Guyana GAFF Newsletter Spring Gaff 2018

Spring 2018 Newsletter

Dear Readers,

Hello! Welcome to this early issue of Peace Corps Guyana’s GAFF newsletter. As Guy 28 bids farewell, GAFF has found itself under new management. We are making changes to the newsletter so that you can get your dose of PC news in a more frequent and concise manner. We also have increased effort to bring GAFF to areas without internet by introducing hard copies of the latest issue. In the coming year, we look forward to hearing and sharing the lives of Peace Corps volunteers, staff, and partners. Please enjoy!

– Your GAFF Staff
Ryan Brown, Samantha Daisy, Derek Methu

 

Upcoming Events:

Arrival Day (GY) – May 5th
*
Mother’s Day (US) – May 13th
*
Guyana Carnival – May 18th-27th
*
Independence Day (GY) – May 26th
*
Memorial Day (US) – May 28th
*
GUY 31 PST – June 12th – August 15th
*
Father’s Day (US) – June 17th
*
CARICOM Day (GY) – July 2nd
*
Independence Day (US) – July 4th
*
Emmancipation Day (GY) – August 1st
*
Eid-Al-Adha – August 20th
*
Patriot Day (US) – September 11th

Upcoming Birthdays:

April:
Harry – 7th
Martine Phadael – 25th
Lance Caldwell – 27th
Jamal – 30th

May:
Lee Hendrix – 8th
Chelsea Roderick – 12th
Jennel – 12th
Karin Strom – 13th
Kirsten McLeod – 23rd
Carly Ratekin – 31st

June:
Jon Witkop – 8th
Taylor Laskowski – 16th
Adannaa – 20th
Javaris Herndon – 29th
Cristina Miller – 29th

July:
Flavio – 4th 
John Weber – 8th
Dylan Karl – 11th
Hunter Stafford – 11th
Olayinka Opesamni – 22nd
Samantha Daisy – 23rd
 

Attend Guyana’s first-ever Carnival, where celebrities, fetes, j’ouvert, and mas take the streets of Georgetown.

May 18th -27th

Visit www.guyanacarnival592.com for more details.

Incoming GUY 31!

In just two short months Peace Corps Guyana will have a new batch of Volunteers, and who doesn’t love some fresh faces? GUY 30 volunteers can rejoice in no longer being the newbies of the group, and GUY 29 can prepare all the advice that they’ve been fine-tuning as the seniors. As GUY 31 makes their Peace Corps debut in June, all of the volunteers will be remembering their goodbyes in America, their long trip overseas, and their welcome to Guyana. Eight weeks of Pre-Service Training will start on the beloved Essequibo Coast, where GUY 31 will experience preparation for their future service and learn to appreciate the Guyanese culture. Newbies, we are excited to have you!
 

Halfway Through, GUY 30!

It’s been 14 months since GUY 30 landed in-country and their journey is officially halfway over (if you don’t plan on extending ;] ) – or halfway begun, if you want to look at it like that.  GUY 30 embarked on their Mid Service Training in April, where they were able to focus on sustainability and enhancing their work for the final year. There are two things to keep in mind at this point of the PCV 360 service. One: making it to the halfway point is a lot of stress, and things might seem difficult. Two: it will pass! The second year is said to be more productive and also go by faster. Congratulations, GUY 30! You’ve made it through with flying colors.

See You Later, GUY 28!
 

You’ve made it past the milestones. You came full circle and left Guyana a better place because of it. Our beloved GUY 28 officially “rang out” of service on 9 April, 2018 after the completion of their COS Conference. All over the country, volunteers will be missed. Schools, health posts, and hospitals will feel the gravity of volunteers’ absence. Most of all, the volunteers who have been watching GUY 28 rock the socks off their service will have to say goodbye to their site-buddies (but maybe get some free left-over-stuff).  Just to name a few accomplishments, GUY 28 is leaving behind new computer centers, advanced school libraries, local business creations, and lots of beautiful personal connections. Thank you for your service, GUY 28, and congratulations with your completion of service. You will be missed!

