Big Ups and farewell to Belize City!

Two weeks here in Belize City have flown by faster than we scarf down our daily rice and beans! Though time is going quickly, this past week has probably been our busiest and most productive yet.

This past Saturday, QHO made its first Belizean TV debut! The BFLA Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) produces a weekly TV show called BigChatz on Love TV. The show was wrapping up its fourth season on Saturday and we were lucky enough to be invited to the live taping! This week’s show was a recap of the season which covers topics of sexual and reproductive health, youth relationships and much more. The show has everything from giveaways, a hotline, fashion expositions and special guests from the community. We were honoured when host ‘Lady Spice’ gave QHO a shout out at the end of the episode. We wish them the best in the upcoming season starting this July.

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We continued in our second week at the YWCA and it was an absolute pleasure. Sarah and Braden kept the girls on their toes through the beginning of the week, giving fun and informative lessons on sexual and reproductive health. From healthy relationships to HIV/AIDS, contraception to consent, we covered as many topics as we could to help inform these delightful young women about the realities of sexual health. Counselor Ms. Martinez, Principal Ms. Sanchez and General Secretary of the YWCA Ms. Linarez could not have been warmer, more accommodating and more excited to have us spending our mornings at the Y. Taylor and Dave, busy teaching elsewhere for the beginning of the week, joined Sarah and Braden for our last lesson with these girls. Emotions were running high to say the least – the class opened up to us so much over our brief stay and it was difficult to say goodbye. We wrapped up with warm and fuzzies (a QHO favourite), where each student writes compliments and kind words to their fellow students. It was also great to see the girls remembering our material during a final round of jeopardy. 

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Taylor and Dave had an exceptionally busy week at Sadie Vernon High School. Counselor Ms. Valerio exceeded our expectations – over the course of the week, the two taught over 25 hours of class at this school alone! Topics covered were specific to each form: form 1 focused on values, bullying and peer pressure; form 2 lessons revolved around decision making and relationships; while the form 3 classes were taught all about reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and STIs. Students were as engaged as ever, asking excellent questions and enjoying activities, though for some reason they had a hard time accepting the news that, no, David and Taylor are not a couple!

Sarah and Braden split the rest of their time between the BFLA, Anglican Cathedral College (ACC) and Gwen Lizarraga High School. This week’s information booth at ACC covered self esteem and body image. Similar to last week, the team helped organize and run activities that provided relevant information for the students to check out during their lunch break. The Send-a-Smile activity was a huge hit, where students wrote anonymous compliments on smiley faces that were delivered to their lucky recipients the next day by peer helpers. It was great to see such a positive response. At the BFLA, the team helped brainstorm ideas and exchange resources for an upcoming reproductive health web series with Ms. Maki and Ms. Kendra. The 12 show series is a work in progress and they hope to have it completed by the end of the summer. We are excited to see the finished product! At Gwen Lizzaraga High School, Counselor Ms Middleton was very helpful organizing a group of students for an after school peer leadership training program. The students are very outspoken and have expressed a strong interest in making changes in the school and community, especially in the areas of bullying, peer pressure and boosting students’ self esteem. 

More exciting news from the secondary project! We have been in preliminary talks with the Department of Youth Services, in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. The goals of this department align well with our goals of creating youth leaders and promoting different areas of health to youth. After meeting with Ms Crawford, Planner (and future Director) and Mr Middleton, the manager of the SRH unit, we have discussed different ways in which our organizations can work together in compliment, and we look forward to building the relationship further for future projects. 

Today, we had a delicious experience at the Smokin Balam. Anna invited us into her kitchen to teach us how to make rice and beans! After 2 hours of chopping, mixing and frying, our appreciation for the work that goes into our daily lunch time meal has grown. Thanks to Anna’s tips and recipes, we might be able to cook some Belizean cuisine when we get home. 

Tomorrow we are getting up at 3:30 A.M to take part in the annual Belize Cancer Walk from Ladyville to Belize City. The walk is nine miles and brings out over a thousand people! We are looking forward to seeing the community come together for this great cause.

Saturday we leave Belize City for our final location, Sarteneja in Corozal! While we are sad to leave Belize City, we are excited to see what this new district has to offer.

– LadyBurp, the Juicer, Swoob and 110

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