Thursday, July 24, 2008

In My Experience

Karl and I are soon wrapping up our time here in Belize. I figured I would use this opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings about volunteering over the last 3 months before I am ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. Overall I feel that my time here has been successful and rewarding. Partly this is just the nature of my profession, but I am also fortunate to have found many supportive people in the Cayo district.

My first few weeks here were a little disorganized which made it difficult to create a schedule. I felt overwhelmed with where to start and how to maximize my potential impact on the community. Of course things only really started falling into place when I was halfway through my time here. I think most volunteers would agree that each day you run into frustrations that could easily strip you of your energy and passion for being here. Despite these frustrations I really feel like I accomplished what I came here for. Over the last three months I have overcome fears (such as riding a one speed bike with no suspension on unpaved roads without a helmet available), improved my Spanish speaking skills (I can now speak fluently with at least a 7 year old!), gained an amazing perspective on health care in a developing country, and was able to work with dozens of community members using just my hands & knowledge to improve their quality of life. Looking back the frustrations are forgotten and I will only remember the positives.

The other day I spent my last day volunteering at a senior center located in San Ignacio. They run an exercise clinic 3 days weekly. Nurse Dorothy (a volunteer registered nurse from Europe) is the only full-time staff leading the exercise department on top of various other nursing duties. I was only able to spend 4 days at the clinic due to my busy schedule, but she was beyond grateful for this. The entire staff and all the patients were always so warm and welcoming. After my final day Nurse Dorothy gave me a goodbye gift along with a letter to show her appreciation. This was beyond necessary of course, but it points out that the thought really does count. It provided me with the culminating moment of why I chose this profession and why I came all this way to volunteer in Belize. After all, it truly means more to me to be able to help out at Octavia Waight than it does for any of the staff or patients.

Great thanks goes to my husband for allowing us to uproot our lives to make this adventure happen. It has been a long term goal of mine to just make it here and fortunately our time has been very worthwhile. Thanks to everyone at home for your love and support.

Stay tuned for the Belize Top 10 - our way of improving tourism in this beautiful, yet hot country.


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