Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Another Week in Belizee :)


The hospital construction project: The last few days, we’ve been working on a painting project over at the Hospital. Right now we’ve only applied the primer; however we should be painting more within the next week or so.

Octavia weight: Just the other day, Mary and Shawney had the opportunity to go over to Octavia Weight and coordinate arts and crafts for the folks there. They all seemed to really enjoy being creative and working on their painting and drawing skills. After, Mary and Shawney went with the Octavia Weight director and brought a bunch of food to elderly people who live in San Ignacio.

Orphanage: On Monday and Wednesday, Kristen, Sarah, Whitney, Shawney, Lisa, Nataya, Melissa and Chris all traveled to Belmopan to start our work with the Orphanage there. On Monday we all put together some games for the children in a park nearby. While some were playing a game of soccer with Chris, Sarah, and Whitney—others were playing “ red light green light” with the girls, or other fun games like “down by the banks” and the “human knot”. All the children there are just so sweet and loveable. There ages range anywhere from 4 months to 18 years, with such different interest. On Wednesday we only got to play a few games before our stay was cut short due to a 2 O’clock meeting most of us had to attend with the George Price Organization for some upcoming projects.

Conflict Resolution: Today, Sarah, Nataya, and Chris all met with 3 members of the Peace Corps who we will be working with on our new project of a conflict resolution camp that starts this coming Monday. We all were really impressed with the structure that the camp will have, as well as how it will be run, and the activities we will be doing in order to teach different ways to resolve conflict. The camp will run for 2 weeks, and we are anticipating a group of about 30 kids all between the ages of 8-11. Each day is planned out in which we focus on a certain part of resolving conflict. For example, day one is about “Creating a positive Identity” day two “Belonging and cooperation” Day three, “setting goals” etc. Our roles in helping on this project will be leading the certain activities, applying and teaching certain aspects we find useful in resolving conflict, and also just managing the class as a whole. All of us were really impressed with the layout that the Corps had already made, and have high hopes for this upcoming project.

Square Foot Gardens- A new project was proposed Sunday night at our project planning meeting, and we have all voted and decided on further pursuing this project of Square foot gardening. Steph stepped up as the team lead for this project and has already started her first “pilot garden” at a house here in San Ignacio. Their hope is to help improve the local’s health by making it more affordable and easier to access fresh vegetables, such as cabbage, tomatoes, radish and sweet peppers, etc. They hope to have one or more gardens underway in the next couple weeks.

Money Management and Business Skills

This week we were sad to see Ben and Marissa go home. However, in the short time they were here, they started a Money Management and Business Skills class. Calvin and Cydnee have taken over their positions as Project leads. It has been noted that there is a lack of money management skills among the people of Belize. Most of the citizens in the country are literate, most having graduated from high school and many attending college. There are many opportunities for employment in private business and public service. Many people have access to loans from banks and credit unions. However, with all of these opportunities many people are living day-to-day and do not have the training necessary to budget and to save. Due to this lack of training, many never accumulate wealth. There are many entrepreneurs, but many have little success due to lack of training on basic business skills. This week Calvin, Cydnee and Whitney were able to organize classes and logistics. We anticipate starting classes mid July at the George Price center.

Soilet: The Soilet has been taking off this last week. We have started construction at the new site on Bullet Tree at an Elementary School. We spent most of the week gathering supplies, cutting wood and digging for worms! We anticipate starting construction soon at our Duck Run location. Most exciting though is the use of our Pilot Soilet at Parrots nest. It currently houses 218 worms, waste and more to come!

Leadership Seminars

The future of tomorrow is in the hands of today’s youth. It is vitally important that we equip today’s youth with tools to help them become positive influences in the communities in which they live. Youth today face challenges unique to their generation. With the negative influences of the media, drugs corroding the communities in which they are introduced, and limited supervision at home; it has been necessary more than ever that youth learn principles to lead and create positive change in the world in which they live. Their futures can be bright if they are prepared and equipped with tools to help them achieve success. The aims of our project are to aid tomorrow’s future in acquiring leadership tools to help them obtain physical evidences of their great potential and help them lead positive initiatives in their communities. This week we were able to organize classes and organized logistics of how everything will run. The volunteers helping on the project are Calvin Skinner, Cydnee Haws, Whitney Fullwood and NaTaya Stewart

English Teaching:

Shawney and NaTaya volunteered to take over a nighttime English teaching class at Corner Stone. This week they have been working on teaching current students sentence structure and negatives. It is sometimes slow moving but the students say they really benefit from our teaching and even though it’s late, give it their all. We are excited to see their progress as the classes continue.

George Price Center Literacy

This week was our first big meeting at The George Price Center concerning the Literacy Class. Mary, Katie, Shawney and Sarah will be involved in team-teaching Literacy everyday for the next two weeks in the city of Belmopan. At the meeting today they were given their responsibilities and the break down of the lesson plan. The two-hour session will be broken down into spelling, reading fluency, reading comprehension, reading aloud, arts & crafts and games. They will be teaching high school students and 5-8 year olds reading skills. After the meeting we all are pumped and ready to start helping out in Belmopan.

School Painting

Along with our current projects, we sometimes offer to help those who have helped us. Richard, a partner who has been so kind to share his tools with us, needed help on painting a local elementary school. We worked on it for two days priming and painting. It is always nice to give something back and in this case it happened to be our labor.

Let the good times Roll....

