Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quickie Update on Peace Corps Stuff

Vacations are great, but we ARE here for a purpose, right?

Steve continues to go to the Polyclinic every day. Sometimes he goes with the social worker or the community health care workers to teach about hygiene or other topics. Yesterday he went to Hopkins door-to-door to warn about their water source. Fecal matter had been found in the water, and everyone needed to be taught about boiling water or using "purified" (bottled) water for drinking, cooking, washing hands and brushing teeth.

Steve is a great teacher. He's helping the neighbor boy downstairs with his homework several days a week. He also helped one of the POWA women with her high school homework recently. It was a marathon session to prepare her for a big-time math exam. She said he really helped her to understand all the different types of math. Kudos to Steve!

I am still teaching HFLE (sex ed) and life skills to elementary schools. Just got "fired" from one school yesterday. I guess I stepped over the line when I showed them how to put on a condom. The kids are 12 and 13 years old, and already know A LOT about puberty and other sexual health and reproduction topics. They have a very healthy sexual curiosity, too. But the parents felt that I was teaching them too much, that impregnation and safe sex were too much in depth. Here are some of the quotes: "They know more than I do." "They shouldn't be learning these topics until 6th Form (Junior college)." "They don't need to know about safe sex because they will wait until they are married to have sex." One parent threatened that if I kept teaching there, that she would keep her child out of school on those days. The book the teacher had been using before I started teaching was a Bible-based text called Love, Romance, and Marriage.

OK, so I learned my lesson, and will tread lightly at my other schools. I HAVE been teaching these same topics in the same way to other youth groups, but they were a little older. Anyway, I am a little worried that this could cause trouble for Peace Corps and reinforce some Belizeans' opinion that the US is trying to corrupt the people.

My Belizean friends sided with me and said the kids NEED to have the information, maybe even younger.  The other classes are going along fine, but I'm scared now, so I may not continue teaching the young ones after I meet my commitment through May.

I was officially put on a Pause status with POWA, meaning that I would not work them until things could be ironed out regarding my role and my relationship with my work partner. In the meantime, I certainly do not want to lose my friendships with the POWA members, so I have been visiting with them socially. In one case, I learned about an additional work project.

A little logo I made for their event
A small group of citizens (two of whom are POWA members) has formed Dangriga Youth Alive. Their focus is on raising funds for high school scholarships. They will hold a beach bash over the Easter weekend toward that end. Members of the organizing committee include the Community Relations Officer of the Police Department. He runs a group of kids called Police Cadets. There is another guy who runs the BDF (Belize Defense Force) Cadets. There is a woman who is a Girl Guides leader, and three parents. I will help them, and have done a few things already.

For one thing, they did a great job of keeping expenses down by getting contributions of supplies and prizes, but they needed more ideas for raising cash. Other than a fee from the food/snack vendors, and a percentage of the beer sales, they were basically providing free music and games for everybody for the gate admission of $1BZ.
I suggested some additional games that will appeal to kids and adults. They will pay to play them and have a chance to win prizes. The ever-popular CornHole, Fishing for Treasure, and others. We may have face painting for a shilling - $.25 BZ. That event is scheduled for April 8 and 9, Easter and Easter Monday.

Steve and I both will work at a health fair in Maya Center Village on March 9. It's an all-day fair focussed on senior citizens.

We need some pictures, right? How about puppies?! By this Friday I should have all them adopted out. Thank goodness. They are a LOT of work, and feeding them is expensive!

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