Guyana GAFF Newsletter Summer/Fall 2017

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EH EH! Happy (almost over) summer everyone!

While many of us live in perpetual summer at this point, it’s still a huge joy when the months of July and August come because our hard working education volunteers get a little break from their normal routines and health volunteers get a children’s clinic on steroids. Yay! Now is the time for kids camps, time to travel and visit other volunteers (don’t forget those whereabouts!) and plenty of local juice. 😛

PCVs are coming together to reconnect, celebrate independence days, and say farewell and good luck to friends. As Guy28 takes over as the current Peace Corps pensioners, Guy29 remains mysterious, and Guy30 continues to learn more about how things are done around here, let’s all use the down time to take no stress, help support each other, and do some cool stuff. We hope this GAFF issue provides some smiles, entertainment and inspiration to get you through the dog days.

Of course, a huge welcome to our new GAFF staff, Jocelyn, Samantha and Derek! We love your enthusiasm, energy, and ideas already!

Hope you enjoy 🙂
LOVE,
Your GAFF Staff: Liz, Catherine, Steven, Jocelyn, Samantha, and Derek

September
Back to school!
Guyana Indigenous Heritage Month
1 – Eid-Ul-Adha – Guyana
4 – Labor Day
8 – International Literacy Day
11 – National Day of Service and Remembrance
15 – Allycia Kleine (Guy28) Birthday!!
21- International Day of Peace
22 – Anniversary of Congress formally authorizing Peace Corps
27 – World Tourism Day

October
Disability Awareness Month
1 – International Day of Older Persons
5 – World Teachers’ Day
7 – Reed Boulter’s (Guy30) Birthday!!
9 – Columbus Day
10 – World Mental Health Day
11 – International Day of the Girl Child
15 – Global Handwashing Day
18 – Deepavali – Guyana
31 – Halloween
November
American Indian/Native American Heritage Month
3 – Greg Stanley (Guy28) Birthday!!
11 – Veterans Day
12 – Michaela Bonnett (Guy30) Birthday!!
16 – Jocelyn Valencia (Guy30) Birthday!!
19 – World Toilet Day
23 – Thanksgiving Day
28 – #GivingTuesday
30 – Gregory Skutches (Guy30) Birthday!!
December
1 – World AIDS Day
4 – Wildlife Conservation Day
12 – Brianna Rossi (Guy30) Birthday!!
12 – 20 –  Hanukkah
18 – Becca Tatarsky (Guy28) Birthday!!
25 – Christmas Day
26 – Boxing Day
26 – Kwanzaa begins
28 – Gabrielle Swindle (Guy28) Birthday!!

Carly Ratekin (Guy30 – Dartmouth Village, Region 2) reflects on her experience during Emancipation Day, August 1, 2017

“I’m living in a predominantly Afro-Guyanese village that was originally bought by freed slaves. Given that history, Emancipation Day is a huge deal for the village and lasts a whole week! They have a pageant, stage show, road race, spelling bee, market, and BBQ! Throughout the events, lot of emphasis was put on education and working together to create a better Guyana. My host family is especially involved in celebrating their African heritage because they lived in Botswana for 12 years! Leading up to the holiday, I knew I would need some African wear, and since my host mom is a home economics teacher I was lucky enough to get her to sew me a dress! My host sisters helped me pick out the fabric then the whole family worked together to make sure I had the perfect outfit (finished an hour before the event of course!). I really treasured being invited to participate in the celebrations, and having a hand made dress from my host mom is really special to me. Emancipation has been one of my favorite cultural events because I got to learn more about how my community celebrates and embraces their African roots.”

Greetings from FROG!

Just a quick intro, FROG grew out of a need to help PCVs secure funding for small projects with a grant up to $500. At this time we’ve funded 20+ Peace Corps and non-PCV projects, and we’re hoping to fund more. This funding does not go directly to volunteers, but will be delivered to a counterpart or community organization. It is the role of the volunteer to help direct potential leaders or groups in your community to apply for FROG support.

Please, if you have a project you want to fund, we’d love to hear about it!
For more information: https://www.guyfrog.org/grant-policy/

CALL FOR MEMBERSHIP
Are you a Peace Corps Guyana RPCV? Think about joining FROG!
Consider joining the ranks of past volunteers to support currently serving volunteers in their effort to help Guyanese. The FROG mission statement is:Friends & RPCVs of Guyana is a non-profit, service-based organization dedicated to supporting education, health, social, economic, cultural and environmental programs in and about Guyana through a network of RPCVs, Guyanese nationals, Guyanese-Americans, and all those interested in the Guyanese Community.Please send an e-mail to Scott Stadum at [email protected] to join!

An Ode to GUY 27

Group Number 27; 27 months spent.

Your stories were shocking.

Your advice was complex.

Your legacy: unbeatable.

Your presence, like a recipe of success, accomplishment and some slightly jaded thought, will be missed by us volunteers left behind.

We could never forget, the guidance you offered…

“Oh, you’ll be fine, just look out for:

          The fungus

          The water

          The snakes

          The people…

But really, you’ll survive.”

Or how about the stories you told? Filled with adventure, inspiration, a tidbit of fear, and a whole lot of “what heck is going on?!”

“Did I tell you about the time I did that?”

“You don’t even know yet…”

“Let me tell you about THAT person.” 

When us newbies felt scared and small, you walked confidently through the streets, took the minibuses with ease, and couch-surfed like inspirational PCV’s.

Your stories inspired us, scared us, taught us, and always made us laugh. You are a group of people so strong and honest, we aren’t sure how to live up to it.

Here’s wishing you much less boredom, much more adventure, and hopefully less Guyanese gossip as you return to the States. 

PS – Please for some chocolate, or maybe some Doritos? We still have many more months, you know.

Love,

GUY 28, 29, and 30 

New Frameworks Workshop with HQ
During a week in July, PCVs, local and overseas staff came together to develop a new framework for the health and education sectors in Peace Corps Guyana.
Keep reading for a brief rundown of how it all came together. 

Picture: The core health and education teams during the workshop.

Day 1 – Review and let’s talk about it. 

Peace Corps volunteers discussed among themselves the findings from various focus groups, which were sessions conducted by staff with volunteers, counterparts and stakeholders. HQ, Staff, and PCVs then came together to compile a table of key findings according to the information gathered. Teams were separated by health and education, and each work group created a separate key findings table.

Day 2: Time for all the questions.
The health and education sectors worked separately to use their table of key findings to produce a “situational analysis”, which answered three core questions concerning the direction and reason for our new framework:
1) What were the key findings?
2) What lessons have been learned from previous Peace Corps projects?
3) What is Peace Corps role and strategy and how will the next project meet the host country’s priorities?
The health and education teams presented to HQ and all Peace Corps staff to get feedback and ensure we were headed in the right direction.

