After finally making it to Punta Gorda we were off at a fast pace as far as Belizean standards go! After arriving the previous evening we began work the following morning. My first week was to be at Hillside Health Care International.
I followed a wonderful doctor who volunteered her time at HHCI as a physical therapist. She had so much patience and truly provided me an educational experience. While working at HHCI did not fully relate to my field of study (Therapeutic Recreation) I did have a chance to put some of my skills to work by doing home visits to the PT clients and also facilitating bingo at a medication awareness program for seniors. I was also able to be resourceful and create some sensory bottles for mothers with developmentally delayed babies for HHCI to use.
While on the home visits I was truly able to appreciate what I have in my life in Canada. While I cannot say that the lacking material possessions or health caused the residents of PG to be less happy. Many of the houses I visited took great pride in their homes, and their possessions reflected the importance of family and community relationships. While visiting residents homes in the area I tried to “shut off” my Canadian lens and look at their lives with no bias; what I found is that material items do not have a correlation to one’s happiness.
During my time in the schools was very memorable. We visited local schools to provide education to the children regarding hand washing and oral hygiene. This definitely took me out of my comfort zone and ended up being such a great experience. The kids are very loving and respectful; always calling me “Miss”. Recess was a great time to interact with the children and we were lucky to have a few games of soccer with the children and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love being able to run faster than someone!
Another great learning moment for me was from the sense of community here. This town has a lot of much needed international help so it is common to see many different ethnic groups here. I felt completely welcomed to this town and the kindness of an east coaster has nothing on those who live in Punta Gorda. Every evening it was commonplace to have locals say goodnight to you as you walked home from supper-this doesn’t happen back home! Many cars honk their horn at pedestrians here which is for safety unlike the meaning it possesses home!
Therapeutic Recreation Student
NSCC, Waterfront Campus