Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

Happy Halloween from Guyana!!
Yup, these were are our costumes...

...Yummy snacks...
Chels made popcorn balls
Tim made Zombie punch
I made pumpkin cookies
Tony made cook up rice for dinner

As we were enjoying our tasty cook-up it started pouring rain, thunder roared and lightening lit up the sky and then the power went out...EEK!!
Out came the candles and made our Halloween night that much more exciting

Pouring rain
It was fun to stand in the rain
Luckily the power came on just in time for....
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
(I had never seen it before and it was surly different, I enjoyed the Glee episode a lot better)

Meet Baby Ziggy!
sadly only one out of the 3 kitties survived
He is really cute and likes to chew on feet and wood

Friday, October 29, 2010

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

I LOVE, love, love the little nursery school kids and today was their sports day...it was probably the cutest thing I've ever seen!
It was a morning full of races, cheers, and laughter!
I'm so glad I was able to be apart of it, I made cookies for the kids and took lots of pictures.

Year 2 boys doing tire race (they did so well!)
Very proper...I can't do this

Lots of running

Cheering on friends

These were my buddies today, they were hanging all over me, playing with my shades, camera, and hair. (Cola, the boys name is Thierry but pronounced Ty-Ree)
Super cute!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

Being 4 degrees north of the equator means there is no change in the season. But that does not mean I can't eat favorite fall foods, like pumpkin cookies! I've been craving anything with cinnamon and pumpkin and with the excuse of having 2 volunteers visit for the weekend I thought it best to try making these pumpkin cookies I found posted on another PCV's blog (thanks Alyssa!).

2 cups flour
1 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin pureed
1/2 cup nuts (optional) I really wish I had some pecans!
Mix everything together and cook on a kahari or in an oven I just don't know for how long...
They are yummy with just the right taste of fall! They would be good with peanut butter too.
Kind of remind me of mini pumpkin pancakes

P.S. in effort of my rawness (which lasted 5 days) I realized 3 things...
#1 Pizza Fridays are way too good to miss out on
#2 Living in another country, far away from family & friends & comforts; giving up tasty food is not worth it
#3 Without the conveince of health food stores it makes special meal plans difficult to not feel deprived

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Teacher Sara

Finally…I'm so happy to be busy and have a more structured schedule. I’ve started spending time at a nursery and primary school and I love it! It’s funny how my vision of the work I’d be doing in Peace Corps has changed. During training I was dead set on being placed in a health center, when they told us there was a possibility some health volunteers could be switched to education I made it quite clear I did not want that to happen to me. But now, after spending 6 months solely at the health center I’m so excited to be apart of the education aspect of Guyana.

The Nursery School
My first intention was to read to the kids at the nursery school, which is located right next to the health center. Every afternoon the little nursery school kids walk pass the health center and I just fell in love with them and their adorable plaid school uniforms and wanted to get involved. I met with the head master and expressed my willingness to help out; she had me attend a PTA meeting to get the permission of the parents and on Monday I started.

The school is one big room divided into 4 classes, so you hear everything that is going on in the other classes. There are the 1st year students and the 2nd year students and each week the whole school studies one topic. This week’s topic was Family, I read a short, hand made book to a group of 2nd year students and then the teacher gave them an assignment to draw their own families. While the students were handing in their assignments I noticed one little boy who had barley started so I went over and helped him out. He was having a difficult time spelling family and he wrote his Y’s upside down so I showed him the correct way to write Y. The teacher said nothing about this.
Then I went a group of 1st year students and they just looked at me all wide eyed with their jaws hanging down. They didn’t know what to make of me.

I went again on Wednesday but couldn’t stay long because it was a very busy clinic day at the health center. But when I walked into the nursery school the kids started yelling, “Teacher Sara, teacher Sara” it definitely warmed my heat! The same group of 2nd year students I read to on Monday had no teacher for the day (when a teacher doesn’t make it in the students have no teacher, there’s no such thing as calling in a substitute teacher). The head master was yelling from her desk for the kids to sit down and behave so I went over and talked to them and tried to settle them down. I wish I could have spent more time with them but I had to get back to the health center. I promised I’d be back on Thursday.