Day 3: Emphasis on the logical. 
HQ led local staff and PCVs through a session on logic models to help direct the creation of the framework. The health and education work groups used this guidance and a given template to create the new proposed LPF (logical project framework). The teams pretty much did this all day three with breaks only for food. Each group had two HQ staff to assist in their work, which was essential to produce a usable and logical document. All HQ staff were impressive with their knowledge and guidance on creating the frameworks.

Day 4: Make it better they tell us. 
The health and education teams presented their draft frameworks to each other for feedback. There were a lot of scratch marks for clarity, language and focus. Both teams were going in the right direction, but the final product was far off. HQ presented another session on M&E (monitoring and evaluation) to have us start thinking about this important part to a new project framework, however both groups returned to work and refine the LPF document the rest of the afternoon.

Day 5: Wrap it up but not really.
The week came to close but that doesn’t mean all tasks were complete. The new frameworks were in good shape, but that was just the beginning. Both health and education teams started to outline an action plan to help focus on what needs to be done from now until June 2018 when Guy31, the next volunteer group, arrives and is officially trained to the new frameworks. There were final presentations and Peace Corps staff were given a chance to share feedback, plenty of room for more!

Let’s keep this going…
During Guy30 Reconnect, Ari (Education – Guy28), Allycia (Health – Guy28), and Liz (Health – Guy28) presented the new frameworks to the health and education groups to receive their thoughts. Overall, volunteers reacted positively to the new focus being primarily on youth across both health and education groups, and the increased flexibility with site placement for health volunteers. There were still several questions as to the feasibility and reliability of some aspects, which staff will continue to work out. This insight was valuable to the refinement of the new frameworks.

To Aly Kenny of GUY27,
As one of the newest education volunteers in Guyana, GUY30, I have not had the opportunity to meet too many other volunteers. I did though have the pleasure of meeting Aly Kenney of GUY27, she served in Region 6 as an education volunteer. Given my location, East Bank Berbice, I had not made many trips to meet other volunteers. In the two occasions that I interacted with her and a recent post I read from her, Living The Dream Peace Corps blog, I feel lucky to have met someone who was so aware of herself, in the moment of volunteer experience, and from what others have said, one of the most understanding people.
I’d like to share an excerp from her recent blog post, July 20, 2017, The Return: Re-adjustment Week one. I hope you take a moment and read the full post, it inspired me to stay motivated and choose a productive perceptive.
Lessons from serving in the Peace Corps:


Understanding: We all come with our own host of experiences, education, social and economic backgrounds, religious or spiritual beliefs, customs, and superstitions. No person is better or worse for what they have grown to become or believe. All of our cultures are different and that is what makes us as a human species special. It is important to take time to understand why a person has a certain belief before jumping to conclusions or judging them. I have avoided many conflicts or getting myself into a tizzy by taking a step back and simply asking, “tell me about why you think this, or why you said this?” I avoided many conflicts by asking this, and in turn, explaining my beliefs as well, which is one of the Peace Corps goals (sharing about American culture, values, and beliefs). It would be so easy to call my host family crazy for telling me I have to walk in the door backward after night falls to confront the zombies (ghosts/evil-doers) that may have followed me home, and ask them to stay outside. But this is their belief; it would be disrespectful to ignore it or criticize them. And let’s face it, we could all afford to ask the jumpers to stay out of our lives.”


To Jeffery “Lee” Hendrix of Guy 30,
This is long overdue but shout out to Jeffrey “Lee” Hendrix for always caring and knowing how to put a smile on others faces. It almost never seems like he’s having a bad day, because he always seems to be smiling. Thank you for always cheering me up, it’s always greatly appreciated. ~ Martine (Guy 30) From Lattisha “Tish” Fox of Guy 30,
Hi everyone! I miss everyone a lot, and I’m excited to hear about what everyone gets up to. I hope everyone stays safe, happy and get’s up to plenty of adventures.To Gabrielle Swindle of Guy 28,
Thank you for your incredible photography skills. Your photos made me relive wonderful memories and helped me make this GAFF look  so fantastic. Truly a volunteer’s perspective.
Love ya, xoxo, Liz (Guy 28)
To John and Karin of Guy 30,
You guys are killing it in Bartica. Keep up the awesome work. There is no one else I would rather experience a prison break with. – Jocelyn (Guy30)

Staff Superlatives, Anyone?
Staff has been working extremely hard to come out and see volunteers at their sites. Site Visits for GUY 30, Community Town Hall Meetings, and Volunteer Town Hall Meetings in every region make for plenty of staff/volunteer interaction. As the months go on, we’ll be bringing you some stories about the best staff moments, and why that makes them special. Have a story you want to share? Send it to a GAFF Member!

Most Likely to Know Everyone at Site

Carey Bhojedat – Environment Sector PTS

If you aren’t an Environment Volunteer, you may not be lucky enough to have a site visit from the Program and Training Specialist, Carey. If you are fortunate, and happen to see Carey at your site, you won’t be the only one trying to gaff with this staff member. People all over the hinterland regions know Carey from past jobs, or family. At a site visit to Mabaruma, walking down the street with PCV Samantha Rock, it was impossible to move 5 ft. without hearing “Aaayy Buddayyyy” and stopping for a nice conversation with yet another one of Carey’s many friends. We hear this is the same in Region’s 9 & 7, so keep an eye out for this famous staff member.

Most Likely to Pull You Out of the Mud

Jamal Goodluck – Education Sector PTS

Ever feel a little stuck, and not sure how to get yourself out? Catherine Irvine, GAFF staff, shared a time when Jamal gave her a helping hand… literally. When visiting Catherine’s site, the two decided to go out for a paddle and hike. We’re sure Catherine was a good tour guide, but Jamal was an even better guest, when he had to assist her out of a literal mud trap during their exploration. We wish we had a picture of Catherine after getting pulled out, but for now we’re just happy to know that Jamal has our backs, both literally and figuratively.

Most Likely to Befriend Anyone and Everyone

Stephanie Williams – Training Manager

Most volunteers know Stephanie. She’s at every PST, Reconnect, Mid-Service Training, and COS. According to staff and PCV’s, her friendliness goes beyond Peace Corps work. She’s just friends with everyone. According to Health PCV Mel, when Stephanie came for a site visit, she stayed for 5 hours and instantly became friends with Mel’s counterpart. “At some point, I think they were having the time of their lives,” she says.

