Tuesday, August 21, 2012

National Garifuna Council

Steve and I attended the bi-weekly regional meeting of the National Garifuna Council on Sunday the 19th. With Settlement Day only three months away, we were interested in participating in the preparations.

As background - Ms. Felicia Nunez, better known as Nen, had spoken to us about the meeting, asked us to attend and help with ideas. Nen's granddaughter was one of the GLOW Club girls for the summer, so we saw quite a bit of Nen. She is very active in the community, especially in ways that benefit the Garifuna culture. I would have to say that recently she has taken us under her wing a bit, to make sure we get the complete cultural experience while in Dangriga.

Felicia Nunez - Nen
We went over with Aidra Rodriguez, the co-leader of the girls club. When we arrived at the NGC building, the meeting had just started. We heard singing as we entered. After Steve and I introduced ourselves, the singing resumed. They had a song sheet with about 20 "celebration" songs, only two of which were in English. I did the best I could with the Garifuna, but Steve had no problem with it. Guess all those lessons are paying off! We sang about 5 songs. In Belize, it is traditional to begin a meeting with a prayer. This was the first one we attended that began with singing. Nice!

The president of the regional council is Phyllis Cayetano, another activist in Belize. She is also the head of Gulisi Primary School, the Garifuna school in Dangriga. Gulisi is Phyllis' passion, and she is very dedicated to the preservation of the Garifuna culture. As she says, "The children of Gulisi are the future of the Garifuna culture." By the way, she was our hostess when all of the PCVs came to Dangriga WAY back in March of 2011. Both of these pictures of Nen and Phyllis were taken on Culture Day.

Phyllis Cayetano
Once the business portion of the meeting got under way, things got very lively. They looked for ways to raise money (dues, raffles, casino night), and events activities to sponsor/raise funds for the next three months. They want to have a Garifuna fair for Belize Independence Day (September 21st) and a CultureFest for all cultures (Mayan, Mestizo, Kriol, Garifuna) in October. Of course, there will be MANY activities associated with Garfuna Settlement day on November 19th.

Steve and I were asked to create and run a health fair in early November. Steve will ask the Polyclinic administrator when we can have the nurses available for the fair to weigh, take blood pressure and blood sugar measurements. We want to pull together some good vendors and organizations that will be of interest and/or service. The POWA women can do HIV/AIDS and STI awareness. There are four primary schools nearby, so we will want to have some fun and interesting things for the kids, too. Not sure if there's room for games. We shall see. Nen told us she would help us with the fair.

By the end of the meeting there were at least 20 people there, some elderly, and some young. It was definitely a who's who of activists, and I loved meeting them for the first time or reacquainting with them. Looks like we will have some fun times with these new connections.


GLOW Club:  Aidra and I went to the NGC meeting because we wanted to get our Garifuna Glow Girls club name out in front of everybody. That will help us with fund raising for our club, and give us more opportunities for activities for the girls. They will march in the Settlement Day Parade and are very excited.

We are planning for a fund raiser at a "checkpoint" in two weeks. That means we stand at a speed bump and ask for money from people driving by. Most will give a dollar, and it's amazing how much money can be raised in a short time! The girls want to look like an official organization, so this Wednesday we will design a simple t-shirt design and then make them on Saturday.

We've been crafting, too.

Making necklaces from recycled bottle caps

Hammer the cap flat, spray paint it with a background color . . .

. . . and paint a pretty design. String a cord through.
Also, this past weekend, a PCV, Natalie Macias, from Orange Walk came to help us with the graphics for our Community Health Worker manual. Since she was at our house Saturday, she helped with the club meeting. Just so happens that she was a scholarship soccer player in college. So she led the girls in some football. They loved it!

Football at Alejo Beni Park


A Typical Peace Corps Day: Steve had an interesting time this week. This is the time of year when all the teachers in the country go to workshops - professional development. To keep the story short, I'll say that there were two aborted attempts at planning meetings, Steve made the conference room reservations, and nobody showed up. No calls, no texts, no mention of the fact that nobody showed up the next time he saw them.

So . . . when the week of the workshops rolled around, his counterpart walked in and said, "The workshops are tomorrow. Are you coming?" Of course, Steve said he would. Walked in the next morning, and Tylon said, "You can present NCDs, right?" That's Non-Communicable Diseases. Steve says, "Yes," and Tylon says, "That's good. It'll be tomorrow at 9:00."

Steve came home that afternoon and pulled together some Powerpoint slides and prepared for the presentation. Walked in the next morning and started to plug in his computer to the projector. Tylon says, "Oh, you're giving the Ministry presentation. The Powerpoint is on THIS computer." Would have been nice if he had mentioned it the day before, don'tcha think?

Anyway, at the end of the day, Steve had a few choice words with them, none of which I can repeat here.

Well, I had some pictures of him at the workshop, but I must have put them in a really safe place . . . .

Peace Corps Core Expectation #3 - Serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service.

Zumba: We have started back with classes. I will try to get a better place to hold class. For now, we will hold it at Alejo Beni Park on the stage.  I'm going today to talk to the Mayor to see if we can use the Town Hall.

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