Monday, September 17, 2012

A Dance Item and a Disappointment in Orange Walk

Last week began what seems like a month-long holiday. Monday was St. George's Day and Tuesday was Carnival Day. Wednesday Dangriga had the Talent Showcase, and on Friday the primary schools held their big rah-rah rally!

Our Garifuna Glow Girls wanted to perform for the Talent Showcase on Wednesday. We didn't have much notice - about 5 days - so we had to keep things simple. The girls were already familiar with several dance routines, taken from music videos, so they made the decision to pull something together from that.

I volunteered to have the girls practice at my house. About 9 girls showed up on Sunday afternoon. More than an hour was spent selecting music and trying to download it. The songs they wanted were NOT available from anywhere online, and they wouldn't believe that it couldn't be found.

"No, Miss. Right there on YouTube."

"Yes, girls, it's on YouTube, but that's a video, not music. I can't find only the song to download." And I tried some of those so-called YouTube downloaders, but none worked. I guess Google has found a way to disable them.

Steve helped me record it from YouTube played through the computer speakers, so the quality was AWFUL. Girls didn't care.

As the girls left on that first day, they all agreed to come back the next day at 1:00, and I followed with my usual, "And don't be late."

When 1:00 o'clock rolled around Monday morning (St. George's Day, remember? So there was no school.), and no one arrived I wasn't surprised. One girl showed up at 1:15 and she had a good reason for being late. Aliyah is one of the "good ones," usually punctual, quick to volunteer, very polite. By 1:30 we had 4 girls here, but we waited some more before practicing. The de facto leader still wasn't there, and we felt like she knew the routine the best. (I certainly didn't know it.) They finally started rehearsing and we broke up about 3:00.

As I walked out with the girls, we saw four other club members strolling up the street toward the house. I kindly but firmly told them that practice was over and that I was very disappointed in their lateness, that it showed disrespect for their club mates and for me.

I don't know any other way to put this. Few girls here have been taught social skills. The four girls just stood there gawking, speechless. So I gave them the words to use. "The nice thing to say would be, 'I'm sorry, Miss Cathy. I messed up and I won't do it again.'" Those poor girls could still not get a single syllable out of their mouth, just stood there. Some looked down at their feet, another gave a half smile, and got a little tear (of embarrassment?). Another turned on her heel and just walked away. I waited a few moments, never got anything from the latecomers, and walked away with the other girls. As we walked away, I told them that last rehearsal was the next day after school.

This is dragging on too long, but I guess I'm trying to get across the basic frustration I live with on a daily basis. I did call the girls' mothers to tell them that their daughters had let us down and that I was disappointed in them. I also emphasized how each girl was special and that I thought they were special (which is true!). Each mother said she would talk with her daughter.

The next day - 4 girls showed up and practiced. Here's a sample:

The little girl in pink in the front row is the only one who came to all 3 rehearsals.

There's more, but I'm tired of writing about it. Short version, to get this whole show on the road, I  -

  • Called Town Council
  • Called Police Department
  • Called 4 principals
  • Called Central Education Center
  • Helped the girls settle on what to wear and where to meet and when
I had to leave for Orange Walk the next day (see next section), so Aidra was taking over to make sure they did what they needed to do for the Wednesday performance. In the end, two girls showed up and one refused to dance. No dance item for the Garifuna Glow Girls. Sigh.

But they do look cute, don't you think?


Several weeks ago, Peace Corps Volunteer Natalie Macias invited me to come to Orange Walk Town to teach a Zumba class to a small women's group. I agreed and looked forward to seeing a part of Belize that was new to me. 

It's a L-O-O-O-N-G bus ride, close to 6 hours I decided to take my big speaker - my Block Rocker - so we'd have good sounds for the class. It weighs a little over 20 pounds, but it's got wheels and good handles. It's manageable. I just have to be careful to make sure nobody "thief" it.

So I rode up on Wednesday morning. Natalie met me and we had lunch at a cool restaurant (air conditioned), and did some power shopping at A&R (sort of like Target). Natalie has a great house, a sweet fun dog, and a nice music collection. On Wednesday night, we met another PCV, Barbara Levy, and had shrimp ceviche and Belikin Beer at a fun spot. The only thing they sell at the restaurant is shrimp ceviche (except when conch is in season; then they also have conch ceviche). And I saw something that I never would have believed. Mennonite men sitting around drinking beer. They weren't even eating, just drinking. Natalie said there's a group of "very progressive" Mennonites in the OW area.

Thursday morning, we went early to the library, where the Zumba class was to be held. Natalie said the women's group was small, usually about seven, but a very enthusiastic and outspoken group. They meet once a week and have a different speaker or program each week. They had been looking forward to this fun class and even joked about what they would wear. The librarian texted everybody at 9:00 to remind them about the session. Class was to start at 10:00.

You guessed it - nobody came. By 10:50, I was disgusted and ready to pack up. One of the women walked in with her two kids. "Where's everybody?" The librarian "railed up" on her, but of course it fell on deaf ears. She said, "Well, I couldn't come because I had family court." She kept talking about family court. I asked her how it went in family court and she said, "Well, I didn't have it because I never called them back." Not quite sure what that was all about.

So I showered and got back on the bus. On the Belize to Belmopan leg of the ride, I had an interesting conversation with some guys who were ranting about how Peace Corps was trying to teach children in Belize to be homosexuals and that the anus is a sexual organ. They were getting pretty excited about it. I decided to speak up, identify myself, and set the record straight. They were referring to the HFLE curriculum, of course, which has been in the news a lot lately (see this link: HFLE PAGE LISTINGS and brief descriptions of issues). By the end of the conversation, I think five people believed me, and the last guy wasn't going to change his mind no matter what. It was fun and cordial, and I think the people appreciated hearing a reasonable dissenting view.


So that's about it for me. Here's a picture of the journals that the Garifuna Glow Girls made. They are writing in them a little each week - about their name, their strengths and weaknesses, goals - topics like that. Some of the girls are enthusiastic, and some do bare minimum - just like school!


Steve here. This week I traveled to the satellite clinics in Pomona and Hopkins with Mr. Tillett who is the nutrition social worker for the district. We went through all the charts of babies and children up to 5 years old to check on their growth charts. We picked out those that may be in trouble and compiled a list for home visits if they do not come in sometime soon for their routine immunizations. We have great data on how many kids are served by each clinic and how many of them are underweight and what their ages are and their genders are. 

Hopkins clinic

Nurse Martinez at Hopkins Clinic

Pomona Clinic
It was a good week for keeping in touch. I was able to video chat with my son and was able to talk to both sisters on the phone. We all look forward to getting together next month in the US.

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