...

A little something I organized in my spare time...
The article below was published in the local newspaper.

Youth Opportunities Unlimited proves that “Impossible is Nothing!”

While watching a surf competition at the beach one afternoon, Coreena Rorke, a Canadian volunteer with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), and her friend Steph Lindgard, a Canadian volunteer at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) wondered what else was going on down the beach from the competition. It appeared to be a beach clean-up…and in fact it was! As part of the surf competition, the Jamaican Surf Association encourages the participants to help clean the beach of garbage while they were waiting their turn in the water. Coreena and Steph didn’t hesitate to help out, and wondered why they didn’t do a similar event with their respective organizations? With that simple question, plans for a joint project began to take shape.

The girls then took the appropriate steps to ensure that the directors of their organizations gave their endorsement, and began the hunt for sponsors. Mrs. Georgia W. Lewis-Scott, Executive Director of ‘YOU’ was ecstatic about the idea and offered her full support! Soon after, Lasco Foods was on board, and the timing perfectly coincided with their Annual LASCO/JCF Police Officer of the Year Competition, as the officers would be spending a week in Kingston to get involved in social project within the communities.

On the morning of Monday, February 7th 2011, close to 20 youth from the Mountain View community, who are taking part in the YOU/CSJP (Citizens Security and Justice Program) gathered at the office of ‘YOU’. Roselyn Stewart of St. John’s Ambulance volunteered her time to ensure everyone’s safety, and Mr. Makfarley from C.M.I. volunteered his services to transport the group to Lighthouse Beach on the Palisadoes. Upon arrival, a youth proclaimed, “Wow, it looks like all of the garbage of Kingston was dumped on this beach in anticipation of our event today, this is going to be impossible!” Steph from C.M.I. explained that this wasn’t far from the truth and that in actual fact, if we all made an effort to properly dispose of our garbage, it would not end up on our streets; wash into our gullies, and then down to the ocean before washing back up on our beaches and damaging our fragile eco-system.

It was amazing to see the amount of garbage that was collected over the next couple hours. Numerous bags of plastic drinking bottles were gathered to be returned to CMI as part of their newly launched recycling program and countless bags of waste was placed into a dumpster to be taken away.

The Youth of Mountain View were energetic and took a sense of pride in their work as they quickly saw the transformation on the beach. The police interacted smoothly with the youth, and smiles were endless!

After a delicious lunch provided by Lasco, the Officer of the Year nominees each gave a motivational talk to the youth. The message was clear that with hard work, integrity and dedication ‘anything is possible!’ With the work completed, a beach football match broke out between the youth and police officers – the score remains unknown, but after what they accomplished together, and the level of joy in the atmosphere, they were all winners!

At the end of the day a strong bond had been forged between the youth and the police officers and as the buses pulled away not only was there a clean beach left behind but another reason to be proud Jamaicans and to have pride in Jamaica!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I had a fabulous holiday season. I spent Christmas in Honduras visiting my friend Ben from Australia (he is teaching scuba diving in Roatan). Then the 2 of us went to Costa Rica for New Years to spend time with our friends from Vancouver who just moved down there. It was a much needed vacation.

Since my return to Kingston I have barely seen the light of day...

I facilitated a Strategic Planning Workshop last week with the Board of Directors, so ALL of my energy and sanity for the month of January went into preparing for that. It was a total success!!!! That was the biggest hurdle of my project here, now I have a few more wrap-up sessions planned with the Board and Staff, and then my focus will be on ensuring the Strategic Planning process and implementation continues after my departure (sustainability). This is the most gratifying work I have done in a very long time, I just wish I could be here to see where all this hard work is going to take the organization in the next year! I guess I will have to come back and visit, oh darn!

As for the rest of my adventures down here...

I still try to escape the chaos of Kingston when I can. A friend of mine from Canada arrived last week. I met him in Montego Bay, we then traveled down to Negril, and took the coastal route back to Kingston. I have officially traveled the entire circumference of this island, and seen more of Jamaica then most of the Jamaicans...at least that is what they all tell me. I have been blessed with the friendship of many local that are more then excited to show me the intimate little secrets of their island, that most tourist would never experience. I traveled into "The Hills" to visit where my neighbor grew up. Most homes are occupied by 5 generations of family, many have never left; great-grand-parents, grand-parents, parents, kids (my generation), and grand-kids...keep in mind many start families very young here (one of my colleagues is a grandmother at 36 years old)! Running water is more common now, as is electricity, everyone knows your business before you know it yourself, and the sense of community and trust is really heartwarming.

My friends arrival has been such a wonderful gift! Not only is it nice to have a taste of home, but through him, I get to witness all of the same emotions [in him] that I experienced when I first arrived. I now realize how much I have learned and grown since my arrival...amazing!

Last Friday, the Executive Director (and great friend) of Y.O.U. took me on a "Field Trip" to the Blue Mountains (Holywell National Park). When I previously imagined Jamaica, mountains were the furthest thing on my mind, however, I am officially more impressed with this aspect of Jamaica then I am with the beaches...well...almost! HAHA! The mountains are breath taking. There are so many rivers and waterfalls and a few guest houses perched on cliff sides, definitely off the beaten track! I plan to make a trip up to the peak, back-packing of course, before my departure. Oh, and the coffee from the Blue Mountain region is like nothing I have ever tasted...Starbucks eat your heart hear out!

I have now passed the halfway point of my adventure down here...the remaining few months are going to be very busy and are going to pass by far TOO QUICKLY!!!