Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Settlement Day - Unveiling of the Mural AND the Parade

Monday was Garifuna Settlement Day (a national holiday in Belize) and the day before was full of preparations as well as its own events. The biggest Sunday event was in the evening with the unveiling ceremony for Mr. Pen Cayetano’s mural on the north wall of the town council hall.

Cultural entertainment played a big part, and the GLOW girls performed a short version of the Chumba, which is a traditional dance. They looked great in their matching traditional dresses, and all the practice seemed to have paid off since they were nearly perfect.

On the way to the performance

Nervous girls just before dancing

These boys focused on the view of the sea

After the unveiling, Mr. Cayetano spoke about the culture and the ancestors and explained all the parts of the mural including who the characters were and what the events meant in the history of the Garifuna people. Several times he mentioned that during the months of working alone with the mural he sometimes did not feel alone. Instead he felt that the ancestors were all around him as he worked.

Hayawadina Wayunagu
(Literal translation - Imagery of our Ancestors)

Pen's interpretation

Monday started early for us, but it was not the re-enactment of the arrival at dawn that occupied us. The float for the parade later in the day was over at Norielee’s house where she had worked her magic on a simple trailer. She had turned it into a small jungle with real plants that are part of Garifuna culture. Cathy and I took the giant tissue paper flowers that she had made. We attached them to each post of the side wall of the trailer. On the way back home we passed people who had been to the river for the re-enactment which was over.

Norie was "fluffing the stamens" on the tissue flowers.

At mid-morning we wolfed down a snack and prepared for the arrival for the GLOW girls to get dressed again in their traditional costumes to wear in the parade.

When the float arrived in the staging area, I took the banner to hang on the front of the truck so none of the girls would have to carry it. It was covered with small tissue paper flowers of black, white, and yellow. Norielee was there making last minute additions to her mini-jungle, and fortunately I had brought twine and lots of duct tape. It was certainly a MacGyver moment.

The handmade-duct-taped-on banner

When the float moved into position, I called Cathy who came running with the girls to hop on the float. Several girls were late, and one girl just forgot about the parade. Aidra arrived for the second half of the parade and took over so that we could come home and sit and re-hydrate.

And the parade begins. Norie really ran the show.

Aidra and Cathy. Aidra made all the dresses.

That night, Ava made a pot of spaghetti and meat sauce and brought it over for a relaxed supper.

Here are just a few pictures of those beautiful girls.



Comani and Shae




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Settlement Day 2012 - Chumba Dance Rehearsal

Did I mention in yesterday's blog that we are pretty busy during this November? As soon as we finished cleaning up from the NGC Health Fair, I had to jump right in to the next fun activity - the GLOW girls' dance rehearsal.

First a little background: Pen Cayetano, international artist AND musician, has painted an historic mural on the wall in the Town Hall. It depicts the history and people of Garifuna culture. I've seen it (while he was working on it) and it is fantastic. It WILL become a Belizean treasure. The unveiling of the picture is slated for the afternoon of Sunday, November 18, and Pen asked our GLOW Girls to perform at the grand opening!!! What an honor.

More background: Pen has a boy's group that meets with him once or twice a week. He teaches drumming, life skills (mainly by setting a good example) and Garifuna culture and values. You might notice some similarities in what he's doing with the boys and what we do with the GLOW girls. He and I talked about each other's groups a couple times, and Ingrid taught her thread painting for one of our activities.

While we were in the US, Ingrid and I corresponded and she told me that Pen wanted the girls to dance. Yay! So Aidra took the girls' measurements, bought fabric for dresses, and will make 12 very authentic, very traditional Garifuna dresses. We will also use them when we walk/ride the float in the Settlement Day Parade. So the girls came by yesterday afternoon, and we walked to Pen's house/gallery/studio so they could learn the dance.  The drumming was great and the boys and girls were so cute. The rest of this blog is a picture story. Enjoy!

Pen and the boys demonstrated first.
And then the girls gave it a shot.
The Chumba is a traditional Garifuna dance depicting women's
work. In this dance, the girls make cassava bread, wash laundry,
hang the clothes, and sweep.
And jump!
You can see the studio walls from this shot. The art matches
the characters in the children's book written by Ingrid and two of
her children.
It took a little practice till they got it all together :-)
Then the boys showed us some moves.
Jankanu dancing. The boys dance (individually) and the drummer
follows the lead of the dancer.
Well, all I can say is, "You had to be there."