I went today and once I walked in they stared yelling my name. They were just finishing up an assignment and again a little boy had barley started. All the teacher said was, “he’s so slow”, so I went to help him out. His name is Malika and he is so cute and smart! Once he was finished I went to the other group of 2nd year students and the head teacher said she had 3 students who needed my help, as the rest of the kids went outside to play I helped the 3 students who had a difficult time writing letters. One little girl could not write W, she kept making it an M, so it’s now my goal to work with her on that.
I’ll be going to the nursery school every Thursday morning to help the students who need more time and practice. I’m really excited about this!

The Primary School

During my meeting with the head master at the primary school he expressed the need for help with 6th grade health. I told him I would love to help out in any way so he brought in the 6th grade teacher. Her and I discussed the need, the syllabus and agreed to a schedule. I’m now teaching there Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:45-12:30. She gave me a copy of the syllabus with the different topics and basically told me to take charge. This whole week I’ve been teaching about the human body. At first I found this kind of funny because I’ll be honest, anatomy was the only class I had to retake in college so the subject is a little scary for me but I’ve been enjoying researching/ studying it and it makes a lot more sense to me now.
Keep in mind I can’t just make a power point presentation with lots of cool pictures and great explanations. I have to write on a chalkboard (which is weird) and draw my own pictures. Luckily this classroom has a lot of great posters on the human body that I can use.

On the first day I made the lesson super simple by going over the major organs, which they already knew, with plenty of time remaining I made them do the hokey pokey (I know kind of lame) but they liked it. After getting feedback form the teacher she wanted me to go into more detail about the body systems and their functions. So on Wednesday I came prepared to cover 2 systems the skeletal and the muscular systems and today I covered the nervous and respiratory systems. As I was winding down and asking anyone if they had any questions a boy raised his hand and asked if we could do the hokey pokey again! (I guess it isn’t that lame after all) (FYI, the hokey pokey is not a common dance here).

Teaching as been interesting but I think it’s going well (at least for my first week) and I actually enjoy it a lot. The teacher today asked me if I taught back home and when I said no she was surprised and said I do so well with the kids. I really appreciated her comment.
I really want to take some pictures to show you how cute these kids are and to give you an example of the classrooms.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Going Raw in Guyana?

For those of you who know me you know how health conscious I can be. I truly do miss health food stores…sigh.  I was thinking back to my raw food experience last August and wishing I could feel as healthy as I did then here, this led me to visit the web (I love having the internet at my finger tips!). I looked up raw food blogs, which made me miss my healthy eating obsession even more.

I was surprised by some of the ingredients from recipes…mangoes, coconut, bananas, avocados, pineapple, papaya…those are all things that are available, and relatively cheap here. So I started thinking, “I need to take better advantage of the delicious fruits that surround me”. I mean I should be having coconut water daily, seeing as I pass a coconut cart everyday.
 
So I’ve decided to give myself a challenge…I am going to eat raw food for 2 weeks and see how it goes, that includes having coconut water straight from the young coconut every day! I’m not going to be able to eat solely uncooked foods because I wouldn’t get enough protein since Guyana lacks many nuts and seeds and I don’t have the convenience of health food stores. So I figure the best thing to eat will be beans but I won’t cook them until they are really soft.

At the very least this 2 week challenge will be a good detox.

Look at some of these delicious recipes I found…I’m excited to get creative and experiment!

Vanilla Yoghurt:
1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup coconut meat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Pour the coconut water in the jar of a high speed blender and some or all of the milk. Blend well. You should get the consistency of yogurt.

Oat Meal:
2 apples
1 banana
1 tablespoon golden flax seed (available in Georgetown)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pure water (not the purest of water here)

Directions:
Put the flax seeds in the purified water and let sit overnight.
Peel the apples and cut them in smaller parts (for the blender). Peel the banana en break in parts. Rinse the flax seeds.
Put all ingredients in a blender. Add 1/4 cup water, just enough to let the mixture blend well. Blend all ingredients until smooth. You may want to add a little more water if it's too thick.

