Lessons from the Batey by Joni Wilson
My most enjoyable experience was on day 4. It was a real eye opening experience to feel all the different emotions brought on by all of the different aspects of the batty way of life. This was the first batty we went to and we had Larrni, Glorietta, Marie, Jacob, Jorja, Isaac and I from our team and Julisa and another lady from the church, helping us.
The morning started the same as every other morning with breakfast around 7:30. Then we all loaded on Freddie’s bus and headed out to begin our day. Our first stop was to pick up some lunch to take with us to the batey, for the residents to enjoy. When we got there I couldn’t even belief what I saw. Two or three totes were loaded onto the bus. They were all full of beans and rice. This was a major culture shock as you would never see this here. It wasn’t individually packaged; it was actual totes full of rice and beans!
We finally got to the batey we were responsible for a group of 33 preschool aged children. We did several different activities including singalongs, advent cubes, duck duck goose, but my favorite was the craft we made with the children. I was able to have some burger king crowns donated and brought them with us from Canada. The children were able to decorate the back side of the crowns with different jewels and stickers. We then put them together and they were able wear them. The smile on the children’s faces was priceless. While watching the children and seeing how happy they were I noticed all the Mothers and Grandmothers peeking in the windows. I could tell by their smiles, laughter and whispers that seeing their children experiencing such joy was more fulfilling for them then it was for us. We were told that this was one of the poorest batey’s but in my eyes it was the happiest.
We then served the rice and beans for lunch. Before packing up a little boy and I went around with a garbage bag and picked up all the garbage we could find. When we were done the little boy disappeared for a few moments, I then seen him emerge from the back of one of the building. I was kind of puzzled as to where the garbage bag had gone, so I then myself walked around to the back of the same building to see that he had gone and dumped the entire bag of garbage we had just collected onto a community garbage pile. This was part of a consistent message of how we take things for granted back home. We had lots of extra food leftover after lunch, so the people were able to bring pots from their homes and take some rice and beans back to feed their families the next day. We still had some left and were able to stop on our way out and give some lunch to the men working in the sugarcane fields.
I have reflected on this day over and over in my mind and with my husband and every time I feel that we truly made difference in their lives. This difference was not the material things we brought to them but the joy that the experience brought to their lives on that day. The fact that they are so happy and filled with joy over the simple things in life and don’t focus on the negative or what they don’t have was truly inspiring.