By now you should know that ACE is always looking for ways to get people working in Jamaica, especially in sustainable jobs. Jamaica has many natural treasures that are grown and produced on this island. It just so happens that St. Mary, our parish, produces some of the best chocolate in the world — that’s right, in the world!
Our cocoa trees produce a bean known as Creola, a very dark and well sought-out bean for making chocolate. ACE, through the help of friends, has decided to test our taste buds by producing our own chocolate bars. We are still playing around with a name for the bar. Right now, however, we are going to class in the states to learn the art of taking a cocoa bean to a chocolate bar called “Cloud 9”. Atlanta happens to be the city that offers world-renowned training classes on making chocolate, so we sent Allen and Bruce (a volunteer and chocolatier) for the week.
While this is a challenging start-up, we’ve stepped out in faith and bought the equipment ACE needs to teach, train, and develop a great Jamaican chocolate bar. Some of you — our supporters — have partnered with us in this venture by investing your treasure. Thank you! We are still seeking funding to get the equipment shipped and cleared and the room set up for production. We hope to hire a mother of one of our sponsored students. Remember, we go deep. If a mother or father can work, the entire family is affected. Would you help us accomplish this start up? Think about it. Pray about it.
Did we mention it’s a “sweet deal”?
Well, they may not be pineapples yet, but we’ve put over 300 suckers in the ground that will produce a very sweet and juicy pineapple crop next year. Since drought seems to be a common thing these days, we are learning the art of raising these wonderful fruits. With the help of our volunteers, we got them all planted.
Now we are waiting…and waiting…for those sugar sweet “pines”, as the Jamaicans call them.
I don’t know about you, but when my family comes to visit, whether in Atlanta or in Jamaica, I love it. We get to catch up, laugh about new and old stories, and share the love and joy of togetherness that we sometimes forget when family members are miles away.
That love never changes, even as our family members grow up and age. Betty, Allen’s mother, has been living in Jamaica with us for the past 13 years now. She has volunteered to do almost anything she’s asked to do. The cement hauling and infirmary visits stopped a few years ago, but for the most part, she’s willing to help.
Many of you asked this winter where Betty was. Well, she took some time away from Jamaica to visit Allen’s brothers and their families. Everyone got a nice break and change of scenery, but, for the update, she’s back and doing very well – she is still amazing! How many of you at soon to be 86-years-old can walk up and down the hill to the parking lot here at Galina Breeze five times a day and still be ready to play a card game after dinner? She’s proven age is mind over matter and that you are never, ever too old to serve!
Welcome home, Betty! The ACE staff missed you and so did the volunteers! Now, please go load those water coolers in the back of the van…(she also still has a great sense of humor!).
With Betty back and so many of you returning, it’s a wonderful start to our spring and summer plans! This year, our budget is a challenging one with all the many projects ACE is doing in the community. We pray that God may give you some treasure to sow into ACE this quarter, and as always, we are grateful for your physical skills in teaching, training, and encouraging our Nationals for the Kingdom.
All the best –
This week, the ACE Honey Micro-Enterprise Business reaped its first batch of honey!
Thanks to our bee masters from Ringgold, Georgia, and Port Maria, Jamaica, Anthony – our first bee keeper with ACE – reaped his first batch of honey. What a sweet moment! Everyone present watched from afar as the two bee keepers went up the hill at the campus in their suits and pulled some of the honey from the hive. The bees were not very happy about it. The honey frame was put in an extractor where the honey was removed and filtered into a bucket.
This was just our first shot at it, but we got 28 pounds of honey! Thanks to Randy, from Ringgold, we put them in the 1-pound honey jars. We are working on getting the labels on and storing them. If anyone would like to help join in on this project, ACE would love it.
We need to purchase quite a few items to beef up the production and, well, honey is a great business to be in if you have the place, time, and investment. Anthony is so excited. He said this week that he has a friend who really wants to learn to make honey.
Of course! After all, the goal is to get these young men excited about making a living for themselves and their family. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes many hives to make a business. Think about getting involved with your time and treasure. We need you!
BEE seeing you soon!
Everyone loves chocolate, including us folks in Jamaica. A quick fact – did you know that chocolate first originated in the Caribbean? And that the cocoa tree only grows 20 degrees north and south of the equator? We didn’t know this until a friend of ACE, Bruce, started teaching us all about chocolate and its origin.
You see, Bruce is a confectionary consultant with many years of experience in the chocolate industry, and God just happened to get him to Jamaica with his Philadelphia church team to visit us. It wasn’t until he was halfway through the week that Bruce began to share his knowledge and love for sweets.
Jamaica, in past years, was known for exporting chocolate to countries like the U.S. and U.K. for many years. In fact, even on a small scale, chocolate is still made and sold today. In an ongoing effort to create jobs for our Nationals in St. Mary, ACE has decided to explore the possibilities of making our own G.B. (Galina Breeze) Bars.
What does that look like? Initially, we must purchase the equipment and materials to begin making our 2-oz bars. After attending a fast course in Atlanta a few weeks ago with Bruce and the vendors who sell the equipment, we came away with amazing information on the complex way chocolate is made. In addition, we learned that by starting on a small scale, we have plenty of business already just locally! Would you like to be involved in this program? If so, contact us for details.
Currently, the plan is to hire two single mothers from our sponsorship program and train them to be chocolatiers! (smile). We hope it will be a sweet deal for all of us at ACE and the community.
If you are an adult team volunteering at ACE, chances are you’ve experienced Rina’s Naniki Naturals products and learned how to make soap and insect repellant. Rina is a single woman who has many talents, talents that have enabled her to get her now-adult children through school and living well with their families.
