Monday, April 03, 2006

Fun Citi

I spent the past Saturday helping out at a Kid's Day celebration for about 300 kids living in youth homes around southern Jamaica. It was sponsored by Food for the Poor, one of the largest charitable organizations in the Caribbean. A number of Volunteers serve with Food for the Poor, and one of them was organizing this day of fun. Fun Citi, in good old Portmore off Port Henderson Road, was the venue for this event. It started at 10 AM and the kids left around 6 PM.

There were many activities for the kids. Sports like soccer, volleyball, and basketball. Swimming was the most popular, as the facility is located right on the beach. There is a skating rink. I helped kids put on their roller blades and tried to teach them to skate. A number of boys preferred just wearing one skate and racing around as if they were on scooters. There was also an old plastic electric motorized car (pink, with no batteries left) that kids would push each other on and then ram into the walls and trees around the skating rink. Hours of enjoyment.

My favorite thing, and the scariest thing, was the hand-operated ferris wheels, of which there were three. I operated the largest one, with six carts and standing about 15 feet high, for quite a while. It sat on railroad wheels, and so used to be towed around on rail. But it was sunk into the ground with poles at each corner of the platform. To operate, you pulled the wheel on either side (sometimes easier with two people) and loaded the kids into the carts, which had a safety bar the kids were supposed to hold onto. Then you would keep pulling down on the wheel to spin it, the kids shouting "faster!" until one of them wanted to come off. The scary part was when kids would try to climb on before it had stopped moving, or climb down from one of the top carts. At one point one of the carts flipped all the way around, but the girl inside was able to hang on. Towards the end of the day, a safety pole came off of the cart. That's when we realized it was time to stop, and we made everyone get off. I had to play the role of the boring adult, always worrying about safety, but it wasn't too bad.

The kids got their chicken and rice lunch, which took about four hours to feed them all. Before that, there was hot dogs, snow cones (I got one), Chubby brand soda, and popcorn for snacks. The talent show at the end was fun, just like Rising Stars, with dancing, singing, and poetry. At the end, I got a free red stripe, chocolate bar, and Bob Marley shirt. The kids had fun. I had fun. A day well spent.


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