Monday, June 21, 2010

This One's For My Aunt...

I just love her!

Rasta sure is growing and she is so much fun to have around! She enjoys climbing on everything, exploring in the yard, playing with toys, cords and occasionally bugs…she is really good at capturing moths and cockroaches. The other day I was in my apartment and I heard her meowing I opened my front door expecting to see her looking up at me but she was nowhere insight but I could still hear her. Then I heard a clinking on my window. She was stuck between the bars, poor kitty.

We stayed up late on Thursday night to witness the final Laker game! I have not been able to watch a lot of the NBA season so it was good to watch an entire game. I am so glad they won!! Chels and I represented LA by wearing our purple and yellow.

The other night as I was walking home I saw a big fire right by the front of my house. One might think that seeing a big fire in front of their house would be cause for alarm but here it’s normal. It was our neighbor burning the remains from his tree he cut down a few weeks ago.
It totally looked like a bonfire.

Hair Up Date:

I received a very special package from a sweet and thoughtful lady I use to work with at The Whole Wheatery. After she read my blog on losing my hair she wrote me saying she was sending me a care package full of hair vitamins. Thanks Madge :)

I really appreciate everyone’s concern, love and support it means so much! I have talked to a number of volunteers and they say it’s normal and happens quite frequently to volunteers their reasoning is the constant stress and sweat. I sure hope my body regulates soon.

Work this week has been really slow but I am starting on my site report that I will be presenting at the reconnect conference in July. I went to a history exhibit to try and get some history on Linden. There wasn't much but I did get to watch a video on the beginning of the bauxite factory and life in Linden during the 50's when things were booming. It was pretty interesting.

I also went with Chelsea on Saturday to the Youth Friendly Service clinic at her health center. This is her project and she has done a great job with it. It was fun playing games and talking to the kids.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Good Weekend

It was so good to see fellow PCV's and celebrate Jason's birthday!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Randomness of Guyana

Two events took place this week…one really random but good the other I should have expected and known there was going to be some fiasco and frustration.
The first random event was being asked to fill in for an older PCV discussing the topic Risky Behavior at a secondary school (high school). I was asked to do this Monday morning and thought I would be teaching on Wednesday, turns out, after getting a call Monday evening I would need to be at the school ready to teach at 9am Tuesday morning. Luckily the volunteer emailed me her outline, I just had to make a few adjustments.
So Tuesday morning I took the bus for the first alone across the river and up the hill to the school. I reached the school office at 8:45am and told the receptionist who I was and what I was doing there. She gave me that look I have grown so familiar to, the look of “What? Who are you? And what are you doing here?” She then said testing was going on all day and she knew nothing about what I was talking about. I told her I would just wait for the person in charge and she would be there just now…not knowing for sure how long that might be. As I was sitting there waiting and reading over my notes a teacher came to ask me what I was there for. I was honest with her and said, “I really don’t know what’s happening, I just got asked to be here at 9am and talk about risky behavior.”
Around 9:20am the facilitator arrived and we walked to the auditorium where there are 40+ kids sitting in desks facing the stage with 2 tables and 4 chairs, it was set up for a panel discussion. The facilitator was not happy with the set up and that our time got cut short due to the testing. I told her it would be fine, we would just make the lecture shorter. After introductions I took over and had the kids write about where they see themselves in 5 years…what are their hopes and dreams? I love this activity especially here because kids don’t really get asked that question; I was so happy and impressed with some of their goals and career choices…surgeons, pilots, dancers, lawyers, teachers, bankers, and basketball players. It was interesting to see that many of them wanted to move out of Guyana to pursue these dreams while others wanted to change Guyana. Then we moved on to talk about risky behavior, self-esteem and assertiveness. We had them play a fact and myth game about HIV and then we gave them a snack.
Overall, I think it went well and I am happy I got to teach and interact with these kids. I think they understood the message we presented and I hope they follow their dreams. At the end of the sessions she had 3 prizes to give out to the kids who participated and who were well behaved. She told me to pick two, so I picked two boys one of which I thought participated well in the HIV game and the other asked good questions and had good insight. Later she told me those boys were the last ones she would have picked…interesting.
P.S. as I was eating my snack a boy came up to me and handed me a strand of my hair (seeing as I shed like crazy here) and he said it was nice. I thought it was so funny.
"What does the word risk mean?"