Most Likely to be Feelin’ Her Outfit

Merica George – Health Sector PTS

None of us would be surprised to hear if Merica won “Most Likely to Party” or “Most Likely to be Seen at Palm Court” (as dubbed by some awesome members of GUY30). However, Education Volunteer Aicha, gave us a new perspective on Merica during a conversation in the office about skirts. When Merica was noticed for wearing a short-skirt by her co-workers, she defended her right to dress fancy by saying, “It’s cause we’re feeling sexy today.”

“I had to agree,” said PCV Aicha.

Most Likely to Walk Through the Mud for You

Adannaa Alexander – M&E Coordinator

We all know how much effort Adannaa puts in to make sure we complete our VRF’s on time and accurately. When she announced VRF Parties, and her travelling plans to every single region, we knew she would go through anything to get this monitoring and evaluation completed!

Turns out… she will literally walk through the mud for us to get it done. When visiting PCV Samantha Daisy in Mabaruma, Region 1, Adannaa was forced to walk up a muddy ditch to get to her hotel. Walking extremely slow, with Merica and PCV Samantha laughing above her, she only slipped once. She made it to the hotel with not-so-white-anymore shoes, a muddy hand, but a smile still on her face.

Interview with PCV Thomas Saleh (Guy 29)

Nappi, Region 9

Catherine: Rise and shine! Is it too early for this?
Thomas: No it’s totally fine, I’ve been up since 5 o’clock.
What is your background, degree, etc.? Where are you from in the U.S.?
TS: I’m half Lebanese-American, half French and I moved around a lot between the U.S., Canada, and France as a kid. I was born in Buffalo, NY and lived between there and Toronto for the majority of my childhood though. I studied environmental science and economics with a focus on water, and then I came here.
Where did you go to school?
TS: I went to McGill in Montreal for my Bachelors.
Steven mentioned that you have been busy with a fundraiser lately. Please tell us what you’ve been up to!
TS: Basically we organized a club fundraiser attached to the primary school graduation [Nappi Primary]. The club is called the Kanuku Youth Conservation Club (KYCC).
What did you sell at your event?
TS:We sold produce and snacks donated by the parents of the club members.
Any bestselling items?
TS:Everything sold out! Except for some sugar cane and a pumpkin (from my garden)!
How exactly was the fundraiser attached to the graduation?
TS: The money is going to go towards doing trips with the wildlife club (pictures below), which we have called the Kanuku Youth Conservation Club (KYCC). We are trying to at least get a trip or two to the surrounding villages but eventually, we are going to try to make a trip to Georgetown.  Yupukari (about 20 miles North) has a “caiman house” which serves as a research center and a community hub (library, etc.) They’re raising turtles right now in a conservation effort, so we’d like to see that. They’re also hosting some sort of fair at the end of the month.
What wildlife is in Georgetown?
TS: The zoo, coastal animals and plants like mangroves. 
How much money did you need to raise to meet your goal?
TS: I was aiming for $15,000, but expecting less. We raised $21,000.
Sounds like you have a very supportive community.
TS: Yeah, I’d say so. I think the parents are really starting to see the value in extra-curricular activities for the kids. We’re actually planning to have another sale on Saturday at a big soccer game.
How often, when and where does your club meet?
TS:  2 to 3 times a week.
What are some activities that you do with your club in site?
TS: We have a clubhouse which is where we meet and we either stay there to play games, draw, etc. (especially on weekdays) or go bird-watching early Saturday morning.
When you say clubhouse, I’m picturing a tree house with a rope ladder and secret password, am I on the right track?
TS: Haha ideally! Right now it’s an old converted building with a missing door, but we use our imagination. Hopefully, we will be able to rehabilitate it soon, maybe add a library.
We just had a skill share yesterday. One of the villagers who make balata crafts taught them about it and then they got to make their own animals. (Balata is latex collected from the bullet wood tree; the locals use it to make small crafts to sell in Lethem or Georgetown).
What animals did they like to make?
TS: The kids made snakes, macaw parrots and one boy made an ant-eater.
Did you find it difficult to get kids to participate at first? I’m sure this is their first environmental club, or maybe first club for anything.
TS: Yeah, I started with the older kids, but only a few of the girls were interested. Then I started after school activities and a lot more (especially 8 to 12 y.o.) started coming out. After school, I usually get anywhere from 20 to 40 weekends and vacation days I’ll get 15 to 20.
Coming into PC did you already know that working with children was something that you wanted to do?
TS: Haha nope! I came here to do conservation work mainly. But the work with the kids is a lot more consistently gratifying. In fact, I don’t know if I will ever work with kids again after this. It wasn’t in the plans before coming here, but I’ve been made to rethink things a little. I also think that the wildlife club is one of the surest ways of promoting long term conservation. I think that it’s likely that at least one or two of these kids will continue to work toward conservation in some capacity for a long time to come. Whereas any help I can give directly is temporary and/or takes a lot of trust-building and convincing.
 Do you have any recommendations for other PCVs wanting to do an environmental club?
TS: I’d say that my advice is to be patient. Many children are naturally very interested in their surroundings, but it might take time for the word to get out and to find a rhythm that works for the volunteer and the community. The kids over here are great though! They practically handle themselves. Mostly girls too, so that helps! Most of them are too shy to be a problem. But also part of the point of these clubs is to give them some confidence, so hopefully, the shyness passes with time.
 When y’all do your birdwatching, what types of birds do you see?
TS: On the shorter trips we see more common savannah birds and parrots, but on the longer trips we’ve seen macaws, toucans, water birds etc. Sometimes we do picnics and stay in the bush from about 8 to 3. The forest is more interesting for the kids than the savannah.

Interview with PCV Germinal “Germ” Destine (Guy 28)

La Grange, Region 3; Good Intent Health Center

Catherine: Alright we’re outchea, listening to ASAP Rocky, chillin’, tell me what you’ve been up to Germ!
Germinal: If we’re starting from swearing in, a lot! The first year being out here was really slow because I took my time and I talked to people. In February, I started up a teen pregnancy support group at my health center. Initially, we only had 2 people come, but it was still good. We got to discuss so many things, like what their concerns were and their plans. Them I diverted my attention to get started on my Camp GLOW and my Camp BRO, which turned out to be very successful.
C: What made you want to do both, Camp GLOW and BRO?
G: I didn’t want anyone to feel slighted just because I was focused on a specific group, ya know?
C: Two camps are pretty ambitious, how long did it take to plan?
G: I started in mid-March to prepare for the camps in May. Some things I needed required me to have aid, so I found donations by people in the community and a big help from Mr. Suresh.
C: Shoutout to Suresh!
G: He made a lot of things happen. The big reason why I decided to do camps was because it gave me the opportunity to practice something I love doing, which is youth development, life skills etc. I do things like that because I think about myself around that time and I wish I had somebody there to guide me like I try to do with these kids.

