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Jamaica Maroon Project - working with ex-slave communities

Staff and volunteers Whether you are volunteering on a gap year, summer placement or career break, if you want to get truly immersed in the traditional culture of Jamaica, our Community Project working within the Maroon community could be the perfect volunteer placement for you.

Volunteers on the Maroon Community Project join the Accompong Community; located in the hills of St Elizabeth Parish, it is one of the remaining traditional Maroon communities in Jamaica. The Jamaican Maroons were runaway slaves who fought the British during the 18th century, and the term is now used for their descendants. The Maroons in Jamaica remain to a large extent autonomous and separate from the rest of Jamaican culture and these vibrant communities are usually inaccessible other than by visiting on a day's tour. Some of the Maroon community are also Rastafarians.

A friendly local Volunteers joining the Maroon community in Accompong will get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Volunteers in the community can assist with a wide variety of projects including the following types of work:

  • Teaching computer lessons
  • Joining cultural preservation projects
  • Maintaining the herb garden
  • Assisting with greenhouse farming
  • Teaching at the Basic, Primary and Junior High School
  • Working in the libraryEntrance to the Accompong community
  • Providing basic health care, the clinic is only open every other month on a Tuesday
  • Establishing a play area for the children
  • Assisting with community tours
  • Developing a trail through the cockpit country
  • Working on a community literacy programme (teaching adults to read and write).

The Accompong Community has all the usual basic amenities and is home to 168 households and an estimated population of 576 people. As many of 50% of the households are home to three generations. The community has a Primary and Junior High School, one Basic School and a Training Centre.

Community Volunteering with Maroons in Jamaica

The main source of livelihood for Accompong is farming which is done by 90% of men. Women mainly stay at home while 10% are shopkeepers and 10% farmers. The main issues affecting the community are unemployment (16% of the community is unemployed), lack of trained teachers, poor parenting, illiteracy, insufficient cultural preservation, lack of a play area for the children, lack of access to adequate health care, lack of safety signs, poor road conditions and lack of water in some areas. The perception is that the Maroon communities are excluded from the external state support as they do not benefit from social and infrastructure programmes.

Maroon Project mural The history of Accompong dates back over 200 years. There are oral historians and documents that tell the old intriguing story of Accompong Town. Jamaican's see Maroons as special people and they are viewed with respect because of their gallant fight for freedom. This gives them a unique place in the heart of many Jamaicans, particularly those with an academic knowledge of the historic events leading up to the freedom from the British. They are remembered each year on January 6th when there is a huge community celebration which gets national promotion and considerable media focus.

Volunteers live in Accompong with a local host family, who will ensure that you soon feel at home and integrate into community life.

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