Lots more going on this week, folks, so maybe another entry sometime Saturday. Sunday is the unveiling, and Monday is Settlement Day. Stay tuned :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Settlement Day 2012 - NGC Health Fair

Steve and I are so thrilled to be busy this November with many of the activities of Settlement Day. Last year,  we attended some of the events - Miss Garifuna Pageant, traditional dance performances, youth presentations, the Re-enactment, and the parade - but only as a tourist would experience them. This year we are in the thick of things.

Felicia Nunez
She is "Fel" to some, "Nen" to others
Back in August, we wrote about our meeting with the National Garifuna Council. The meeting served as a brainstorming session to create ideas and recruit volunteers for a long line-up of events in November leading up to the 19th, Settlement Day. Steve and I agreed to organize a health fair for them. Other than some broad guidelines as to which days would be appropriate, and a promise that we could use that same meeting place as the venue, we had a blank slate to create the fair.

We didn't do much before we left for our vacation in the U.S. Because a commitment from the Polyclinic was foremost in our minds as key to the success of the health fair, Steve got them locked in. I talked with one of the POWA women, and they also agreed to participate. So - we had a start, both of them based on who we worked with. YAY! We had a chat with our NGC liason, Ms. Felicia Nunez, about what issues we needed answers to. She promised to carry those concerns to the NGC at their next meeting while we were in the States.

Phyllis Cayetano
Ms. Caye
Then we visited family and friends and forgot all about it for two fun-filled weeks. (STILL miss you all SO MUCH!)

Once we returned, we had about a week and a half to pull it all together. I was right in my element. I love organizing events, especially tending to all the details. Ms. Nen had gone to Surinam (!) for a leadership and women's rights conference, so we worked directly with Ms. Phyllis Cayetano, the chairman of the Dangriga NGC. She is a mover and a shaker, has been an activist in the community for years.

On Wednesday before the fair, we joined Ms. Caye and two other men in charge of other activities at the studios of Hamalali Radio. Steve and I each had a chance to talk about the health fair and invite people to "come on out" to our event.

With Ms. Caye.
The two guys in the foreground are DJs for the station. The one
on the right is named Rugged.
We thought you might enjoy hearing Mr. Francis Marin speak. He is the principal of the ANRI High School (Agricultural emphasis high school). In this clip, he is talking about the three "hats" that he wears.

Everybody got a sticker
The rest of the week was taken up with making signs and banners, stickers, handouts, 200 small bags of popcorn to give the kids, running around to some of the different participants and several schools to make sure all those ducks were lined up. I also went back to the radio station to get several hours worth of Garifuna music to play on my big Block Rocker. Steve managed the logistics for the tables and chairs, and liaised with some of the other participants. Of course, Steve and I were also WORKING at our own tables at the fair, too. So that meant pulling that stuff together, too.

The day arrives! We were up early (we always get up early), with all our materials ready, and Ms. Caye picked us up in her husband's pickup truck.

Setup was fun!

Deluxe decorations for the outdoor tent

Steve figured out how to  hang the sign so it wouldn't
"bust up" from the wind

Mr. Roy Cayetano helped us haul stuff
We had a surprise visit from TWO carloads of Peace Corps staff. They arrived just at start time and stayed about an hour. That really gave us a boost!

Denise Diaz
Nina Hernandez, Country Director

Ellen, PCV from Belize City, came to help us. She joined up with me at our Healthy Lifestyle table.


Once we got under way, we had a few adults and LOTS of school kids.

Steve explains Incaparina to kids from
Epworth Methodist Primary School

Kids from Gulisi Community School at one of the booths

Nurse Laverne, from the Polyclinic, demonstrates how to
take someone's blood pressure to students from
Sacred Heart Primary School
Ellen came up with a fun game for all the kids. It was a relay race with two teams competing. Players run up to a judge and answer a true/false question about exercise. If they get it right, they run back right away and tag the next person in line to run. If they get it wrong, they have to spin around 3 times (or so) before they can run back. Here's a little sample.

Here are just a couple more pictures. We had a great time, and got home very tired but feeling satisfied with the event.

Nella (from POWA) and Ms. Nen talking about herbs and
natural medicine

Aidra came to see us, too. Here she is with Ellen at our
Lifestyle table. In the foreground you can see the nutrition
basket I made to help illustrate examples of a healthy diet.

And . . . winding down.