Ignacio Volunteers return from intense international service trip
Loyola press release - June 22, 2009
Twenty-four Loyola University New Orleans students participating in the Ignacio Volunteers Program recently returned from two separate service immersion trips to Kingston, Jamaica. The two groups, led by Director of University Ministry Kurt Bindewald and Associate Chaplain Josh Daly, left New Orleans shortly after commencement in May to work with disadvantaged youth and elderly in poverty-stricken areas of the Caribbean island.
Volunteers spent almost two weeks working with the elderly at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity home for the destitute and dying and with at-risk youth at the Early Childhood Education Centre at Riverton City, a shanty town built next to the Kingston city garbage dump. Volunteers also worked at St. Monica’s home for the elderly in Spanishtown and tutored youth at St. Margaret’s Community Center in Kingston. Two local Jamaican graduates of St. George’s College, a Jesuit secondary school in Kingston, worked alongside them in their service work.
The volunteers, who were chosen through a competitive application process, spent the spring semester preparing for the trip intellectually, financially and spiritually, learning about Jamaican culture and the people they would serve, fundraising for travel and participating in local community service. The students were required to attend an overnight retreat and day of service prior to the Jamaica trip.
The goal of the program is to provide an international volunteer service opportunity for Loyola students while exposing them to pressing economic and sociological issues in the Caribbean and the developing world.
“I went to Jamaica expecting to give as much of myself as possible to the people I would serve,” said volunteer Norma Hernandez, “but in the end they gave me more than I could ever give them.”
“Kingston forces your eyes open and forces you to keep them open,” said volunteer Heather Malveaux. “I truly had a life-altering experience this trip, one that I am extremely grateful for.”
Director Josh Daly agrees.
“Our trip to Jamaica this May was everything I could have hoped for an Ignacio Volunteers trip to be. It challenged us to look at our own privilege and to face the realities of poverty in the developing world,” Daly said.
“But it gifted us even more: to dedicate ourselves more to loving and humble service, to deepen our commitment to global solidarity and to reflect on the call of faith to respond to these realities with all of who we are. We return with hearts full of gratitude and a hunger to change the world.”
Further trips to Jamaica and Belize and other possible locations are planned for 2009-2010.