C: Growing up, did you attend camps like this yourself?
G: Yea, I was 17 and it was a youth ministry camp called Young Life. At first, it seemed fun because all my friends were going, but it was actually pretty dope. The first time, I went as a camper, the second and third time I went as a counselor.
C: It sounds like you’ve had experience with youth camps, GLOW and BRO weren’t your first rodeo.
G: It was the first one I’ve done from scratch. I had to go out there, meet these kids and talk to them about it. Not only them but also with other people in the community. The big difference between hosting camps and my work before is my personal life experience and growth since then, which has made me a better mentor.
C: It sounds like the community was very supportive. Did they seem stoked about it?
G: I had to share my vision on what I wanted for the kids. For the boys, it was more so about taking accountability and responsibility, not only with yourselves but with those who you hold close to you. For the girls, it was mainly about self-worth and their independence.

C: When did you hold these camps?
G: Camp BRO was May 5th-6th and Camp GLOW was May 26th-27th
C: What age range of kids did you cater to?
G: I catered to those who were between the school grade from 6th grade to 9th grade.
C: So how was the turnout?
G: Quite a few came out for the first day, I had about 18 show up. The second day was good too, a smaller number though. In total, the kids that attended was about 28.
C: That’s pretty good! And these kids are all from La Grange?
G: They all live somewhere along that west bank and they all go to school at Patentia Secondary.
C: Do you do other work at Patentia Secondary as well?
G: Yea, I teach HFLE over there.
C:  So you’ve already formed a bond with these kids. They know they’re coming to hang with Sir Germ.
G: Haha if you got a dude coming at you that looks Guyanese, but with an American accent, and tells you about strange things, things aren’t gonna click. You gotta establish who you are in these communities and bring yourself with it too. Then the kids feel there’s something about you they can connect with.
C: Absolutely, now tell me some of the favorite activities the kids participated in.
G: One activity was an egg race, which they thought was strange. To see them every time they dropped the egg and start over, the frustration on their faces! But they all loved it. At the end of that day we did tie dye shirts too.

C: Reflecting on both of these camps, were there any challenges?
G: Getting the food was a big challenge. Because of the turnout I was expecting, it required a lot of community backing. One of the teachers was a big help to provide lunches. Aaaaand what else…it was just the food!
C: Nice! Good way to get the community involved. What was the highlight of this experience?
G: Taking it as creating memories for not only your experience but their experience also. As long as they were able to get something beneficial out of it, it will come back in a good way. One of the girls made a card, and on the top part, it said I love you and on the bottom part it had a heart that said thank you. It was nice.
C: That is super sweet. I’m sure that validated the work you put into this. Let’s take a minute to do some shout outs, to anyone that helped you throughout this experience.
G: Shout out to Antonia, Ryan, Genelle, Amaar, Dory, Aicha, Briona, Liz. Shout out to staff, Kury, Asheema, Jamal, and Merica. Shout out to the teachers who helped me and Mrs. King who helped with the tie dye. Shoutout to Daniella, Region 3 representatives for Department of Culture Youth and Sports. Nadira thank you, Mr. Suresh, you’ve been a big help. Mrs. Mary with the food, thank you! And all the kids that came out, and believed in what I had to say, thank you.
C: It’s great you had so much support from both your community and Peace Corps. What’s next?
G: I’m doing a basketball camp.
C: Wow, you are one camp runnin’ fool.
G: This camp is a boys’ basketball camp. I got a lot of help from the church where the basketball court is. Mr. Suresh helped again and the Department of Culture Youth and Sports donated equipment. It’s been really good.
C: You see the same boys from Camp BRO attend this as well?
G: Some of them, and new faces also. It’s a wider range of ages, from 13 to 18. Basketball takes patience and discipline, which you also need in life, so I’m also trying to instill this. As long as you remain disciplined, you’ll get to where you need to go. A lot of the kids have never played basketball a day in their life!
C: Say whaaaaaaaat!
G: Yea, so a challenge and a benefit are that I had to break it down to the fundamental mechanics of basketball. They’re getting there.
C: I bet you look like a pro.
G: Sure, haha. No lie, this basketball camp has been a challenge. The other day it was back to back days and I noticed I was getting tired; my sides were hurting and when I woke up my whole body was sore.
C:  They’re getting you back in shape! After this one, you taking a break from camps? What’s next?
G: I say this now, I think I’m good. Although I was passing out the flyers for the basketball camp and some girls came up to me and was like, “When are you gonna have something for us?” So now it’s in the back of my mind.
C: It looks like the kids might pull a next camp out of you.
G:  We got like 8 ½ months, so we’ll see.
C: Thanks for taking time to talk to me and the GAFF world Germ!
G: (mouth full of roti) Definitely!

Interview with PCV Andy Keen (Guy 30)
#8 Village, Region 5


What is your first thoughts that come to mind when you describe life in Guyana?
First thoughts are to relax and to learn how to revel in the small things. Life is to short to take things all too seriously. Being late in Guyana doesn’t exist. Just show up and you’re fine. Show people you’re willing to participate and serious to learn.
Favorite Guyanese saying?!
‘Alright.’ This is more common among men. It’s a mixture of I’m ‘liming’ and ‘good afternoon.’
Favorite Guyanese food?
Broff. (aka fish broth) Its heaven. Its for men to build muscle, pound their chests, and eat in their underwear.
What type of food do you crave the most from home?
Brussel sprouts. I’m weird.
Why did you join Peace Corps?
I joined because my life was boring and I wanted to experience something few Americans get the opportunity to pursue in a lifetime.
What do you miss most about life back home?
I miss privacy.
What odd familiar items have you found in Guyana? (eg. dark chocolate, bagels, case of mountain dew)
Chicken feet, iguana…
What is your favorite thing to cook here?
Cook up. Hands down.
Have you made any hybrid Guyanese/American dishes?
No. Sometimes I make a plate of veggies though. Bora and pak choy.
What do you hope to do when you go home?
I hope to work in the state department and own my own restaurant or food truck.
Best/craziest (that can go in GAFF) memory in Guyana?
I went camping at men’s alpha, a camp after Splashmins.
An Andy’s take on something in Guyana: Be willing to try everything. Live fearless.