The other event took place on Thursday. It was the day of our elderly club meeting at the health center and the goal of the day was to have a cooking demonstration to show healthier ways to cook i.e. using less salt and oil. I was really excited for this, as this is one of my project ideas. On Wednesday afternoon I talked with my supervisors to make sure everything was set for Thursday morning and they assured me everything was good to go. So Thursday morning I packed up my blender, knife, cutting board, and grater, shopped by to pick up some vegetables and made it to the health center a little after 8am, ready to wash and prepare my vegetables.
Low and behold, we were not ready to start cooking…we did not have the head for the gas tank, which was suppose to have been resolved days earlier. This really frustrated me and 45 minutes passed by as the nurses tried to call people to see about getting a head. I said I would go get my electric stove, seeing as its super light and potable. So me and another nurse walked to the boat landing, took the boat across the river and walked to my house, which round trip takes about 40 minutes. We returned a little after 10:00, the club members where there and patiently waiting in the waiting room while no preparation took place. Once I started doing things some nurses helped and I’m glad they did because there were about 20 club members there and that’s a lot of food to cook. Meanwhile they liked to point out everything I did wrong/different which started to bother me but I just kept reminding myself that they do things differently and it was a learning experience for me as well.
We ended up making rice with split peas, ground provisions, a veggie stir fry and homemade fruit juice. I used little salt and added ginger powder for seasoning to the veggies. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We even run out of the stir fry. I am glad over all it was a success but I don’t know how soon I want to hold another cooking demonstration.
Medex giving a health talk to the club

Demonstration of the prepared food

I am glad the week is over and I am going to visit other PCVs for the weekend. It will be good to go somewhere new and see people I have not seen in 2 months. One more month until our week long reconnect!

Monday, June 7, 2010

4 Months

It's been 4 months since I arrived in Guyana and only…22 months to go! I am glad time is going by fast, I can’t believe how fast the days pass.
In 4 months time I have left a life waiting for me in the states, lived with an Indo-Guyanese family, eaten foods I never thought I would eat, participated in a parade, talent and fashion show, attended a 5 hour Mandir, mastered public transportation, swam in the muddy Atlantic Ocean, slept in a hammock, gotten eaten alive by mosquitoes, moved to Linden and settled in with my housemates, made some great friendships, started work at the health center, turned 24, passed by numbers of cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, stray dogs and their messes, grown accustom to the many sounds of Guyana: horns, alarms, Chutney music, sirens and yelling men interrupting songs (that’s a story in itself), roosters crowing at all hours of the day, rain falling on tin roofs (SO loud), men sipping, and frogs and other bugs through out the night.
The first few months have been an emotional and challenging roller-coaster ride but it’s also been great figuring out my life in Guyana and I look forward to the next few months!
Fresh off the plane & greeted with a coconut

Today is also my grandma’s birthday and Tim and Chelsea’s one-year anniversary. Happy celebrations!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Check This Out

check this out
This is the link to a newspaper article about our swearing in ceremony, which took place on March 30, 2010.

So, it is Saturday morning and I have been up for 5 and a half hours already. Chelsea and I went for a 45-minute walk and did some yoga to start out the day. After making some oatmeal and coffee and taking a quick shower I have been sitting at the computer…it’s not like I have piles of laundry to wash or sweeping to do or projects to work on or applications to fill out…I am such a good procrastinator. Anyway, I have been reading fellow Peace Corps Volunteers blogs, mostly from the remote regions and I must admit I can’t believe how different their sites sound from my fairly comfortable and convenient set up. They actually live in huts, with no electricity, running water, toilet, or market. And they have to hike for hours to “near by” villages to get the Internet and any type of grocery food. When I feel like I am cheating the PC experience because I have running water, electricity, a market that’s open everyday, and the Internet at my finger tips I remind myself that everyone’s experience is different and unique and we just face different challenges. But after reading their blogs I can’t wait to go visit!

Also, check out our NEW food blog it's full of our creative, experimental recipes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Things Are Looking Up

For the first time since being in Guyana I feel really good about things, it’s exciting to be here and apart of Peace Corps. Its pretty awesome to be living in a different country, facing day to day challenges and frustrations, knowing this experience is shaping me into a better, more patient, understanding, confident, appreciative, stronger person and to actually notice these changes just after 4 months.
This past week has been such a good week; nothing really big has happened but I feel like things are stating to fall into place. I feel I am connecting better with people at work, and I feel more comfortable.

