Six days shy of 3 years abroad...

Trip Start Oct 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 27, 2011

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Flag of Guyana  ,
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Since this will be my last entry before we head to the Youth Empowerment Camp this friday, where we may not have access to electricity and running water let alone access to internet for 8 days, I will start off this entry with a few milestones. On August 9th I will have been 'living' abroad (I use the term loosely because aside from Korea I haven't really stayed in one place for very long) for 3 whole years, and when I think back to all that I have done it seems as though it must have been much longer. Yet at the same time it feels like just yesterday that I broke up with the man that I thought I was going to marry (thank God I didn't!!!), graduated university and went to Peru to study Spanish (all three events actually took place even longer than 3 years ago!) which more or less instigated the travel bug that caused me to be away for as long as I have been.  I will finally be coming home 'for good' (again I must say that loosely as well because I know I will be coming back to Guyana next May for 4 months to do my field research provided that I don't flunk out of school) on August 27th which is less than 4 weeks away, and while there is a part of me that is definitely sad, I am also very excited to come back to Canada with a fresh perspective on life and a little more life experience under my belt with which to begin another new chapter.

Over the last few weeks, I have also learned a few new things about myself a) I can live with a mouse in the house even when it jumps out of my roommates backpack when she trying to get her computer out of it or when it gnaws at the edge of my bed when I am trying to sleep, b) I can kill  and dispose of mutant grasshoppers and crickets when they enter our house in scores after the rain, and c) I did not spontaneously combust after stepping on a cockroach barefoot during a blackout, although that might only be because I didn't initially realize what it was until it occurred to me that nothing had been left on the ground that could make a bursting sound and sensation of that nature (thank God Leeann was around to tell me that I didn't actually step on anything at all and that I should stay in her room because she was not in fact cleaning anything in the hallway while yelling "eww, Oh God, Eww"!!).  Insignificant as they may seem, these are actually milestones far greater for me than living away from the comforts of home for 3 years, and I am sure you will all be proud ;)

In any case, these achievements will surely better prepare me for what is ahead of us starting Friday at the camp which the children are beyond excited about (I was just visiting the center yesterday and many of them swarmed me to ask details about the camp and to make sure we don't leave them behind)!  After I last posted about the success of the fundraising campaign and receiving the Roraima fund, I now have to mention perhaps the most important milestone- the fact that we earned about U.S. $150 more and have raised over U.S. $1500 total from the generous donations of community members here in Georgetown as well as many of you who donated online. I think the campaign was a huge success and am sending a big thank you and shout out to everyone for their generous support.  I very much look forward to updating you about the success of the camp (if I have any energy left) after we return two Saturday's from now... I am certain the camp is going to be great and the children are going to get a lot out of it while also having a lot of fun.

In the meantime, I just want to update you on the goings on of the last few days. I may or may not have mentioned that in early May we implemented a points system at Red Thread for the youth to improve their work ethic, participation at Red thread and essentially use any benefits they gain from that to do better in school.  We had some trials and tribulations as we went along (kids can always find good and convincing excuses for why deserve more and someone else deserves less... if only they could use those excellent reasoning and analytical skills for practical purposes!!), but in the end we chose 3 of the youth based on points scoring merit, and one boy who was consistently there to help the volunteers out with other students and their homework while we were overwhelmed with work ourselves.  As a reward, Pere and I took them out for swimming, Pizza and icecream on Sunday, and while I think they enjoyed it, the biggest reward for us was hearing them say that they wished the other children could have been there as well and that they should bring back some of their pizza for them. From where they started, to now, it sounds like the Youth Network has played a big role in enabling them to be more self relective and aware of how their actions affect themselves as well as others.

The following day I got the opportunity to join a group of women in a community about 20 minutes outside of Georgetown. Red Thread is trying to establish Community Outreach Groups for survivors of domestic violence in different regions of the country.  This was the first meeting that they held in that community through a core group of women which compose a church group.  It is always easier to organize with already established groups who can then network with other people rather than trying to start from scratch and then have things not really come together.  The difficulty still, is trying to convince women that even though domestic violence may not be affecting their lives directly, they should still take action because it has reverberating effects on the entire community (children that come from violent households are much more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence, and if a mother is just trying to survive physical abuse, what resources does she have left for parenting... many children end up at risk of living a life of delinquency even as adults).  For this reason, Red Thread attempts to train women in different communities about the laws surrounding domestic violence and sexual offences so that women who do experience this in their community have somewhere to turn for information if the police are not doing their jobs according to the law.  The meeting went well, except the women held some misconceptions about domestic violence (i.e. it doesn't exist in their community) as well as corporal punishment (it's the only way to effectively teach their children right from wrong), but those ways of thinking can only be addressed with further access to information.  Red Thread is planning to return to the community for a second meeting in the near future and it is yet to be seen how willing to work together the women will be on this issue.  After all, it is difficult to get people involved in caring for others when they have a thousand and one things to do to care for themselves and their own families.  As Wintress (one of the women from Red Thread) said however, "We all have little time and  a million things to do, but if we can find a little time here and a little time there, we can piece it together and accomplish a lot of work that would never otherwise have been done".  In a country where at least one woman is murdered a month due to domestic violence, the issue really is everybody's business and that little bit of time from each individual, could really make a big difference.

Anyway, I better get to work on my presentation for the Youth that I have to do on Self esteem... I have a feeling from the moment I post this blog to the moment we finish camp is going to be a an absolute blur from the flurry of activity ahead.  Wish me luck, and thanks again to everyone for their support of the camp!!!


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Niki on

Have a great time at the camp, Sis!! Thanks so much for all of your hard work - it sounds Red Thread is making an amazing difference in the community and you should feel proud of being a big part of that over the past few months.

However I can't wait to be selfish and have you to myself instead of sharing you with the world for a bit!!! XOXO

mishkabobala on

Thanks Niki! Good luck with the rest of your classes and exams and Congratulations on almost finishing your first year of Naturopathic Medicine! Can't wait to catch up when I get back! xox

Jess on

Three years is quite the accomplishment as is surving a mouse roomate! Im sure hes friendly..
Im glad youre on the path youre on now and not the one you intended :)
see you soon x

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