By Joshua Smith
I had no idea what to expect from my first trip to National Baptist Basic School, or from Boys’ Day. Shashamane Sunrise had only recently introduced me to volunteerism, so everything was new to me. When I arrived, saw a full house of students sitting with their fathers listening to an opening speech by the principal. The event was very uplifting—it reminded me the importance of fathers playing active roles in their children’s lives. What struck me the most, though, were the experience and stories the fathers shared.
One of the most striking presentations was delivered by a stepfather who not only shared a few words, but also sang “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross. I marveled at his performance and was in awe of the tremendous love he had for a child he’d adopted as his own. Witnessing this pride and affection between father and son moved me—it’s rarely seen in Jamaican Society. I took photos and recordings of the presenters on behalf of Shashamane. Dr. Rene Zazou Williamson, the head of Shash, also made a short but profound presentation about his own upbringing and the profound influence his father had on his life.
Afterwards, we all went out to the playground so the children and their fathers could play games together. They flew kites, played football, and, to my delight, made me the goalkeeper for a penalty shootout. The children had the times of their lives, and the father seemed appreciative to spend quality time with their sons
At the end of the day, the principal thanked the fathers for coming out and to spend time with their kids. The children cried and asked me not to leave. I promised to return, and to be honest, I was looking forward to my next visit just as much as they were.
Shashamane Sunrise has admirably given young people like me the opportunity to discover and develop a love of volunteerism through school visits like Boys’ Day. I know Shash will continue to change lives one pencil—or one Boys’ Day—at a time.
Joshua Smith is a third-year undergraduate Psychology student and Shashamane Sunrise Volunteer.