Hello All, 
 
It is with tremendous pleasure that I write this introductory note to you all as the new, incoming President & Chairman of the Board for FROG. 
 
As an artist, filmmaker, educator and facilitator of social justice, and most importantly, a proud Guyanese-born human being, I feel confident in the future of the FROG organization, and I’m super excited to collaborate with the wonderful folks at the Peace Corps and with the people of beautiful Guyana. 
 
Before I briefly share some thoughts on the direction of FROG for the upcoming year, it’s most important first that I graciously acknowledge FROG’s founder and former President Scott Stadum, who has been vigilantly instrumental as a mentor and friend as I make this transition into my new role as President of the organization. Scott’s passion and love for Guyana and its people are evident in his work with FROG for over a decade as he, along with the other committed members of the organization and volunteers, has curated many unique and thoughtful opportunities to support and uplift the people of Guyana. 
 
Now, as FROG enters its 11th year as an organization dedicated to supporting education, health, social, economic, cultural and environmental programs in Guyana, I intend to continue in the same spirit and dedication as those before me. I’m wholly committed to this role of service. 
 
Scott Stadum will officially take on the role of The Founder & President Emeritus of FROG. With this new title as The Founder & President Emeritus, Scott will serve in an advisory capacity to the president, and the organization as a whole, and will provide guidance and expertise as a knowledgeable member to the Board of Directors (BOD). He will advise on past practices and operations in accordance with the chapter bylaws. I’m happy to have Scott’s support as we continue to promote and provide for Guyana.
 
Moving forward, my goals for this upcoming year include reviving our board and forming creative and strategic partnerships with organizations and Guyanese nationals to increase our support and ally base. I will also focus on increasing our presence on social media, in the arts and media, and in Guyanese communities throughout London, Toronto, New York City, DC, Maryland, and anywhere where large populations of Guyanese nationals populate. This increased presence will help our fundraising efforts to support more local Guyanese FROG special projects and organizations like Camp GLOW which has been instrumental in the empowering of young women and like the Timehri Film Festival which has done incredible work showcasing visual projects in and about Guyana and the Caribbean.
 
I’m especially inspired to visit with and connect with current Peace Corps volunteers on the ground in Guyana to highlight your experiences, and also to connect with former Peace Corps volunteers around the globe. Please stay tuned for some exciting things ahead.
 
I was born in Georgetown, and when I emigrated from Guyana to the U.S. at age 7 with my family, I always felt like I left something behind. There was always a feeling of something missing – something missing in my story of Guyana. When I went back to Guyana for the first time in 2009 to make my award-winning short film “The Seawall” I knew that there was more that I had to do to show love and appreciation for the people of Guyana. I believe that this new role with FROG is that opportunity to serve and give back. 
 
FROG has been a big supporter of “The Seawall” film and my journey to give back to the people of Guyana for over ten years, and now were are full circle. As the new President of FROG, I see this as an honor to serve and give back as we promote health, education, and healing in the country I love so much. 
 
Onward,
Mason Richards
President, FROG

Fahzeela Mohamed

Housing

Coordinator
 

 

What job were you doing before you worked with Peace Corps Guyana?
-I worked with a private company in the administration section
 

What’s your favorite drink?
-A cold beer with a slice of lime

What’s your favorite Guyanese dish and your favorite non-Guyanese meal?
-Guyanese dish – black beans and brown rice. Non-Guyanese dish – oyster with salsa

What hobby would you get into if money and time were not an issue?
-Travel the world, see everything there is to see and experience every culture there is to experience.

What movie would you most like to live in?
-Any super hero movie where I can be Superman

What is the most annoying habit other people have?
-Forgetting to be respectful and open-minded.

What takes up a lot of your time?
-My family

What is your favorite way to spend your weekend?
-Family, food, TV, beers, maybe some reading…

Cedric Sills

General Services

Assistant

for Property

What job were you doing before you worked with Peace Corps Guyana? 

