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  1. #1

    Default Making a Difference in Ocho Rios

    Tim and I just returned Sunday from our honeymoon at CTI which was Fabulous! I returned from Jamaica wanting to learn much more about the country and the people. I knew there was poverty in Jamaica but I did not understand the extent of it until I did some research. Has anyone else returned from their vacation and wanted to do something to help?

  2. #2


    I don't have any realistic numbers on just how many people return home after their vacation and want to help out the Jamaica people in some way. But I would venture a guess that the number is not to high. Most of the vacationers only get a small glimpse of the living conditions and poverty that exists in Jamaica. Pretty much the only chance to see anything is on the bus ride to their resort. If couples go off the resort to an activity such as Dunns River or Dolphin Cove or other sites in Negril, they are somewhat sheltered from the day to day struggles and living conditions that face the average Jamaican. Again, the only exposure they have is from the window of a bus to and from a tourist site.

    We have been to Jamaica a total of 35 times, and I have heard many people say, "Wow, I never realized how the people of Jamaica really live, and I can only imagine what they must endure each day". We have made many friends in Jamaica over the years and have had an opportunity to get away from the picture postcard look of the resorts, and have gone to a number of homes in a few differnt areas. The contrast is overwhelming. The way houses are built, the things that the people may have in their homes, the condition of the roads off the main "highway", all that and more still can only give a small glimpse as to what the real Jamaica is like. The conditions of schools, hospitals, even the stores that they shop in, are so completely different what you and I are used to back home.

    Each time we go back, we fly first class. Not so much for the seats on the plane or the "express" lines at the airport, but we do it because instead of being allowed 50 pounds per suitcase, we get 70 pounds. That extra 40 pounds represents what we bring down for staff at the resort, as well as stuff for other friends we know outside the resort. Clothing, sneakers, various foods and more are cramed in the bags right up to the limit of 70 pounds. In our carry on luggage, there is more. A friend needed a good battery operated drill and accessories, someone else needed some good carving tools. One time, I managed to take a small gas tank for a mop-head scooter. And flying first class costs us an extra $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 for the flight. But the smile on someones face when they get something they requested makes it all worth it. And believe me, we are not rich by any stretch of the imagination. It takes a lot of planning and scheming to put our two trips a year together.

    We realize that we can't help everyone, but we can help a few. In return, our trips bring my wife and myself closer together and we feel as though we can give back something to the Jamaican people who have given us so much all these years.

    There is also another way to contribute. Cash donations to the Issa Coperation, the family that owns the four Couples resorts. That money will find its way to schools, hospitals, and other services so badly needed in that marvelous country. You can more information on the Couples website. There are also teams of doctors, nurses and other personnel that go to Jamaica every year to donate goods and services to those in need. You can also bring school supplies and other goods to the resort and they will see that it gets to the people that need it.

    From our very first trip in 1993, Jamaica found a place in our hearts. And as long as we are able to continue to travel there, we will continue to help out in any way that we can.

    I hope that other people will find a way to bring what they can each time they go. And I know that many of they already do that. One year, as we were leaving CTI, we asked one of the ladies from housekeeping what we could bring on our next trip. She said, "I would like a double size blue cotton sheet for my bed". Needless to say, it went with us the following year. I was humbled to think that something so common to you and me, made such a difference in a persons life.

  3. #3


    We also wanted to be able to do something meaningful in Jamaica after having visited there. So when our church started talking about wanting to do an out of country mission trip we suggested Jamaica. We were able to connect with an organization here in the states, CSI Ministries, that has a very active ministry in Jamaica. We took 18 folks to build a house and lay block for a new library at a school. The house we built was about a 12 x 20 wood building. We would call it a shed here in the US. The older gentleman that got it was thrilled though. I think there was going to be about 6 people living in it. No water, no electricity just a shelter, but more than they had.

    We learned while there that the local folks love to have luggage to use as a way to store their clothes. So we left as many of our suit cases as we could. My wife and I returned for our anniversary in December of the same year and had enough frequent flier miles that we were able to fly first class. That allowed us to take extra bags free and with the heavier weight. We took 3 extra suit cases full of stuff that the missionaries had requested. It felt good to be able to help.

    Here is the house we built and the church we attended. We were in church for about 2 1/2 hours and it was very enjoyable. These people know how to have a great time. So while they may be "poor" by our standards, they are very rich in so many ways.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  4. #4


    What wonderful stories!! We are flying first class for the first time and the first thing I thought of is that we can bring some extras now for the amazing staff! I never even thought of bed sheets. Any other suggestions??

  5. #5


    We always travel with just carryons...except for the trip there which our extra bags are filled to the hilt with every school supply under the sun, bath and body work goodies toothpaste toothbrushes etc. I just gather thing that I find and then hit the back to school specials that are super cheap when we go in July....they are so grateful and many get tearyeyed when you give them there little surprises. We also live close to a fossil outlet which gives us great opportunities for some low cost watches which they all appreciate. When I go to leave any of my bathroom goodies I didn't use I give away...sine I generally by new for the trip and have plenty waiting for me when I get home. It makes us feel great and makes such a big impact. I sometimes see people post that we shouldn't because it might as well be tips...but I say our service is always phenomenal the same as our first trip before we thought to bring little treats...and honestly it was of our highlights!!!!
    I do have one question though..last year we brought so much we felt the need to disclose in customs which cost us an extra hour just to have them say there was no need...anyone now the rules for customs on this?
    Eric & Rachael, New Braunfels TX
    CTI 2010
    CN/CTI 2011
    CTI 2012
    CTI 2013 (Gotta Love Early Booking Specials)

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