I’ll be starting this exciting challenge on Saturday October 16th and I’ll probably blog about it as a way to keep track of my struggles and creations.

~I noticed a lot of goat milk and goat cheese being used in raw food recipes…I just might have to get me a little goat. I would save a lot of money on milk!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

8 Months & PDM

8 months in Guyana, 6 months at site and a year & a half remaining.  Time is flying by! I can’t believe it's October. It’s crazy to think that the weather is cooling down and Halloween candy is covering the shelves in grocery stores back home. I’m definitely missing this time of year.

It’s weird that it’s been 8 months since I said good-bye to friends and family but only one month left until I have visitors, which I’m so excited for! I can’t wait to see their initial reactions and for them to experience life in Guyana.

I think after being here for 8 months things have definitely started to become semi-“normal” like seeing cows, goats, and donkeys wondering the streets or the attitude of island time. But there are still things that shock me, like seeing a completely naked guy walking down the street or trying to order take out food in Georgetown and being told all the cooks left to attend GuyExpo (kind of like a state fair expedition).

However, the constant changing of emotions still linger…not sure if that will fade over time.  I think the most challenging thing so far has been working at the health center, I feel like I have hit a block wall, which I must admit is disappointing. It’s not full-feeling and I feel like I’m totally not on the same page with the staff. So, I’ve decided to look for other projects I see more worthy of my time and effort, and not to mention to save my sanity. These projects include: working in the hospital kitchen on improving the meals for patients, especially special needs patients, I’m going to start teaching health to six-graders 3 days a week, and once or twice a week I’ll be reading to nursery school kids. Chels and I are also going to start collaborating on some projects, which I’m super excited for.

To mark our 6 months at site my group of Guy22ers had to attend a week long Project Design & Management (PDM) conference.  It was good to see everyone again and spend time together but the conference was long and full of group activities, a 12 hour lesson (split between 2 days) on Community Mobilization, which got a little heated/nuts, grant writing, project planning and monitoring and evaluation. Oh, yeah, and our counterparts also attended the conference the whole week and mine kept falling asleep…

It was definitely nice staying in a hotel with AC, hot water, cable TV and good food. The best part was meeting the little 5-year-old girl who became our friend quickly. It was fun to swim and color with her and she made us laugh until our cheeks hurt.

After the conference I stayed an extra 3 days in Georgetown, along with a few other volunteers, because I had an Environmental Task Force (ETF) meeting on Monday. It was nice to hang out longer with PCVs and lounge around the PC office and watch movies over the weekend.  The Task Force meeting went well, I now have a better understanding of the goals and objectives of ETF and I’m excited to see where the project is going to lead. There’s talk about having Environmental PCVs in Guyana by 2012, which would be neat.

Also, my friend Becky and I started talking about planning a trip to Rio, Brazil some time early next year, which I think would be awesome! We have a few other people interested so we’ve started doing some research and planning ahead…we’ll see how it goes. Brazil is the main country in SA that I want to visit before I head back to the States.

And to end my day of being in Guyana for 8 months I got to witness the birth of 3 little kitties. Yup, Rasta Kitty is now a momma kitty. It was crazy to see her give birth but also really cool (picture to come shortly). I can’t wait for them to get to that playful stage!

We had to draw our faces for one of the activities

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"You're a Chicken Fish"

During PDM (Program Design and Management) conference we met this little girl. Her and her family just moved (from the states) to Guyana and will be living here for 2 years but they are waiting for their house to be built so they have been living in the hotel for the past 6 weeks.
She definitely kept us entertained and was so cute (I wanted to pack her in my suit case!) One night she kept a small group of us laughing for hours. Tim made up a song for her to sing all about cutting the cubes (watch the video) and then she proceeded to call Paul "chicken fish" and Tim "chicken chicken" we all found this very humorous...where do kids come up with these things?
video

*I'll be writing about PDM a little later...I need to gather my thoughts.