Two PC staff members came to visit, to check in with us and visit our work sites. It was so good to see and talk to them, to express concerns, frustrations, doubts, general feelings, and to share the successes we’ve already accomplished. They were really supportive, sharing some of their own PC experience and perspective. They even introduced us to more contacts within the community—there is a lot of project opportunity here and I think something is going happen soon.
They kept emphasizing how it’s not solely about the work we are here to do but it’s about the relationships we form with the people, which they noticed us already making a difference in people’s lives, although we may not see it.
We had them over for dinner, Tony made pizza, which was fabulous and we made salad, juice and cookies. They seemed to enjoy it and liked how well we work together.

The other day, while attending a career fair, two different situations occurred where I was the first blonde haired blue-eyed person people have seen. It’s a weird feeling at first but then after you think about it it’s pretty cool. The first was a middle-aged guy who shook my hand and just stared at me. He apologized for staring and then said, “it’s just I’ve never seen someone with colored eyes before”. The second was a little girl who stood behind me and starting touching my hair, she commented on how it felt and looked like doll hair. It’s moments like theses where I see how important and wonderful this experience truly is.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This is the tench in front of our house.
Rasta has started to inch closer and closer to it. I just hope she does not fall in...she would be one smelly cat.

This is not trenchy

My Days at the Health Center

I can’t believe I am approaching my 4th month in Guyana. Time seems to be passing quickly. After June there is something going on--something to look forward to every month for the next few months even past the New Year. I am finding it really helpful to look ahead to up coming events.

I wanted to write about my “work” at the Health Center since I’ve mostly just written about funny situations. I am still trying to figure out what my primary project is going to be and it’s a little frustrating because I feel like I am not really working but at least I am learning along the way and I get hold little babies.

Every day is a different clinic day: Mondays are prenatal/ admission days, Tuesdays are BCG (TB vaccine)/ new infant admission days, Wednesdays are child/infant vaccine days, Thursdays are family planning, elderly, and sometimes outreach days, and Fridays are suppose to be home visits but that does not always happen. Clinic is suppose to start at 8am but it usually starts later, there’s even been a few times where the health center does not open until 9:00 or 10:00 because of the key situation, but that’s a whole other story.

I get there around 8:45 and depending on the day of the week the clinic is either pretty busy or really slow. Mondays and Wednesdays are the busiest days. Usually I sit with a nurse and observe and talk to patients (usually mothers) about nutrition and I have started to fill out charts for the new baby admissions, which I enjoy.

When it’s not busy I am usually in Medex’s (the head nurse) office and I work along side her or we just gaff (talk). I have had the responsibility of doing people’s BMIs and consulting with them about the importance of a well balanced diet and how to reduce sodium, since diabetes and hypertension are huge health problems here.

I have some project ideas in mind it’s just about finding people to be on board with me.

*I really would love to create a nutrition manual with an emphasis on special diets i.e. diabetes and hypertension.

*Do one on one nutrition consulting, finding people willing to work with me in order to do case studies and tack their progress.

*Start a cooking club/class to demonstrate healthier cooking. For example, how to use other foods such as garlic, onion, and ginger, instead of salt and cubes, to add flavor to meals or how to prepare steamed vegetables instead of cooking them to death.

*Get active with an elderly club, which is already starting to take way.

For a side project I would like to get involved with a school either reading to the nursery school kids or working with a high school health club.

We’ll see how these ideas pan out

By 11:00 or 12:00 clinic is over and every one just hangs out. We watch The Price Is Right, which I get a kick out of because people get SO excited. Then I eat lunch and all the nurse love to see what I brought to eat, they usually laugh at me…Then at 12:30 everyone watches the Young and the Restless while I go into Medex’s office to gaff some more or sometimes we answer nursing questions on her computer. Between 1:30 and 2:30 I usually leave because not much work is done after lunchtime then I head to the market, which is sometimes draining then head home to cook, read, or hang out with my housemates and Rasta Kitty.

So that’s been my working life over the past 2 months.

In other news…we finally got our mailbox mounted on our fence, I know exciting stuff!