Thursday, May 26, 2011

Assignment Day!

Since the day we arrived at the Peace Corps Office in Belmopan, we have anticipated the day we would be given our project assignment and site location. Although we’ve had several conversations with our Program Manager, the actual assignment is kept pretty hush-hush. Many of the current volunteers try to predict who’s going where, and our PM also made some pretty broad hints, too.

The day finally arrived and this morning all 38 of us found out where we’re going and what we’re going to do! Not only were all we trainees excited, but the PC staff were, too. The atmosphere was very charged (trite but true).

They sent us out of our meeting room so they could set up. When we came back, the first thing we saw was a huge map of Belize. It was decorated with flowers and animals, with major towns and other landmarks. So pretty. Clustered around each town and in other areas, were other pictures, flowers and animals, each representing a PCV.

The game they used to reveal the assignments was Taboo. I hadn’t played it before. One person has to make another person guess a word or phrase by describing it. Of course, all the words were related to Peace Corps and CBT and Belize. The one giving the clues also has a list of taboo words they may NOT use. If they do, they’re disqualified. In this case, if the guesser got it right, the two people got to reveal an assignment. Of course, since neither knew where they were going, it was fun for everybody to see who was going where. The game carried on for a good hour and a half!

Here’s what the map looked like when we were done.

Steve and I are assigned to Dangriga Town!

We had received so many hints and guesses from “those in the know,” that it came as no surprise, but we were so happy to have it confirmed. We each got a packet with project-specific information – organization, contacts, resources, potential activities once we’re in the job. The packet also included a schedule for the 5 days we’re going to spend with our counterparts starting this Friday.

Steve will work at the Poli-clinic. His assignment includes (straight from the packet):
  • Health outreach and education on healthy lifestyle to the Stann Creek Community (Stann Creek is the district where Dangriga is located)
  • Organize and conduct meetings to make presentations to working groups and employers about health risk factors, the benefits of healthy living and how to access health care services (over 5,000 persons)
  • Sensitizing patients about post-operative health care
  • Advise patients at the clinic on how to control and avoid illnesses
  • Sensitizing chronic patients on adequate control levels
  • Conduct health talks at schools and other target institutions; make presentations about the importance of personal hygiene and quality food and exercise (more than 25 schools/4,000 students)
  • Advise patients and the citizenry on alternative source of healthy foods
  • Make presentations to the general population on lifestyles and behaviors that may put them at risk and how to avoid these, eating habits, sexually transmitted diseases (especially HIV and AIDS.

Whew! And that’s not even the detailed part! His two counterparts are an administrator and the health educator/public relations officer.

My assignment is with POWA – Productive Organization for Women in Action. My duties as a health educator include:
  • To assist in building capacity of the POWA members as it relates to their ability to make presentations on health information to the rest of the community
  • To assist in better delivery of health information to the community
  • To assist in the design of health programs and other informational campaigns especially focusing on women, children and other vulnerable populations
  • To assist POWA members to organize community Health Programs such as radio shows, TV shows, and other innovative ways to reach target population with health information, especially sexual and reproductive health.

Also assist in:
  • Development of program targeting community members with health information
  • Helping in the development of data gathering and generation of reports
  • Going into communities (rural) and schools to present health info
  • Assisting at community and health fairs and other public events
  • Development of other skills such as basic computer skills, writing skilsl and general personal development

My counterparts are the founder of POWA and a woman from the Women’s Department (don’t know what that means).

So what it sounds like to me is that I’ll be using my computer skills to help them with database, powerpoint and presentation stuff. The “health” connection is weak, but I like this fine! And I admire what the group is doing.

We are both very happy with our projects.

We will meet our counterparts this Friday at a “Counterpart Workshop.” We’ll spend time getting to know each other. I will learn more about what’s expected of me. Then we’ll head down to Dangriga where I’ll tour their office and see some more of Dangriga.

While Steve and I are in Dangriga for the visit, we will stay with our new host mom (yes, another, but just for a little while, I think). We are eager to look for a house to rent and get started setting up. Don’t think we’ll have time during this visit, but you never know. Could be one of our counterparts will know of something.

Stay tuned . . .

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