Strength through difficulties
Aicha Diouf (Guy30)

My community is a coastal village in Region 3 on the West Bank on the Demerara river. I live in a predominately Indo-Guyanese community, and being a female of color I get asked a lot if I am truly American. Although the question is overwhelming at times, I always remain respectful and explain how diverse America is.  I try my best to break the preconceived notion that Americans are always white, and explain that just like Guyana, other races are part of the United States as they helped build this nation to the point of reach the status it has now in the global community.
I never get offended if my “Americanness” is questioned because I take the time to remind myself that this is why I believe so much in International Relations and Peace Corps Goal 2. This is the reason I wanted to join Peace Corps if it was easy it wouldn’t be worthwhile. I came up with ways to always give the most diverse image of the United State that I can whenever I am asked. We, as volunteers, should all make an effort to show how diverse the U.S is, whether in race, gender, social-economics, age and all the other great stuff.

Be Strong & Stay Level Headed

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A Hotdog Tribute
Molly Reilly (Guy 28)

When moving to Guyana, I was excited to try the Caribbean influenced Indian and Chinese cuisine. Reading up on the different flavors and types of seasonings that my taste buds would experience made my mouth water. I’ve enjoyed trying these new foods, learning how to cook, and sharing what little cooking experience and skills I had in the kitchen with the locals. One day while visiting my host family, they handed me a brown paper sack (you know the ones we use to pack our lunches in as kids), but it wasn’t the classic PB&J waiting inside; it was a warm, colorful, loaded hot dog.

The food game immediately changed for me. How had I been so blind to all the hot dog stands lining the winding road of Essequibo? That one hot dog opened my eyes, and things haven’t been the same since.

I have traveled to a lot of places in Guyana, and the hot dog game doesn’t come close to comparing to the ones in region 2. Sure I’ll see a few selling in the window of a snackette here or there, but there is something magical about them being made fresh before your eyes. Maybe I’m biased because growing up I had the privilege to appreciate a dirty water dog on the streets of NYC and was taught THAT was a proper hot dog. Fresh from the stand.

The hot dogs in Guyana are different from the classic dog in America, and you’ll never know the beauty of it until you try one yourself.

A Guyanese hot dog is a chicken based dog boiled to perfection. In a nice warm bun, it lies decorated with onions, cabbage, carrots, and cheese. They load the dog up with ketchup mustard mayo and pepper if you choose, and a few places have their own signature sauce they add. And if you really know where to go, the dog will be topped with a potato crispy!

Okay so now I have you curious about these tasty snacks and you are wondering where you can go in Essequibo to try a Guyanese hotdog. Have no fear I have taste tested and peer approved all of the best places to go grab a dog for a nice afternoon snack. The peer approval is very important when testing the dogs because my taste buds don’t agree with sauces so I need to have some one confirm that the sauce game is contributing to the overall vibe of the dog.

Most of the hot dog stands are in Anna Regina. Across the street from Red Bud, the most popular restaurant in Essequibo, there are two hot dog carts. Pay attention because one of them is the best hot dog in Essequibo, and the other is just an average dog. There is a red stand, Terry’s, this is where you need to go, this is where you want to be. Terry makes the best hot dog on the coast. His price might be a little more expensive than other stands, but it is worth it. I haven’t quite figured out his secret, but it’s almost as if you don’t want to know. Something about the mystery of the deliciousness makes you keep coming back wanting more. Now if you make the mistake of going to the cart on the left, you will be missing out on the best, but will still get a good dog, with friendly services. The lady who runs this stand is very kind, and polite and good with customer satisfaction. Next to these two stands, there is a small sitting area where you can enjoy the dog(s) in the moment, or carry it away and let the cheese really melt into the dog.

If time and money are against you and you need a dog quickly and cheaply right across the street from the car park there are 4 hot dog stands, that are of equal taste and comfort level with sitting benches for you to watch the cars pass by.

If cost is your worry, the stand farthest left is where you should go. Good tasting dog, at the cheapest price. If you are wanting to wash down the hot dog with some tasty local juice I would recommend ( I don’t know it’s name) right next to the cheapest dog place. Their local juice is quite flavorful and they have a variety of flavors. Earlier I mentioned some stands top their dogs with cripsys if you are in the mood for a crunch. At the back of the Anna Regina market is where you will find these cripsys, I highly recommend giving it a try. Not only does this stand have unique crispy but they tend to be open late, especially when there is an event going on in Anna Regina. It is convenient when you have the late night munchies.

I’m sure you are a little curious why this one stand has the additional cripsys on top, and the other stands don’t? The potato cripsys are inspired from Venezuela. There are 2 other hot dog stands that are Venezuelan inspired and bring a whole new level to the hot dog game. The first one is a little bit trickier to get to because it is past Anna Regina in Lima. Even though it takes more time to get there, it is worth it. I have brought multiple people here, and everyone has left satisfied because it is here you can get a jumbo hot dog. Let me tell you these are definitely a game changer. The jumbo hot dog is not only a foot long dog, but it is topped with all the classic Guyanese toppings, carrot onion, and cabbage, with the additional cucumber, fried egg salami lettuce, and tomato. A combination of traditional sauces, and their own Secret family sauces. Here the dog is sprinkled with cripsys and to top it off grated cheese.

 

If making it all the way to Lima is not feasible, there is an alternative Venezuelan influenced hot dog stand in Queenstown. Gokul’s stand does not always have the jumbo dog, but he does have the cripsys, and his own garlic sauce, giving his dogs a trademark taste. You can also find Venezuelan style burgers at his stand. I have not tried one as yet because my love for the hot dog trumps my desire to try new things.

As my love for hot dogs grew I noticed that I was not alone in this obsession. At school when a class reached perfect attendance the most common reward the children want is a hot dog party. For this, I’ve been making the dogs at home. When my neighbors and friends caught wind of this, we would have hot dog dinner parties. When making dogs at home, I like to boil with onions and green sauce. Another trick to add flavor is mixing all the sauces together to make one tasty flavorful sauce! I have even experimented with making my own potato cripsys. One of the joys of the hot dog, whether you are making them at home or picking them up to go, is you can specialize what you want on them. Not an onion fan? No problem get it without. Love pepper sauce? Awesome, pour it on! If you are like me and prefer it dry, they can definitely do that, although they might think you are weird. However, in the end, you will be satisfied with your dog.

I have not finished touring the coast tasting of hot dogs, there are still some stands I have yet to try (I really need to explore Charity). If you are ever on the coast and want to try a new one or meet me at my favorite stand I would love to meet up to enjoy a dog together, I have found some of the best conversations are had while sharing a hot dog.

