Sunday, March 25, 2012


Fu We Dog says HELLO
March 24 marked the one-year anniversary of our arrival in Belize. Bright-eyed with hope and wet behind the ears (even at our ages of 61 and 63), we stepped onto the tarmac at Goldston International Airport near Belize City.We had already spent a year and a half going through the application process, pushing, pushing, waiting, waiting for faster processing and admittance into the ranks of the elite few who are chosen for Peace Corps duty. I think that all of us in the group had high expectations and plans to save the world. Even though we had been told during orientation and through various emails, "You should not have expectations of what you can do in Belize," it is human nature for someone in our position to want to feel useful and needed.

One year later, here we are with a VERY different outlook. We have been through the "honeymoon" phase of service early on, and we've had some pretty deep low points, too. At the risk of jinxing our situation, I do believe that we are on a long-term upswing now, one that will last us our last 441 days of service (but who's counting?). We have integrated well into our community, with more than just a nodding acquaintance with many people, and a close relationship with a few special friends. Our neighbors treat us like . . . neighbors! We still get some folks who think we're tourists, but that's rare. As for our outlook on work in the Peace Corps, we have met with reality and survived.

Steve is such a disciplined and positive person that he just forced himself to carry on, even while we drifted in the doldrums of the PC seas. (Oh, I worry about my imagery here. Are you gagging yet?) I have always used the "One Day at a Time" philosophy when confronted by a bad situation. However, I did set myself a deadline for improvement in the work situation (as in - OK, I'm outta here), and would have acted upon it if there were no change. We are pleased to say that all the waiting has paid off!

Our project assignment is to update and revise the training manual for Community Health Workers, and to insure that they have an effective training methodology and workable delivery system. The Community Health Workers are essentially volunteers in the community, mostly women, who educate and serve as a local resource for residents in small villages. They are given a very small stipend, $100BZ per  month, which is typically used for transportation. Training for these CHWs is provided by HECOPAB - The Health Education and Community Participation Bureau (of Belize) - and other NGOs, such as UNDP, World Bank, and MedicForce.

On the local level, they have been using a training manual that was created in the early 70s. Peace Corps management was approached by Ms. Arlette Sheppard, the director with the Ministry of Health in charge of the Community Health Workers. She asked if PC could help to revise and update their training manual. With Steve as the team leader, and I as the primary writer/production person, we will have meaningful, important work that will carry on past our stay here in Belize. And we believe it will have such a positive impact on the health of the people of Belize!

Planning has already begun, we are recruiting team members, and Ms. Sheppard will conduct a needs assessment. We have a rough outline that has been approved, so there's nothing to stop us from moving forward. Needless to say, we are both thrilled.

I will be thinking of this as my day job, with secondary projects teaching HFLE, and helping Dangriga Youth Alive with their fund-raiser event over the Easter holiday. There is also a possibility that I will help establish a girl's GLOW (Girls Lead Our World) club here in Dangriga. More about that in the next exciting installment!

Fu We Dog is getting BIG. Age 14 Weeks. I've expanded the collar twice.

1 comment:

Jim Weaver said...

Time does fly, doesn't it? The rest will also. I believe you folks will not be able to look at life in the US the same way when you return. Keep up the good work.
Jim Weaver