-I worked as a mechanic in Kwakwani on Caterpillar earth moving machines

What’s your favorite drink? 

-Rum, Vodka, Dark Beer, high wine…. anything that makes me happy when I drink it

What’s your favorite Guyanese dish and your favorite non-Guyanese meal?  

-Pepperpot, Pizza

What hobby would you get into if money and time were not an issue?

-Playing pool and motor racing

What movie would you most like to live in? 

-Fast & furious

What is the most annoying habit other people have? 

Behave stupid in public when drinking alcohol

What takes up a lot of your time? 

-Always in a pool shop with friends kicking butt on the pool table

What is your favorite way to spend your weekend? 

-Spending the day at the creek on the linden highway with friends,drag racing or in the pool shop

Harry Persaud

Safety and Security Assistant

 

     As all of GUY30 has noticed, Peace Corps Guyana has received a new staff member! On behalf of all members of Peace Corps, we welcome Harry Persaud to the ranks as the Safety and Security Assistant.

     Harry’s background is extensive and impressive. He joined the Guyana Police force in 2006 where he was exposed to trainings such as counter-terrorism, general policing, and crime/security analysis. Eventually, he was promoted to the head of the surveillance team.  In 2012, Harry attended the University of Guyana to pursue a degree in international relations. Upon returning to the force, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and headed the Security Analysis and Statistics branch.

     Harry’s favorite police stories are of his high security-risk situations. He would have to follow suspects, gather intelligence on them, and during an arrest, he might be mildly beaten and even arrested along with the suspect. He can recall being placed in the same cell with a suspect. Had his cover been blown, the criminal community might have known his identity, placing him in danger in future operations.

     Harry is becoming familiar with the policies of Peace Corps.  He has enjoyed getting accustomed to his more relaxed position within Peace Corps. He has started to learn the new policies and he knows it is going to take some time to transition. In terms of his personal life, a safety and security assistant is on call 24/7, so it is a bit hard to do other things. As a volunteer, I am grateful that he is constantly on call, but I am sympathetic that he has so little time of his own.
 
     When you get a chance, introduce yourself to Harry Persaud and welcome him to the team!
                 

 -Interview paraphrased by Ryan Brown

Manaus, Brazil
Interview with Dorie Schwartz
You are the first volunteer that we’ve talked to that travelled to Brazil! Can you tell me a little bit about your travel route?

“Sure! So we flew to Manaus, Brazil with a one day layover in Panama City. From Manaus we took two buses and a car to Lethem Guyana for Rodeo.”

How was Manaus? What was it like?

“It was good. We were able to see the rivers and wilderness around Manaus. The coolest part is the buses in Brazil. They are so fancy. It felt like being in first class on an airplane.”

Was it hard to get by in a Portuguese-speaking country?

“Yes. I speak no Spanish… but Taylor does. She was expecting to at least be able to communicate a little bit, but it was really tough. Some people could understand her and some people couldn’t, but it definitely made it easier to know Spanish. It was a lot of miming, and not a lot of people spoke English.”

So, advice for someone going would be to learn some Portuguese?

“I mean, learn some key phrases and look up applicable vocabulary.”

Can you tell me a little bit about the VISA Process?

“It wasn’t difficult. It just required a few trips to the US Embassy in Georgetown. There’s a list of required documents that you need, and you need to fill out an online application as well as submit these documents in person. Once your application is approved you have to go back and get a deposit slip to pay for your visa. You then have to go back to the embassy to pick up your visa. It requires a couple days of being in Georgetown. It cost about $40,000 GYD for a 10 year visa, which is about $200 US.”

What was your favorite part about Manaus?

“Their big landmark is the Teatro Amazonas, their opera house. It was designed to model after an opera house in Paris. There was a really popular park outside and people seemed to sit there, so we sat and watched.”

Any advice for people who may want to visit?

“My suggestion for anyone going to Manaus is to allocate one day in the city and plan the rest of your time outside the city in an ecolodge. If I could do this over, I would want to plan to spend a couple days on the river.”

