Coming out of the pandemic, we are working more closely with school and church partners committed to Learn, Serve, and Grow with our scholars in developing nations throughout the entire year.  David’s reflection, below, gives a sense of what that feels like for students at the University of Toledo.

Mike Tenbusch, IntSam President

The bustling cities and towns set against the rising backdrop of the jaw-dropping Blue Mountains stunned me as I exited the airport. The glimmering reflections of sunlight dancing on the surface of the crystal blue ocean sent a shiver down my spine as we drove by the shores. These simple beauties erased the preconceptions I had before arriving in Jamaica.

The Blue Mountains, the longest mountain range in Jamaica.

And then we drove to the garbage dump in Riverton City. I thought I was prepared to see this poverty-stricken city. I was not. Instead of the picturesque Blue Mountains, the enormous garbage piles stretched forever. Instead of street vendors selling art and food, the people of Riverton City sold scrap metals scavenged from the dump site. A typical bustling city was replaced by throngs of garbage trucks lining up at the entrance, carrying tons of trash collected throughout Kingston waiting to be disposed of—dumped in piles on top of more garbage.

The edge of the Riverton dump, where it bleeds into the community.

It was astonishing to see how united and organized the community in Riverton City was. The people seemed happy, and the children were thriving under the loving care of educators and families supported by International Samaritan’s leaders. On the last day of our working trip, I realized the people you surround yourself with help define you. Their bright smiles and encouragement gave me hope for the future and the desire to learn more and to work with them. Resilience against adversity is an admirable quality of the human race that I was grateful to witness.

While the Blue Mountains were magnificent, and words can’t describe the garbage mounds, the 3,500 Jamaican people who live near the garbage dump in Riverton City touched me the most. Following this incredible life-changing experience, my classmates and I are relaunching the University of Toledo’s chapter of International Samaritans for Jamaica. Our relationship will benefit both countries as we support Riverton City’s people by creating awareness and raising needed funds to support the community. We are creating a book of “Found Art” jewelry projects that the people of Riverton City can make, and we can help sell to raise funds. This trip is only the beginning.

David (center in the blue shirt) with both his University of Toledo classmates and IntSam scholars.

What are Service Immersions?

Service immersion trips are part of our Learn, Serve, Grow program to create and strengthen year-long partnerships among schools and churches in the US with the communities we serve in developing nations. Thanks to the leadership of IntSam board member Dr. Page Armstrong through the years, the University of Toledo Honors Program and Professor Ashley Pryor are working on a business plan to provide ongoing support that they will present to IntSam leaders in Jamaica.

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