Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Back to Work!

After celebrating for two weeks, Belize has settled back down to its regular routine. Kids are back in school, businesses are back to their regular schedules. A lot of people leave on holiday, but the majority have returned.

And Steve is BACK from the States. He returned Monday, the 16th (is that tax day back home?) from a fun visit with kids, grandkids, and his sister, Nancy. I asked him what he thought about the differences between here and there. He said it was cold (down to 58 degrees, and he was wearing four layers), and it was hard to find things in the store because there was so much in the stores.

Well, I felt like I worked a lot during the two Easter weeks. Dangriga Youth Alive (DYA) beach bash took a lot of effort and time. I also helped one of the DYA members apply for a training in cultural tourism (which she won!). DYA had a debriefing meeting to talk about what worked and didn't, how much money was spent and how much was earned. Ah, me, there wasn't a very large net - just a couple hundred dollars :-( But several to-dos (big ones) came out of the meeting, and I will have a role in helping them with all those things. I'll write about them as they come up.

What we're working on now is Thank You's to the sponsors and donors of the event. I wrote a message text that will be put on cable TV which included the names of them all. I think it's $16BZ to have a message played all day. There are one or two channels that run them - obits, job opportunities, happy birthdays, etc. I personally don't watch those channels, but some people keep their TVs on those stations most of the day, listening to the music and reading the messages. We are also going to make handwritten thank you notes for each sponsor. Steve brought back a PRINTER!!!! and I will make some nice note cards with the DYA logo (which I created for them). Yeah, that's the Drums of Our Fathers sculpture in the middle there, recognized easily by all Dangrigans.

On the day that Steve flew back, I was in Belmopan attending a meeting with the HECOPAB (Health Education and Community Participation Bureau) health educators. These are the people, like Mariza with whom Steve works, who train Community Health Workers. There are eight of them right now, with two more to be hired in the next few months. My purpose at the meeting was to meet them and discuss the training manual/training plan that is our current project. They are a very dedicated and enthusiastic group, and I feel that we'll get a lot of help from them.

The leader of this group is Arlette Sheppard. I am so impressed with this woman. She is new to the position as director of HECOPAB. I found out she was one of 10 nominees for Belize's Woman of the Year for 2012, an award sponsored by the US Embassy. Here's a little write-up I took from the awards speech made by Ambassador Vinai K. Thummalapally.

Arlette Sheppard serves as Director and Health Education Officer of the Health Education and Community Participation Bureau.  Her work at the Ministry of Health consistently reflects her professionalism, enthusiasm and humanity.  She oversees some 250 community health workers who provide health education, services and care to towns and villages which have little or no access and which otherwise would have to do without.

Well, this group has a very ambitious schedule for the project, and we're looking at just three months to produce the first four chapters, and do a trial run with a group of Community Health Workers (everybody here says "CHWs"). There are currently 247 CHWs in the country, all of whom they want to retrain. But the plan is to have one CHW for every 250 people in a village, and that's going to mean recruiting A LOT more people. For instance, the village Steve and I lived in during pre-service training, Camalote, has one CHW now. The population is about 1500, so theoretically they would add another five CHWs.

There is to be an inflow of funds from the World Bank and a Japanese NGO that will be focussed on children's health. To carry out the project, they need trained CHWs. That money starts flowing in September. Yikes!!

Needless to say, I'm writing, I'm editing, I'm working on graphics. Steve is the team leader. He is recruiting writers, short- and long-terms team members. Our big need is someone who can do the illustrations. HECOPAB members really want the pictures to be culturally appropriate, not just some random graphic from the Internet. And we don't have any money to pay an illustrator, so we need an altruistic illustrator. Please ask your friends. Anybody in the world (who has access to Internet) can do this job; it doesn't have to be someone in Belize.

New topic: I'm so glad to be back teaching Zumba after a two-week break. Feels so good, and the group still grows - routinely more than 20 at each class :-)

OK, I'm done wrote-out. Sorry we don't have art this time, not even any new puppy pictures. The next two weeks promise to be extremely busy with meetings in Belmopan, so it will probably be awhile till our next entry. Everybody take care.

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