Pictured Above: Taylor Laskowski and Dorie Schwartz in
Panama City, Panama

PCV: Derek M, GUY30
Where: East Bank, Berbice
City: New Amsterdam

Good morning, Good afternoon, Good night!   Welcome to my Crib!

I moved into my own space, October 2017 and have made it a home/bachelor pad the best I could. My scheme is fairly new and was built to bring in new homeowners to the area. It has been slowly growing.  I live two streets away from the main road to our city of New Amsterdam, and I live only 15 minutes from school, via Hired Car. My neighbors are really nice, and the shops near me have almost everything one would need to cook and “entertain guests”. Oh yes, my landlord lives upstairs with his family and two beautiful dogs and three new puppies! (missing photo of Jumbo)

Let us start with my main Puppy Sparkle and her babies (Duke, Pepper Pot, and Dutches).  


This is the entrance to mi casa, located on a road full of “adventure dips.” 

This view is my front door, where you will notice the windows have bars and have louvered windows.  Welcome!
 

 
This is a view of my two bedrooms and living room/entertaining area/dining area.  

 
This view continues to show my entertaining and bar/countertop area/spice area/boom box area. 

 

  
This view shows the entrance to my shower room. 

 
This view is just to the right of the shower room. It’s my toilet and porcelain sink. 

 
Now to the main area of the casa, my bedroom. You will notice the approved PC mosquito netting and the must-have fan!

 
Here, I show you what one can do to deal with not having sealed windows, old/used mosquito nets as window screens (repurpose reuse). 


This view shows more of how my kitchen is laid out. You will notice to the back right, my laundry room.

Thanks for coming!
Y’all come back now!
Just call ahead!! 

 

Perfect Day Haiku’s

“Cane Sugar”
Sugar cane grown high,
Canje run fast and cold. Swim,
til the monkeys howl.
  
“Capooey Walk”
Walk Capooey road
to black water revival.
Tonight all frogs sing.

“Sweet Guinep”
Guinep sweet to me,
climb down the coconut tree.
Race sunset home, love.

Submitted by: Anonymously GUY30

“Laundry and Laid”
Today my wet clothes 
dried. Jus 10 min pon de line
done. I got laid too.

“Bra-less”
I stopped wearing bras.
Clavicles, nipples, navel
free to sweat. Perfect.

 “Walk in Peace”
Meow meow me-
ow. Shhh. Dem cat callers gone? 
I can walk in peace?!

Note: “A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression.” – poets.org

 

Martine Phadael

Mahaicony

Martine Phadael is a PCV stationed in Mahaicony in Region 5. Although she admits it was difficult at first, she has adapted extremely well to her community and now fits right in! On April 7th, 2018, she held a very successful career fair for a Children’s Home.

“This career fair is something I’ve been planning for about 5 months now. I remember speaking with Judy White and asking her if I could volunteer at her site some days, and she of course gave me the okay. Having been volunteering at the Children’s Home and learning about what some of those girls went through in their childhood, I knew that they needed to look forward to their future.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         My biggest concern for the girls was that once they left the home, with no guidance or direction about their future, it would’ve been very easy for them to fall back into the same patterns that initially put them in the home. I know that many of them don’t have a lot of mentors or people to help push them to look forward to their future, so I wanted to be able to give them that opportunity.

 
Before the actual career fair, judy and I spoke to the girls about what it is that they want to do in the future in terms of jobs, also what long and short term goals are. Then, I just did a little research on different organizations in Guyana that would be great to have to come in and speak to the girls so I emailed most of them and discussed my vision with the career fair and asked them if they would be willing to come in and speak with the girls.
                                                                                                                                   The girls definitely appreciated having this career day; this was the first time I’ve seen most of them opening up and asking questions. Once the career fair was finished, I had many of the girls come up to Judy and I asking for the contacts of the different individuals and saying how they were going to start doing better in school and that they now know that they have help towards their future.”

