Morning: I wake up sweating. The temperature here is about 43°C, all year round. Due to the heat, most Guyanese people shower twice a day. I shower morning and night. I am lucky that St. Cuthbert’s has running water. Though some people have a shower, I do not and as such I have mastered the art of bucket showering! First, I wash my face, then I dip a small container into the water bucket and pour the water over my head. I do this twice. Then I lather up my hair and body, dip and pour, dip and pour, dip and pour. This was especially surprising to me!
My expectations prior to my trip were not high in terms of development standards but I live in a concrete house and many of the villagers also live in small concrete houses or houses built out of wood on stilts to evade flooding. Floods happen from time to time during the rainy season and thunderstorms happen 2-3 times a day! Here, you can actually see and hear the rain coming. I’ve watched people literally run from the rain.
Afternoon: The men in this village work in lumber or in mining while the women stay home and look after the children. Children go to school from nursery to Grade 11 and classes run from 8:30am-2:30pm. The two biggest challenges St. Cuthbert’s Mission faces are literacy and sanitation. As such, my volunteer partner and I teach literacy at the schools from Grades 1-11 and work with the locals developing sanitation workshops and drainage projects.
After a lesson on university and job prospects, a twelve-year-old girl, Orliza approached me to ask if I would tutor her because she wanted to go to university. I was deeply touched and began to see her 3 times a week for an hour and half where we would cover all subjects! Her eagerness to learn inspired me and motivated me as I saw the impact of my volunteer efforts. I spent my afternoons happily teaching all subjects.
Evening: In addition we have some side projects which include entrepreneurship, computer education, and health and fitness workshops. My day usually starts ends at around 11pm and no matter what time of day, there are always kids around!
Working with Youth Challenge International means that you are very busy. My volunteer party and I have a very busy social calendar! The people are very friendly and often we are invited for dinner. Weekends are filled with taking kids swimming, fishing, boat rides, farm visits. At night we would often go to the beach! There is never a dull moment!
Highlights: My volunteer efforts with outh Challenge International went beyond the classroom and into the village where I integrated with the community developing relationships. A particular relationship that blossomed was one with the Dundas family who took me in as one of their own. We often joked that I was Toby’s sister. Toby was a 3-year-old boy who looked a lot like my brother when he was young and he truly believed I was his sister! About a month after I left Guyana, Toby’s mom, gave birth to a little girl and named her Angela! I was overwhelmed with joy and it is without a doubt the highlight of my experience.