While Rina is producing great products using all natural ingredients, she needed that next step in organizing her business to understand the back-office operations. With the help of several expert business individuals from abroad, Rina began to get an understanding of things like cash flow, production costs, invoicing and receivables. Believe me, when these volunteers began helping her with these topics, we were all ears. She took it all in and gave herself some time to digest all this new information.
Just this past week, Rina remarked on how much she appreciated the help, was ready to move forward and asked exactly how this thing called Micro-Enterprise with ACE will work. You see, while Rina received a loan to boost her production, it can be difficult for Jamaican business men and woman to understand there are “no strings attached” to the help they receive. Yes, they take a loan with an annual interest rate that is lower than most banks, but even more, they receive 24/7 expert advice and help in developing and marketing business products – you don’t get that from any bank! After all, isn’t that what Christ does for us? No strings attached, just outreach and love? It’s all about the relationship, and we hope we can be a help to Rina’s business success and also a friend to her personally.
We’ve put a tour together on the ACE debrief day at Rina’s workshop if you are not a beach person. You will learn to make soap, eat a fabulous vegan lunch in the yard, make some bug repellant and finish with shopping in Rina’s little store on site. Once you start using Naniki Products, you will never quit – they are very nice, indeed!!
As most of you may know, ACE is very much involved in the Micro-Enterprise business in Jamaica. The program came out of meeting parents and caretakers of our sponsored children who were willing to work but didn’t really have a plan or practical skills.
Many years ago, ACE thought the best way to help would be to offer loans of $200 to $300US for items like weed eaters (Whippers in Jamaica), chicken business items, tuck shop merchandise, etc. What we found out very quickly was that once the machines broke down or the chicks died or the food was purchased, the business fell by the wayside because of the lack of knowledge of investment and sustainability. ACE brought in some of the best business men and women from the States to offer one-on-one coaching. Unfortunately, we all had to realize that all the know-how in America doesn’t necessarily relate to the day-to-day survival of individuals who are struggling just to feed their child or get them a taxi to go to school.
Those years were real learning curves for us as well as lessons on middle-class mind-filtering. We in America have been so fortunate to think on a critical-skills level. We think all people in all countries have the same advantage – until we begin to move in the circles of poverty. Poverty is where the majority of people in the world live. There isn’t a welfare program, a Social Security plan, soup houses, or free taxis. There is just a community trying to pull together to make it through the everyday challenges we call “living”.
We have said that Jamaicans seem to give us middle-class Americans more than we give them. While we have the knowledge and generosity to give our time and expertise for career guidance, it is indeed the Jamaicans who teach us what real life and self-sacrifice is all about. Getting that latest TV or smart phone isn’t as important as having someone to communicate with, someone who cares, even if all you have is a “banger” phone (a cheap phone that Jamaicans use to communicate). Knowledge is key, and so many want to learn and be successful in their businesses – not for the fancy things they can buy but to provide for their families and have peace of mind.
Today, with ACE turning 30 years old this year, we all feel that our focus has changed from the earlier days to having a better understanding of who we serve and the why behind it. We’d like to highlight a few businesses that are doing well and changing lives for these individuals, and their families and friends, and in the process, offer change for us in our well-established world.
2018 has started out for ACE with a big BANG!! Or maybe I should refer to it as Big Bees!
Besides the canning, the homes being completed, and children being sponsored, our own second-story student, Anthony (or, as he likes to be called, “Junior”) is learning to make honey for Galina and ACE…
With the help of his sponsors, Anthony had the opportunity to work with two professional bee masters last week, collecting his bees and learning about how to make more bee hives. I personally had no idea how complex bees were until Anthony began teaching me some of the trade. For those of you planning on coming to see us this year, Anthony will be here to teach us all the art of making honey.
Galina Bees Honey will not only be a sweet deal but also another way to teach a young man that he can sustain himself and his family in micro-business. Thank you, sponsors! We are truly grateful for all the investment into the lives of our students and families.
It’s true! American Caribbean Experience is thirty years old this year! For some of us, that’s a scary thought – when the ministry grows up, the founder grows older. Regardless of the aging process, life is very good for all of the hard workers God has used to get us to this point. We hope that the passing years have produced wisdom in understanding God’s heart so we can continue to meet the needs of the Jamaican community He has assigned us to serve.
We’ve said this many times before, but turning thirty reminds all of us that ACE only works well in meeting the spiritual, physical and mental needs of the many when volunteers are committed to long-term investment. As a ministry called to help in a developing country like Jamaica, we are very aware how God has used our U.S. and Canadian volunteers to assist us in work where we need the help most – working alongside our National families. Your time and support have sustained us for decades, and we thank you!
It’s going to be a fantastic year! ACE is celebrating with a big event in the U.S. (more to come)! We will see the beginning of some long-awaited programs that have been announced in the past and are now coming into play. We have new faces, new talent, and the same great attitude our staff and friends have had for these thirty years, so celebrate with us! When a wonderful ACE memory comes to mind, share it with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We would love to hear from you!
Thirty years doesn’t sound that old – we think we are good for another thirty! And we hope you’ll stay along for the ride!
Feeling younger everyday –
Marla and Allen
If you think farming is just a yard hobby, you haven’t been to the Green Life Farm with ACE. We are amazed at how just a few farmers from our community are able to turn a profit with scotch bonnet peppers. This month, our peppers are popping! So are the parents from child sponsorship programs.
One of our U.S. Volunteers noticed, when he was on the farm last year that our local staff didn’t have boots to work in while farming. Talk about meeting a need! This month, he came packing with boots, after inquiring about sizes. When the staff arrived for work, they were greeted with new boots! Instead of tattered sneakers, they now are ready for the farm — thanks to a volunteer who noticed there was a need and followed through to fill it.
Now what about the rest of us??? I’m a size 9? (smile)