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.

Hands On Experience

Belize San Ignacio, Belize  |  Aug 03, 2011
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 Making the connection of that bottle of coke with destroying the body is far more effective than saying, "It is bad for you," in my opinion at least. 

Dear Journal,

     I have finally started my internship! This week I am setting up a free diabetes awareness event in a clinic near downtown San Ignacio. A few volunteers and myself invite locals to come in and have their weight, height, blood pressure and blood glucose levels measured, all at no cost to them. We also have basic medicine to help alleviate minor health issues, such as pain and coughs. We also talked to every patient about the importance of diet and exercise to prevent and treat diabetes.

     Today I finished my third day, and have already talked to over 80 patients. No matter how much I research and write about diabetes in Belize, it never fails to shock me the enormous lack of awareness locals have when it comes to prevention. Not a single patient that I talked to knew what a healthy plate of food consisted of. Only one person I observed had a low blood sugar level. Everyday I encountered a notable amount of patients with an elevated blood glucose level and/or high blood pressure. No matter what station I was at, either taking blood glucose readings or blood pressure, I talked about the importance of eating healthy. I figured hearing it twice is better than not hearing it at all. Although I didn't get to ask every patient about his or her exercise habits, I only met two young girls that do engage in regular exercise, but even they did not do it daily.

     Diabetes is so widespread in this country and no one can convince me that the strongest advocate for the disease isn't the lack of awareness. When I explained healthy choices and the reason why foods like white bread and carbonated drinks lead to hypertension and diabetes, every patient listened intently and many made it clear this was the first time that they had heard this kind of information. Through this experience I affirmed what I had already thought: to provoke real change when it comes to diet and exercise the best way is to inform the person of interest as much as possible. Instead of just saying, "Excess sugar consumption causes hypertension and diabetes," or, which many have heard, "Sugar is bad for you," I believe one needs to explain why to really have an impact. Health information related to living well needs to become common knowleadge. Information like how consuming excess sugar stresses the pancreas and consistently doing so destroys its ability to produce insulin. This destruction can lead to loss of vision, limbs and even coma. Making the connection of that bottle of coke with destroying the body is far more effective than saying "It is bad for you," in my opinion at least. With every day I am learning more about this culture and how to better implement a long lasting change for the better in the arena of Public Health. (And it is only day three!)

Today I spoke with Martha, my home stay mom, about her personal battles with diabetes. She was diagnosed a few years back and has become completly committed to taking care of herself. Not only has she lost a substantial amount of weight, but also has changed her eating and exercise patterns to better her well-being. She also was prescribed medication to help regulate her blood glucose level, however she wants to stop taking them. Not only has she experienced memory loss, but also had a friend that developed cirrhosis because of the medication. She went to a pharmacy and her pharmacist prescribed her some natural medication that is packed with essential vitamins. I am interested in how the new medication will work. I asked if I could be kept up to date with her symptoms for the next month. I also intend to look into the side effects of her old medication.

At the clinic, one of the nurses informed me that many Belizean diabetics do not take their medication regularly because they expect instant cures. They hear about people who have been cured from “this plant and that elixir” and would rather try that instead of staying consistent with their pills. I have always been in favour of natural and holistic medications, but this made me think about the disadvantages of people raised on natural cures. 

     I have been spending a lot of time with my friends, Nafeesa and Haneef, while I am not at the clinic. Just yesterday I went to meet a local pastor from Nigeria with them and took part in a prayer service. We were in this beautiful little house in Unitedville, and I felt so honoured to be welcomed with such loving arms into their group. It was a very spiritual night, to say the least. The pastor cooked for my friends and I afterward too. It was so delicious! He texted me today as well, thanking me for coming and invited me to come tomorrow as well. I am looking very forward to it. 

Belize, you never leave me without changing for the better, thanks.

PK

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  • User Profile Photo
    KeithMahipala wrote: Thu Aug 18, 2011
    Great work PK! Looks like you're having a great time and making a huge impact in San Ignacio! Miss you!
  • User Profile Photo
    Dana wrote: Fri Aug 5, 2011
    I hope your having a good time and I have HUGEEEEEEEEEEEE present for you when you get home- your friend better be going back in December that's all I gotta say!