Trying out new hair styles

Thursday, June 24, 2010

There has been a lot going on the past couple weeks down here in Belize. Our volunteers are working hard daily on a number of different projects to ensure success for the upcoming months. Some of the projects we are dealing with as of late are

The hospital construction project: The past couple weeks we have been working hard to complete our task of tearing tiles off of cardboard for the floor reconstruction. Also, we helped out with painting the walls, cleaning, drilling, and one day we spent helping to set up a tent in a local field for an upcoming Hospital-event. Since Dominique has left, Mary has taken over as team lead and all most all of our volunteers have had a chance to participate in this project. All in all, the hospital’s tasks are given to us on a daily basis.

Octavia weight: Jake has set up a new project where we have had the opportunity to send approx. 2 volunteers daily to an old folks home here in San Ignacio, called Octavia Weight. There, we do anything from coordinate games with the elderly ( like bingo, cards, or board games) as well as feed them lunch and assist wherever is needed. The plans for the upcoming week are to put together more structured activities each day.

Health Fair: 2 weekends ago, a few of our team members including Chris, Melissa, Jake, Cydnee, and Dominique had the opportunity to drive down to Punta Gorda to assist Collette (our heath fair contact) with a heath fair that consisted of going door to door in small villages and taking vitals for the people living there. After taking vitals (blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate etc) our volunteers offered insights on how to improve their heath. This upcoming weekend, Chris, Shawney and Sarah will be helping with another heath fair in Orange Walk, where similar things will be taking place.

Orphanage: Yesterday, Kristen, Sarah, Shawney, Lisa and Chris traveled to Belmopan to meet with Kings Children Orphanage, where we will be spending a lot of time in the upcoming month of July. The meeting we had there was simply to review plans with the Orphanage supervisor related to activities we are going to be doing with the children, as well as the days in which we should come. The children there range from ages 4 months to 18, with a ratio of about 3 girls to every boy. Some of the activities we have proposed are sports (namely, football, soccer, and basketball) Arts and crafts, street games ( sidewalk chalk, hopscotch, 4 square) story time, small games such as freeze tag, look down look up, do you love your neighbor? Etc. and also a few dance classes. We are all anxious to see where this project goes and are excited to have this opportunity to work with children.

Tutoring: Every night at 5pm Kristen and Stephanie tutor math for an hour to a young girl here in San Ignacio. Soon, they will be taking on a larger group of children once school gets out. The lesson plans right now entail order of operations, decimals, fractions and early algebra.

Computer Class: On Tuesday and Thursday Shawney has been teaching a computer class to a young girl. Lately, they have been working on learning how to navigate power point as well as typing skills. Shawney is focusing on these tasks in particular because she feels that they will be the most useful for future schooling and careers as well as useful skills to teach others. Currently, she is creating a power point about hip hop dancing.

Dunford Summer School: This past week Shawney has been teaming up with Kristen and Lisa in brainstorming ideas for an upcoming summer pre -school program. Help volunteers will only be actually attending the school for a couple days out of the month, however when we do go, Shawney will be teaching a lesson on the planets and space, while Kristen and Lisa will be teaching bracelet making.

Square Foot Gardens- A new project that is currently being researched is Square Foot Gardening. Stephanie is the project lead and spent a couple days this week researching places to put them around San Ignacio, materials needed and different ways of making compost. The volunteers helping her on the project are Calvin, NaTaya and Lisa. This week the team made great head way by finding a location to make a ‘pilot’ garden. They were also given many contacts and possible locations to make more gardens. They learned that many families want and need fresh vegetables, such as cabbage, tomatoes, radish and sweet peppers, but don’t have the knowledge or supplies to do so. They hope to have one or more gardens underway in the next couple weeks.

Business/Computer classes- Cydnee Haws has been working for a few weeks with a local NPO called Cornerstone. She is in charge of teaching Computer classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to a few ladies in the community. Some of the women who come to the class expressed interest in learning how to make business cards and increase their accuracy in typing. Since the class has opened there has been a steady flow of students and their typing has greatly improved. During the week other volunteers help out when there is a need. Cydnee hopes the class will expand and the students will express interest in other areas.

Soilet: The Soilet is one of the first projects that the volunteers have started here in San Ignacio. Soilet is a eco-friendly waste management system. Wendy Lee, the project lead, and practically every volunteer has either worked construction or began negotiations with various partners. This week we finished overall construction of the Soilet and hope to begin use. We have a new site for a second Soilet at a site called Duck Run III. During negotiations with partners we are discussing a construction site at Bullet Tree. Overall this project has been time consuming and very beneficial.

English Teaching: English is a common language spoken in Belize. However, living in San Ignacio, practically at the border of Guatemala, there are many people who don’t speak English very well. Melissa Richardson and Sarah Foote have been offering an English class at Cornerstone from 2:30-5 daily. They teach English to 3 women Evelyn, Isabel and Patricia. This week they have been working on irregular verbs, telling stories in the past, vocabulary and prepositions. Each of the students are progressing well and now that there are more volunteers we are able to give more one-on-one attention to the students. It is always great to see the students progressing because we know it is a sacrifice for them to come to class. Some of the students have children at home and can only dedicate an hour or so to learning English, but they come because they say they’re learning a lot.

And on the Weekends...

River adventures

Snorkeling at Caye Caulker

Zip Lining in Guatemala

Climbing temples at Tikal

Monkeying around at Caye Caulker

And Calvin still at work...