PKBatth's Travel Journals

PKBatth PK Batth

 
What was the saddest moment you have ever seen in your travels?

My group was volunteering at a school, where we set up a clinic to see the locals and do some basic health tests. Some of the children that lived nearby came to show us some fun games and talk to us about a day in the life of a typical Belizean child. At one point I asked a small group of these children, maybe three or four of them were standing before me, what they wanted to do when they got older. Every single one of them looked down at their feet and didn't answer. It took some time for me to figure out why, but I soon realized that most children there are not raised to believe they can do anything they want to do with their lives. 1 out of 3 of them will live in absolute poverty, and given the area we were in, that statistic may be even higher.

  • From Windsor, Canada
  • Currently in San Ignacio, Belize

Belize 2011 - Mission Accepted

Reuniting with Belize, my long lost love! This trip is more than a getaway, as I have some serious goals I hope to achieve during my time in beautiful Belize.

Goals & Family: The Important Things in Life

Belize San Ignacio, Belize  |  Jul 31, 2011
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 I felt like a bull without the patience to wait for the cage to open. 

Dear Journal,

     I made it! My toes are once again resting on Belizean soil! The second we landed, a great big smile claimed my face. I walked out of the plane into the rain, but the sun was shining bright, which is completely typical Belizean weather. I felt like the weather was appropriate. Although Belize is filled with beautiful places, sweet people and wonderful little resturants, the reason I am here is because of the sad reality that is the state of public healthcare here. 

     The first day I met my homestay family, and I honestly couldn't choose better people. Martha Teul is my Belizean momma this trip and I already feel a great connection with her. Her husband Pablo is so very welcoming as well. They are the cutest little couple, refusing to eat dinner without the other. They often look after their 4 year old grandson, Emir, (pictured above.) This boy, I kid you not, is the funniest little Belizean baby ever! Just yesterday he was making his little puppy, named Tornado after a song that is sweeping the nation right now, dance by holding him up on his hind legs and watching him trying to walk. It was a major cuteness overload.

      Last night, I met Pablo's father. He is 80, but doesn't look at day older than 60. He lives alone and is extremely active. He "chops" not only his own yard, but three of his neighbours' lawns too. I really enjoyed meeting him. While Pablo and his father conversed, Martha and I got to talking and she let me take a peek into her world. She began to tell me how she left school at an early age because her parents divorced and her mother needed help at home. Being the oldest, she stopped going to school and began learning what a typical Belizean housewife is expected to know. At age 15, she wanted to return to school, but the public system does not let children over 14 to start. She talked about how she learned from a few nuns how to read and write, but only slightly. One day, when her own children were learning how to read and write, she decided that for her kids, she must learn too. Her personal goal was to be able to read the local paper. As hard as it was for her, she never stopped trying. Even to this day she struggles with reading and writing, but tells me she always tries and is slowly getting closer and closer to being able to read the paper without help. I watch her read and it is so darn inspiring. I thought about my struggles with my education and how sometimes I wish I didn't have to be in school so often, and how in reality I should be so thankful I have the ability to pursue higher education.     

     Since I arrived on Friday, the other ProWorld volunteers took me out on the town to enjoy the local resturants and casino. It was great talking to the other volunteers from all over the US and Canada, however the entire time I was out, I felt uncomfortable. There is this little fire inside me that wants to get out and make a change, and it is growing by the second. All I could think about was how I am not here to go out and "party" but instead infiltrate the local culture and learn about the health care system here. Paul Farmer constantly was racing through my head, and how he made such a positive impact in the realm of public health in developing countries. I felt like a bull without the patience to wait for the cage to open.

    While out, however, I did have great conversations with two other volunteers on our opinions about all sorts of public health topics. Those conversations inspired me. I started thinking about how to raise some awareness on the importance of diet and excercise in preventing diabetes mellitus. I would love to hold an event where people would come out and learn about important health topics like portion control and balanced meals. I am still brainstorming, but I will report back with what I come up with!

   Today, I was able to see my favourite Belizean family that I stayed with last time I was in the country. It was magical. I got to re-connect with my friend Nafessa, an amazing nursing student, who I have been missing terribly for the past year. She embraced me with the warmest hug, that almost melted me into tears. Felipa, momma bear of the house, is a woman that has had such an effect on my life and I loved the fact that the second I walked in, she started with her hilarious wise cracks. I also met a man they call "Brother Jay" who moved from New York to live in San Ignacio 5 years ago. Haneef, Nafessa's brother, played my favourite song that he wrote. It was just so great to see them again and still feel the love.  

Belize, thanks for always making me apart of the family. 

Best,

PK

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