Samantha Daisy

Mabaruma

Where are you stationed in Guyana and what does your normal day consist of?

I’m stationed in Mabaruma, which is the far northwest corner is Region 1, next to Venezuela. I’m serving my third goal at the hospital, but I work at the schools too. I work on hospital projects as well as Peace Corps work. I also plan and facilitate my Health Club at the schools.

Could you elaborate on your health club?

Totally – I have two health clubs which I love being a part of. Not only do I have the opportunity to promote health to adolescents on an individual level, but we work together as a club to promote positive health changes in the community. We participated in the Regional 2018 World HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March by organizing the walk and reading poems about HIV stigma. We also participated in a radio show to raise awareness in adolescent health and community health.

During Guy30 MST, you gave a presentation on writing proposals for sustainability. How did you fall into doing that?

I was actually told I had to do this in order to establish the Health Club. The RHO here is really big on “putting systems in place” and he wanted to make sure that the hospital had all the supporting documents to start something like this

What would you say is the most difficult part of service so far? What have you enjoyed the most?

The biggest challenge is trying to balance “being myself” while also being a professional. I want the community to feel like the kids are safe and learning positive things from me. At the same time, in this same small community, my lifestyle is very different from there’s and I struggle finding a way to be myself while also being their idea of a role model.

The best part is the connection and appreciation that I get from my students. Most seem extremely comfortable around me, and they go out of their way to spend time with me in the community.
 

Villages of Guyana:
“Whey Part Uze Live?”
Submitted by: Derek M, GUY30
 
Moving to a new country takes some time to get accustomed to the locations of different villages.  As someone with poor spatial reasoning and an automobile related narcolepsy, I am clueless when someone mentions a village or town name. This is especially difficult considering one of the first questions asked when getting to know another person is “Where do you live?” 

This year though, I made an effort to improve as I took my first vacation to the Lethem Rodeo. The unique nomenclature, I am told, comes from the different colonial powers that settled and departed from this beautiful country. Here are the Top 10 from East Bank Berbice to Lethem:

1. Now or Never

2. Bee-Hive

3. Letter T

4. Mc Doom

5. Zorg

6. Catherinas Lust

7. Adventure

8. Lovely Lass

9. Experiment

10. Bath
 

Note: Keep a lookout! I only stayed awake for 10 of a 20 hour road trip! So there are more! 

Idioms: Caribbean Edition
Submitted by: Derek M, GUY30

Guyana is known for its specific brand of Creole. As part of my integration, I made a point to be in as many conversations (gaff 24/7) and made sure to ask as many questions as possible on what I heard. Trying to find out the meaning of certain sayings, varies. I came across “The Students’ Companion”, an educational resource tied to the Caribbean, which shed some light on the situation.  I have listed the Top 10 Idioms, which remind me of what I have heard out and about Guyana. Enjoy!
 

1. After one time, is two time – things are no longer what they used to be. 

2. Common sense make before book sense – being street-smart does not require formal education. 

3. Don’t trouble trouble – don’t go looking for trouble. 

4. Monkey know which tree to climb – instinct often tells us who or what to challenge. 

5. One hand can’t clap – cooperation is necessary for success. 

6. All skin teeth is not laugh – a smiling or pleasant appearance can often conceal a dangerous purpose. 

7. Hurry bird don’t build good nest – take your time and do something well. 

8. Every zandolie (lizard) find its hole – know your place and keep it. 

9. Friends will carry you, but they don’t bring you back – we can often be led astray by others who can’t help us when we get into trouble. 

10. Thief from thief make God laugh – it’s amusing to see someone given a dose of their own medicine. 

“Whether we are close friends or have never met before, all PCV’s are welcome to attend — you are my American family in Guyana! The wedding time is rather late (4pm), but we will have sober drivers to take groups of you to NA or Skeldon if you plan to stay late to dance (which you should!). If you need a place to stay nearby, I recommend Classic Hotel in Skeldon — it has a movie theater, a very nice restaurant, swimming pool, and outdoor bar!
Please RSVP via Whatsapp
Your name and # of guests you are bringing by June 1st.
See you there!” 
Leah McManus MS, RD, PCV GUY27

What’s a PCVL?

