By Crystal Mason
As a country girl born and raised in Manchester, I had known Trench Town as this culture-rich town referenced often in songs. It was a place my father spoke of, as he had spent many of his teen years there. He had known Bob Marley for crying out loud! So I kept thinking, “How much cooler could this place get?” So when the Shashamane Sunrise presented the opportunity to visit Trench Town and read with the children of National Baptist Basic School, I found myself to be both nervous and ecstatic.
I was tasked with shopping for reading material and treats for children between the ages of three and six. I remember feeling a little stressed out because I really wanted to get it right. I wanted to make sure the children would love the books and the stories contained within them. In the end, I settled on Dora Loves Boots, a book of nursery rhymes and a few fairytales. The treats were meant to reward the children for their precociousness and good behavior during our sessions. But how was I to know that I would need many more gifts?!
Reading with these children brought me way back to a time when my teachers would read to me and all the other children in class. I sat on a chair fit for a child of four or five, but they didn’t seem to notice, and immediately pulled their own chairs into a semi-circle, listening attentively so that they wouldn’t miss a word. Their excitement was palpable! We did a round of spelling, and then a question-and-answer based on the content of the books. I made sure to show the pictures on each page or else I would be in serious trouble. It was really interesting to see how fascinated the children were were by shapes and colours, especially when they saw pictures of their favourite characters from television: Dora and Boots. At the end of my sessions with the three different groups—K1, K2, and K3— I found myself at the center of very large group hugs, and to my delight, I have the pictures to prove it.
We said our goodbyes, took many more photos and videos, and then we took our leave. To my surprise, the trip was not yet over. We drove for a while before pulling to a stop at a gate along the side of the road a little ways from the school, and it took me a moment to realize that I was at Trench Town’s Culture Yard. This was a place that I had been longing to visit, the place where Bob Marley had spent a great deal of his youth, and where he had composed famous songs like “No Woman No Cry.” We toured through the bedrooms, and I even sat on the single bed where Bob and Rita Marley once slept.
This was truly an incredible experience and a day well spent. I will be forever grateful to Shashamane Sunrise for providing this opportunity and for those to come. I look forward to our future projects with efforts to have a positive impact on the lives of our youth. Until next time….
Crystal Mason is a fashion model and a Shashamane Sunrise Youth Ambassador.