🌭🌭🌭

Transportation
Derek Methu (Guy30) 
Getting around is an adventure while in Guyana. Since arriving in country February 2017, I have been curious why hired cars, taxis, and buses honk their horn so often?  What I have found out is that Guyana is like the movie Cars, when it comes to using the car horn to communicate.Here is what I have observed:
1. Get out the way!
2. Hey, I am coming up on you!
3. Hi, friend! standing there
4. Hi, friend! walking on the street
5. Good bye friend! I am now leaving the spot I was just parked at
6. Hey, you! need a ride?
7. Hey, buddy! WTF was that no signal turn business?!
8. Hey! A fellow driver, driving in the opposite direction, what’s up buddy?
9. You there! Where did you learn to drive?
10. Hey! Car in front I am overtaking you. Thanks!Greetings
Andy Keen, Guy30

Every country in the world has its own inherent goodbyes, hellos, and small talk that correlates with the customs and traditions of the people. Guyana is no different. Granted, your sex determines how you are greeted and how you can reply back. On any given morning when I’m on my five-mile run I receive the following replies.
-“alright, alright”
-yeah (think Stoner Rastafarian)
-“mornin, mornin, mornin” (The first two are chipper and the last is angry like Scrooge. Always three times, never once or twice).
-“white boi” (sometimes white guy if I’m lucky. Implying I’m older if I receive the latter)
-“big man” – Guyanese like to call things as they are at face value
-“FBI”..I get this a lot as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
I asked someone once and they replied: “because I look FBI.” 
Nicknames
By: Andy Keen, Guy30

Guyanese are big on nicknames. In America, I pride myself on being called my first and last name. Here in Guyana, people are called how they are perceived. If you’re fat, they’ll say (when you’re hailing a cab)…”yo fat boy” Or if you have dark skin, they might call you darky or browny.
I fear for what my name would have been had I been born here. They like calling me “white boi” and “FBI”, I bet I would be called “big head;” I do have a big head – LOL. Here are some nicknames in my village:
-bo foot
-fathead
-skin
-fish
-browny (my host mom)
-darky
-bush rat

A great day for me is hard to pin down because most of my great days here have been the accumulation of small good things.  These things being maybe an awesome breakfast of the biggest pear I’ve seen in my life with bread and coffee or having my little host niece say my name for the first time.

Great days are when I’ve had a fruitful, productive morning at the health center or made one of my students laugh at the school.

(Photo Credit: Jocelyn Valencia Guy30)

And then come home to a whole pitcher full of coconut water and a Tupperware full of the delicious fruit and being able to devour it in front of a tv blasting Family Feud with Steve Harvey and watching my host niece take her first steps around the living room.

The sweetest moments are also the smallest and it’s one of the things that has surprised me the most with my time here in Guyana.

(Photo Credit: Taylor Guy30)

Guyanese Rice Porridge

Ingredients: 

(1) a pint of rice
(2) cinnamon sticks
(1.5) Tbl of essence
(1) small coconut
(2) scoops of dried cow’s milk
(.75) cups of brown sugar

Cooking Instructions: 
1) Let a pint of rice soak overnight in a pot.
2) Next morning boil rice to a very soupy consistency.
3) Add 2 sticks of cinnamon (cut up into 4-5 pieces). You might have to add more water during the cooking. Feel the grain. It should be very soft. The whole mixture should blend together and you should barely see any grains.take the pot off the burner after 40 minutes of boiling and aggressively stirring the rice.
4) Stir in the rest of the ingredients off the burner. The rice is so hot it will swallow what you give it.
5) Use 2 mugs of water to the coconut. Not too much coconut milk. We just want the fat.
6) Pour essence in and stir, add sugar
7) Add 2 scoops of milk to 1 mug of water ratio and stir in a separate bowl. Pour into porridge.

Wahlah…prepare to get buff, swole, and seek powa!

Delish Okra and Tomato Saute
Quick, easy and healthy!

Ingredients:
– 3 tbs cooking oil
– 1 small yellow onion – cut into wedges
– 4 cloves garlic – peeled and smushed with side of a knife
– 4 cups of okra (a few handfuls) – halved lengthwise and wipe out some seeds. (This help avoids slimey okra and the seeds will be yummy.)
– 1 lb of tomatoes – diced in quarters
– Salt and pepper
– Small amount of apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar you have)

Directions:
1) Saute smashed garlic cloves in oil over medium heat until golden.
2) Add okra and onion
3) Season with salt and pepper and cook until the okra is tender and bright, 10 to 12 minutes.
4) Add tomatoes; cook until just bursting, 3 minutes.
5) Finish with a splash of cider vinegar.

Serve with rice, bread, or other grain if desired.

The first female baby horse (aka a filly) born in Annai in 2017!
Photo credit: Cara Rohdenburg (Guy 29)
A Blue Saki. Accidentally caught in a pet parrot’s cage when he swooped in to steal food! Photo credit: Cara Rohdenburg (Guy29)
A Giant Anteater – This guy is nearly waist high, but still not a full adult!
Cara’s students chased after it and when one student tried to coerce it to come closer, they started chasing each other!
Photo credit: Cara Rohdenburg (Guy29)
A hummingbird sucking the nectar from a hibiscus flower.
Photo credit: Cara Rohdenburg (Guy29)

What to do & where to go when friends and family come to visit!
photo credit: Jackie Guy28
Kaieteur Trip! Visit Guyana’s famous waterfall for a day trip or you can stay overnight in the national park’s eco-lodge. A plane ticket includes a 3-hour walking tour around the national park, where you will see multiple viewpoints and hear about the history and biodiversity of the area.
Pandama Wines A Peace Corps favorite. Wine tasting, amazing food, and rustic scenery, this place is great for a tech free getaway in the trees or simply a relaxing day spent swimming and drinking wine.

photo credit: Pandama Wine Facebook 

Region 9/Rewa/Rodeo Go big and treat yo guests to a real adventure! Travel to region 9 to explore the savannah and the mountains, go fly fishing, or bird watching. Swing through Lethem to find a place to sleep before you enter the amazon.
photo credit: Gabrielle Guy28

Region 1/Shell Beach Take a “boat cruise” up the Pomeroon River to get major Amazon tingles. This trip is a bit complicated – but totally worth it if it’s the right time. Shell beach is a turtle reservation home to several endangered sea turtles, and remains a sacred nesting place in the July – September season. Contact a PCV in the region to find a contact number of a local guide and details on travel.

Capoey/Mainstay Show off Guyana’s heritage and beaches with a trip to region 2! Relax and enjoy the breeze on a Sunday at Capoey or make your way to Mainstay for a night or two. Swim in black water and drink those rum and cokes without a care in the world. 
photo credit: Gabrielle Guy28
Demerara Distillery WTF to do with someone in GT!? If they drink rum, you’re in luck. Get a private tour of a globally recognized rum distillery (free tasting included!) to learn about the history and distillation process of one of Guyana’s more well known export.