As many volunteers may already know, Peace Corps Guyana has recently welcomed new PCVL’s: Amber Enyart and Rebecca Tatarsky. So, “what’s a PCVL?” you may ask. We decided to sit down with these GUY28 volunteers to find out.

What is the PCVL role?

Rebecca: “The PCVL is a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader who works as a liaison between the staff and the volunteers.

Amber: “…We want you to be able to come to us about anything, and if we need to we can refer you to whoever would be best to talk to. Or you can stay and talk to us too!”

How are you going to be able to support the incoming GUY 31 group?

Rebecca: “We’re going to be with them through pretty much their entire training time. In PST we will be assisting in the various sectors with facilitating sessions, answering any questions, and brainstorming with all the volunteers. It’s important for us to remind everyone that we are still volunteers, we are not staff.”

As volunteers, are you going to have an office in Georgetown?

Rebecca: “Yes, we do have an office in the Peace Corps office. We are on the third floor – the program and training floor – across from Melanie’s office. You can contact us through our cell-phones or by calling the Peace Corps office. My extension is 412.”

Amber: “I’m just thinking about how I want this to be a high-traffic office. Like, I want people to be stopping in here for any reason. I want the rug by the door to be worn out.”

What are you focusing on in your new PCVL role? What is your PCVL “project” regarding supporting volunteers?

Rebecca: “My focus is my experience with education and teaching adults as well as children. A lot of my work is going to be facilitating a lot of things for other volunteers.”

Amber: “Well to start, I actually want to read all of your VRF’s. I want to be able to know what you guys are doing on the ground, and be able to check in with you as I visit your sites and when you come into the office.”

Would you be able to assist volunteers with their projects?

Amber: “Yea, absolutely! Staff has a lot going on, especially right now with COS, MST, and PST. We would be a great place for someone to come with project advice, and then if we think it’s appropriate we can refer them to staff after we’ve talked and compared notes.” 

A big thank you to Amber and Rebecca, our new PCVLs! We hope the work is as rewarding and exciting as it sounds :).

HIV/AIDS Task Force

The HIV/AIDS task force is now working with the National AIDS Program Secretariat (better known as NAPS) to mass produce the posters submitted country-wide for World HIV/AIDS Day 2018.

“Our goal is to produce at least 300 posters to distribute around the country,” says chairperson PCV Lee Hendrix.

The HIV/AIDS Task Force and NAPS are working together to combine their respective resources. The goal is to create materials that are targeted for hinterland regions to provide them with a more holistic approach to HIV education. This would include interacting with local Health Workers and PCVS to spread awareness about NAPS before outreaches are occurring. 

IRC/ICT

Don’t forget to submit a video for this month’s submission within the IRC/ICT Skills Video Library, a way for PCVs to share helpful tipcs and tricks for various things. March marks the end of ‘Bake Wars’ and we now move on to April’s edition: ‘Entertainment Yearly’.

You have until the last Wednesday of the month to submit the video!

For more details contact Dylan Karl through WhatsApp

Peer Support Network

Congrats to PSN on an AWESOME facilitation of sessions throughout the GUY30 MST. Carly Ratekin led a great game of American Trivia the night before the conference.

The winners are pictured below with their prizes: the golden coconut, tortilla chips, and salsa… yummm.

Volunteer Advocacy Committee

Upon the exit of GUY 28, VAC has had some changes that we would like to announce! First and foremost, a big welcome to Caroline Deurwarder as the newest member of VAC! In addition, congratulations to Kelsi Seid who is the new Vice Chair and Carolyn Rodenburg as the new Chairperson. We are sad to say goodbye to GUY 28’s Jacki and Briona, who will leave the entire volunteer community with a stronger sense of communication and strength.

Feel free to continue to reach out to your closest VAC members if you have a concern or positive feedback for staff.

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