Hey all, so its been a while since our last blog post… I know you are probably all waiting with bated breath to hear everything we’ve been up to, so we thought it was about time to let you in on all the fun and exciting things we’ve been doing since our arrival in the Belize District!
It all started with a long, sweaty bus ride from San Igancio on Sunday afternoon. A few of us almost missed it, but thankfully we’re all in peak physical condition (lol) and were able to make the quick sprint from our guesthouse to the bus station. Back in Belize City again, a quick cab ride had us back at the Balam, eating order-in Pepper’s Pizza and planning for the week.
On Monday both Peer Ed and Teaching visited our contact at the Ministry of Education: the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum coordinator, where we received the list of schools we would be teaching at and directions on how to get there. Teaching left right afterwards to begin their day of lessons, and Peer Ed called up our trusty cab driver, Tyrone, to hitch a ride to the BFLA. We met with the matron, who we had first met at our open house in Belmopan the week prior, and she sent us to the BFLA’s primary care clinic just down the road. The nurses and administrators at the clinic asked for our help to plan and implement a support group for young mothers; recently the clinic has seen a large influx of teen mothers, most of whom are largely unaware of the necessary care, nutrition, and medical attention their babies require both during pregnancy and afterwards.
Another big problem that they encounter revolves around social stigma created by the laws in Belize. It is illegal for a man over eighteen to impregnate a woman under this age, unless he marries and financially supports her. The result is that many teen mothers whose childrens’ fathers are older than 18 end up skipping doctors appointments or avoiding the clinic altogether for fear that their partners will get in trouble with the law. One of the big aims of our support group is to reinforce the confidentiality of services offered by the NHI BFLA clinic, as well as the fact that its is essential, for both their own and their children’s health, to attend appointments.
So we have been spending our mornings creating and editing resources for our teen mother support group. Nathan, with his amazing computer artistry, created an amazing logo, and Tashu, Alex and I have been working on factsheets and a brochure. All in all a very productive week, and we are meeting with Nurse Raquena at the clinic this aft to update her on our progress and present her with the various materials we have created. Hopefully our contributions will be enough to help the clinic get the YMS group off the ground!
Teaching has been going well too! Classes were cancelled on Monday for primary school exams, but Alex and Tashu have been teaching at Gwen Liz and Nathan and I have been working with a really awesome group of kids at Maud Williams on the southside. Its been interesting to us to see how the relevant issues for highschoolers differ between the city and the slightly more rural Cayo district we just left. In Cayo we created new kit material on mental health to address the recent suicides in Benque Viejo del Carmen and Santa Elena, and here we have been asked to incorporate materials on grief and death, due to the number of students who experience the loss of friends and family members as a result of violent crime in the city.
Overall , Belize City has presented Peer Ed with a new set of challenges which I feel, for the most part, we have risen to. We are enjoying our last afternoon here with a stop at our very favourite lunch spot, D’s diner, for a killer meal of rice and beans, chicken, potato salad and plaintain. Tonight we move on to Dangriga in the Stann Creek district so that we can meet with the BFLA nurses and plan our open house, then on Saturday we move south yet again to Punta Gorda, to tackle the Toledo dictrict! Busy busy busy!
Thanks for reading, and hopefully it won’t be quite so long as last time until you hear from us again!
-Ryan, on behalf of Peer Ed!