Sloth Island Step into paradise!! “For those guests looking for a little more adventure, Sloth Island has an extensive range of land and water activities. Choose from: bird watching, nature walks, wildlife viewing, swimming, canoeing, fishing or just relaxing in a hammock in the shade of the trees.”

PERSONAL REVIEWS STRAIGHT FROM YOUR YOGI VOLUNTEERS

Being in Guyana gives us all a lot of time to do the things we always promised ourselves we would do in the U.S but simply never had time to do. One activity that I loved in the states that I wanted to bring to Guyana no matter what was Yoga. Being the forgetful person I am, I did not think of downloading any videos, since in New York City, I would just go to a Yoga studio and get all Zen-ed out. 

A fellow volunteer Dorie (another fabulous New Yorker), had downloaded Revolution: 31 days of Yoga. I decided that I would start my revolution at training and hopefully do it every few months for 31 days.

Day one came around, I woke up at 6:30am and got my Lululemon gear on and started the video. The instructors name was Adriene and she was absolutely ridiculous to say the least. I was shocked, she was not zen or peaceful. I found her voice extremely annoying and she was just outrageous. I could not for the life of me concentrate on my poses because she was constantly laughing or making a joke.

The one thing I could appreciate was that she preached a philosophy that I very much enjoyed, respected and believed in. The idea that yoga is meant to be an holistic experience, that is meanT to affect every part of your life. That through your yoga practice, you can see changes in other areas of your life whether it be through gaining patience, balance or strength. Adriene always does a great job of encompassing yoga and your life but again, imagine trying to be holistic while Adriene is singing a song randomly during downward dog…like girl please refrain from the foolishness.

Regardless, for any yogis out in Peace Corps or any volunteers that have time and want to try something new. I would definitely recommend Adriene but be warned that she takes some getting used to.

Good Luck and Namaste!
Aicha (Guy30)

The goal: be more present.

I’ve been practicing yoga steadily for a few years now, so I would consider myself an intermediate yogi. Now that I’m in Peace Corps, it seemed time to grow my home practice and start embracing a more “yogi” mindset. That’s why I started the Yoga Revolution with Adriene. Before these 31 days, I tended to lean more toward “fit yoga” flows, with teachers that focus on sweating and strength building. But I thought Adriene’s approach was really great, to be more present in life to feel “fearless, fit and fluid.”

At the end of the 31 days, my bullet journal page dedicated to this was looking good and I was proud of myself for completing the entire challenge, but I won’t lie, NEVER AGAIN. Adriene is so annoying. I cannot sugar coat this. Right in the middle of a pose or flow she will just stop and begin rambling or singing. So yeah, not my preferred choice of instructor. I think I’m a little too serious to be honest. But depending on my mood or time of day, I would scream at the screen or simply stare blankly at her as she acted dumb. Sometimes she made me laugh, but that was only if I knew I was having ice cream that day.

Overall, I loved that every day had a dedicated theme and word of the day, like ‘thoughtful’, ’empower’, ‘peace’ etc and the flow would correspond. I guess I respected that planning and appreciated having a sort of mantra for the day. But every time she told me to carry my neighbor’s groceries, I also wanted to kill her.

If you enjoy theatre humor and are looking for a silly, less serious, way to jump start your yoga practice, I think this program is great. If you’re a fairly seasoned yogi who prefers more vinyasa and less jokes, I would say skip this but maybe check out her other YouTube videos because being a yogi means being “open to life.” Try new things and see how it makes you feel. As Adriene puts it – “Find what feels good.”

Namslay,
Liz (Guy28)

I’ve always wanted to try yoga but never found the motivation to do it. After many months though of having a sore back from my form mattress and building stress tension in my neck I figured there was no better time to try it, especially since I also had no excuse of not having any time. 

I wasn’t sure where to begin. I tried a few YouTube videos randomly over a few weeks but I wanted to be more consistent. That’s when I found and tried the Yoga With Adriene 31 Day Revolution Challenge.

Overall, I thought the series was a good place to start. A lot of different poses and moves are introduced and having a goal of completing 31 days helped keep me focused and get into yoga. However, throughout many of the videos what did not help me focus was Adriene herself. She talks…a lot.

In each video she incorporates a theme that she turns into a sort of life lesson/ words of wisdom which is cool but in each video she also has a tendency to go on rants or break out in song which can be downright distracting.

Some days Adriene’s spunkiness is entertaining and the lightheartedness she brings to the practice is just what I’m looking for when I’m wanting to unwind and stretch out without having to focus too hard. On others days though again, she’s simply distracting and leaves me disinterested in the practice.

I do recommend Yoga With Adriene, and specifically her 31 Day Challenge, if you’re interested in trying yoga for the first time or just looking to continue your practice. But just be aware she seems to be a pretty unique yoga instructor.

Allycia Kleine
Health/Guy28

Wanna try Yoga Revolution!?
Check out my mailbox in the PC Lounge! 🙂
There is a USB with all the videos and MORE fitness love.
There are tons of home workout and yoga videos to keep ya fit and healthy.
Enjoy! XOXO
Liz (GUY28)

Gabriella Miyares (Guy 27, Region 1)
“Hello! My name is Gabriella Miyares, I like words, stories, and art/design, and I’m living in Guyana for 27 months as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the education sector. I’m thrilled to report that this blog was chosen as a winner of the 2016 Peace Corps Blog it Home contest! A huge thank you to all who voted. “https://lettersfromguyana.wordpress.com/Rebecca Tatarsky (Guy28, Region 6)
“Many things have happened since November…Christmas in Suddie, New Years in Suriname, Parent’s visit and Mid-Service Training.  We’ve hit our one year in country and now we are looking towards the end of the our service.  We started with 30 volunteers and we are now down to…not really even sure about that as I write this…So, here’s the update!”http://beccatat.blogspot.comCarolyn “Cara” Rohdenburg’s (Guy29, Region 9)
“An American stumbling around Guyana and trying to finish her Master’s Degree.”
mindthepiranhas.blogspot.comCarly Ratekin (Guy30, Region 2) 
“I am a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder and am serving the Peace Corps in Guyana! I am from Evergreen, Colorado and love to travel, serve others, and explore new cultures. I’m working in the health sector and focus on maternal, infant, and child health as well as prevention of non-communicable diseases. I am passionate about healthcare and global development and am so excited to see where this 27 month journey will take me!”https://carlygoestoguyana.wordpress.com/Melanie Zimmerman’s (Guy 30, Region 6) Blog
“A COLLECTION OF RECIPES, LOVE LETTERS, AND STORIES || CURRENTLY FROM GUYANA, SOUTH AMERICA”
” I’m a story teller. I like food puns, hot coffee in the morning, & being around mountains. From January 2017 to April 2019, I’ll be in Guyana, South America serving as a Peace Corps Health Volunteer.”

