Hello people of the world!
First of all, it's been way ridiculously long since I last posted.... sorry! Maybe my New Year's resolution will be to post regularly! I cannot believe it's DECEMBER already!! This is going on my 9th month here in Belize!! Can you Belize it??!
Time seems to FLY by here! (well, I guess that's true of anywhere-- but it seems to be going by extra fast lately!)
Things have been really good in Belize! Let me fill you in on some of the exciting happenings in my life in recent months! (since I have been TERRIBLE at keeping you informed!!)
I recently finished my first grant to help fund for a girls camp we our holding in July 2011. It's called Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) and it's for teen girls from all over the country. It's a weeklong camp put on by the Peace Corps WID/GAD committee, which focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment. I'm also the Fundraising Coordinator and Public Relations Coordinator for the club, so I've got my hands full in that project!
In other news, December 1st was World AIDS Day. The Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Committee collaborated with the Toledo HIV/AIDS Committee and we put on a very productive 2 day event. On Nov 30th we held a candlelight vigil at central park in PG town. Students and adults came to hear speakers, poetry, music, and to light the candles. We even got a bonus because PG's "dancing bum" gave his own little performance after the event! He's always a source of entertainment on the streets of PG... Then on Dec 1st, we held a torch run--which basically was the local high school men's football team plus me and Taylor. So we were the only girls and the only PC reps. It was interesting! We just did a loop around town... not a very long run. But it was fun. The kid in front held a torch that actually had the Olympic rings on it-- I felt pretty legit! hahaha Following the run, we had a full day's event with 8 different high schools from Toledo. There were skits, songs, a rap contest (which I judged--because clearly, I'm qualified for that sort of thing!), speakers, and HIV testing. Our PC committee along with other organizations had booths where students could walk around and ask questions and get information about HIV/AIDS and related topics. It was a very productive day!
In relation to HIV/AIDS and testing, I've become friends with the nurse of BFLA (Belize Family Life Association) and will be helping her both out in the villages and in town, promoting safe sex talks and offering HIV testing and PAP smears. I'm very excited to have this opportunity! The women in rural villages don't always get into town or are too afraid to come forward to be tested or have proper check ups. So BFLA is going to bring the check ups and testing to THEM by going home to home! It eliminates both the embarrassment and inconvenience associated with coming into town.
As far as my organization and primary project go, I recently gave a "Designing for Behavior Change: Conflict Resolution" seminar to our supervisors from Toledo and Belize. It was a successful presentation and I went on to present a modified version to our Rovers at the last Fourthnightly Session we had (our bi-weekly staff meetings). Both seemed productive and I was glad to put some of my PC training to use! Now my Belize City supervisor wants me to set up a workshop with the Rovers in Belize and Toledo focused on Conflict Resolution. In addition, I gave a talk on "Professionalism in the Workplace" with the Toledo Rovers, which also went very well. I am working with another PCV in the north to organize the workshop on Conflict Resolution and I think it will be extremely beneficial to our organization. Petty fighting tends to be one of the major issues we face when dealing with these girls. So work has been busy and good! I spend a lot of time in the office, which I hope to change in the new year, but for now it works!
The final major project news I have is my women's football initiative! I went to a meeting with the Ministry of Sports last week in which I was not only the only white person present, but also the only female present. I have to admit it was a little intimidating-- football is a guy's thing here and I felt out of place in more than one way. But I was glad I stuck it out... I definitely made an impact by just being present because people on the streets recognize me from that night. So it only brought about positives! My main reasoning for attending the meeting is that I want to start a women's football team in PG. In the north football is much more equal, (the majority of populations being kriol or mestizo)...but in the south things are still very different. I decided going to town is not the best way, so I'm now getting my foot in the door by working with the local high school: Toledo Technical College. TCC supposedly has a women's football team, though they don't practice and I'm not sure if they actually have a season. But last Friday I forced myself into a meeting with the director of sports at the school, (since I had given a Role Models talk to one of the classes earlier that day), and he was able to set me up with the coach and deemed me essentially the assistant coach for the team, starting Monday! I'm excited to work with them-- I feel like I'll get really frustrated in this role, but it will definitely be worth it.
So that's basically my "work life" as of lately.... I'm busy in weird ways, but I like the randomness of it all! Variety is essential to my sanity!
I was going to write more, but I think I'll save my dually hectic social life for another entry!!