Once I left the sparkling and manicured tourist areas behind, I got to see the real Jamaica. Right away, I could barely believe my eyes. In the green inland country, families crowded together in tiny shacks pieced together out of scrap plywood and sheets of corrugated metal. Leaky roofs let in the rain. Gaps in walls stood in for windows. The shacks could barely hold the number of people who slept on their rickety floors, and the walls looked ready to collapse any second.
People lived in these conditions because they didn’t have a choice. Here’s the thing: Jamaica’s economy and infrastructure don’t provide much opportunity. If you don’t work in the tourist industry, you don’t have options. Rural families try to scrape a living through farming, but even with back-breaking work, making enough money to build a future for yourself and your family is basically impossible.
The contrast between poverty in Jamaica and poverty in the United States hit me hard. In the States, the huge variety of industries and businesses in operation means that while poverty does exist in many places, opportunity is there too. Jobs are out there. In Jamaica, people don’t have the same kinds of options. No matter how much they might want to get away from the endless struggle and trap of rural poverty, there’s no way out.
I knew I had to commit myself to more than just one mission trip. I came home from that first trip determined to find a way to bring hope and opportunity to Jamaica’s people.
Creators of Hope’s mission centers on the idea that a family with a home has the foundation to build a better life. The mission doesn’t stop there, though. Creators of Hope also works with local organizations to help families develop business and entrepreneurial skills, manage money, and keep kids in school. Home is the heart of a larger mission to change the lives of the rural poor, one family at a time.