https://melaniezimmerman.wordpress.com/

Samantha Daisy’s (Guy 30, Region 1) Blog

This site is about more than that, though. As a social service worker, I spend most of my days questioning what-the-hell is going on in our world. Seriously… why is there so much poverty, and pain, and prejudice?! Don’t pretend you haven’t fumed about these same issues – even if you’ve gotten pretty darn good at looking at the bright side of things. By joining the Peace Corps, I hope to pop the bubble that is American Privilege. By writing this blog, I hope to encourage others to look outside their protective American Bubbles as well.”

https://onepeopleonedestinyblog.wordpress.com/

Jocelyn Valencia’s (Guy30, Region 3) Blog

“I have never blogged before and pretty much have no idea what I’m doing.  So bear with me, please. I initially was not planning on blogging during my service, but most of what I read online about Guyana hasn’t been true – or is only true in some areas. In an effort to set the record straight, and to fulfill the third goal of the Peace Corps “to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans” (basically to share Guyanese culture with the folks back home) I decided to give it a try.”

GAFF

Hey readers! Thanks so much for getting this far in the GAFF newsletter. We worked hard to make this issue fun and readable for all, but also informative for those who are not PCVs, but maybe family and friends. We hope we were able to accurately portray a snippet of what life is like here under the hot hot sun.

PLEASE SHARE YOUR LIFE WITH US!
We are constantly looking for fresh content! If you have any ideas, please message any of the GAFF team members or e-mail us at [email protected]

Do you have awesome photos from a trip to region 1? Got a running list of all the silly sayings your kids at school say? Is there a daily struggle you deal with that other PCVs could probably relate to? Are you crazy inspired by another PCV? Did an awesome idea pop into your head as you were reading this issue?

PLEASE SHARE YOUR STORIES AND REPORT TO GOAL THREE! ; )

ICT / IRC Taskforce 

The ICT/IRC Taskforce has been working hard on updating the IRC and putting together resources to help all volunteers whether they are coastal or hinterland.  Be on the lookout for online resources as well as hard copies for those who need it.  Also, we are working to develop a google calendar to help volunteers who need to reserve the IRC room in case of interviews.

In addition, we have two spots open on the taskforce for GUY 30 volunteers.  If you are interested, please email us at [email protected] or see Jamal in the office.

Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC)

Did you know anyone can go to the fun-filled VAC meetings??

According to the VAC bylaws: “PCVs are welcome at VAC meetings as observers. They will be given the first fifteen minutes of a meeting to voice any issues and concerns directly to VAC. PCVs will also be given time prior to the conclusion of a meeting to voice any additional concerns; this time will be limited to fifteen minutes. They may be asked to leave if disruptive.”

Join us at the next meeting and see what goes down!

– From Your Beloved VAC

Peer Support Network (PSN)

POSITIVE COPING SKILLS YOU CAN DO IN GUYANA

  • Journal or read a book
  • Watch movies or endless TV Shows
  • Sit on your veranda and watch people creepily
  • Read a story to your pet
  • Search the clouds for shapes of things
  • Swing in your hammock
  • Exercise: run, walk, do yoga, bike, cricket, football, volleyball
  • Hike through the jungle (with a friend, plenty water and Mozipel)
  • Kung Fu
  • Doodling, color, craft, knit, crochet, paint, make jewelry
  • Cuddle with your pet (no fleas though)
  • Climb a coconut/mango/breadfruit/anything tree
  • Brew beer or liquor, make some special local juice
  • Make fun of the angry sheep/goats
  • Go swimming in a trench
  • Scream or punch into a pillow
  • Burn your trash or incense
  • Drink a nice cup of coffee or tea
  • Paint your nails, o your makeup or hair just for fun
  • Plan a trip for yourself
  • Text another volunteer
  • Have a dance party
  • Build something new for your house
  • Boil some water and take a hot bucket bath – add some essence for ambiance
  • Make lists of words you use or things you do now that you never would use/do at home
  • Make a bucket list
  • Bird, butterfly, people, or goat watch
  • Let a goat into your neighbors yard and watch them chase it
Let us know if we can support you in any specific way.
PSN – Allycia and Gabrielle

Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce
Welcome to our new Guy30 members!
See photos and a brief bio below.

Brittany Kernagis: “Wants to live in a world where every day is taco Tuesday and phone batteries never die”
Oumou Dao: “Only time I set the bar low is for limbo.”
Aicha Diouf: “You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl!”
Dorie Schwartz: “Certified bibliophile and ice cream addict.”

HIV/AIDS Taskforce

In May 2017, the Peace Corps Guyana HIV/AIDS Task Force completed a multi-day PEPFAR funded workshop to address stigma and discrimination (S&D) in healthcare settings. (missing from photo: Daniel Coffee)

The workshop focused on health systems strengthening in relation to gender and HIV by providing health care workers a better understanding of gender and sexual minorities (GSM), whom are among the key populations living with HIV.

Twenty nursing students from the Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, and St. Joseph Mercy nursing schools attended the four-day interactive workshop. Students participated in activities that brought to light how both conscious and unconscious discrimination can affect these patient’s access to care, treatment, and testing.

Perhaps the most impactful part of the workshop was the panel discussion with participants from various NGO’s, some of which were also members of the key populations. This discussion not only provided greater context to the topics covered but also served to humanize the issues, providing faces to Guyanese GSMs and persons living with HIV.

Sessions were in part drawn from USAID’s Health Policy Project training on Gender and Sexual Diversity, which included values clarifications, gender norms and expectations, common health/GSM myths and facts, the Genderbread person spectrums, S&D, HIV facts among key populations, and treating patients with care.

A crucial component of the workshop was the “bringing it back” session. Participants create a set of goals as a nursing school that they wish to complete within their communities. A popular objective that students have come up with in the past is to present to their nursing school peers the information and knowledge gained from the workshop.

The most rewarding part of the workshop was the integration of former participants into co-facilitators roles. The Task Force worked with three nursing students and one nursing educator (each from one of the nursing schools) who participated in previous workshops from January 2016 and June 2016 (as pictured above). The co-facilitators effectively contributed to planning and implementing sessions, and were particularly helpful in bridging cultural gaps between Peace Corps Volunteers and nursing students.

For more fun Puzzles click the blue hyperlink
Want to laugh some more?
Check out our Comics pdf

These are some of the Memes, Photos and Drawings made by your fellow PCVs!

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