Staff Spotlight: Denise Neal Coyoc

Belize Country Coordinator
Denise started with ISL in 2008 as a Team Leader when programs first began in Belize. She has successfully helped strengthen the relationships and services we offer in Belize and piloted ISL internship programs this past summer.

What is your favorite travel memory?

ISL Team and Participants

My favorite memory was definitely during one of our community visits. We walked up to a woman doing laundry under a makeshift tent, both of her children with runny noses and protruding stomachs playing outside. She smiled as we approached, and warmly welcomed us into her "home" saying, "come in." It seemed she had only been living in the area for a few days considering the type of structure that was their shelter/home.

We stepped into the area around her home and felt so welcomed. She conversed with us as the children played a bit with the volunteers and all seemed well. As we conducted our interview and left, I kept thinking about that family and wondered what had brought them to this situation. It definitely seemed that whatever it was, must have have been even worse than what they were actually being faced with. I was content with the fact that they seemed content, never complaining about their current situation.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

One of ways I’ve changed is the way I prioritize things. After visiting numerous communities and talking with many residents, it has made me realize that happiness is not so much about material things. I have come to realize that material things make us comfortable, not necessarily happy.

Working with ISL, I have come to realize that as humans, we strive for similar goals. Regardless of our circumstance, we all have dreams and aspirations.

Many of the homes we are privileged to visit lack some of the basic material things I once felt I would not be able to survive without, but seeing how happy and welcoming the families are made me realize that happiness comes from within. It has made me more tolerant of situations knowing that change will come, and my situation is not permanent.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

It would certainly be one of the countries where I would be able to observe Well-Child International, Physical Therapy, and Dental programs. Those are the areas that I believe we need to get started in Belize.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

ISL Belize is unique for several reasons. Firstly, because English is our first language, communication is usually easier but if you know some Spanish, it's a plus because many of our communities in the rural areas speak Spanish.

Secondly, our culture is so diverse. It is reflected in food, music, language, and way of life. This is easily seen as volunteers visit the different communities we serve. Therefore, from visiting just one area of Belize you can experience so much in a short while.

Lastly, because the country is small, one can cover a lot of ground and get to see and do a lot while in Belize. This includes visits to Mayan sites, medicinal trails, caves, and our most popular barrier reef.

This experience in Belize is two-fold; we work hard but there are also lots of options for fun! I am always proud of my teams and the work they do. Once specific occasion included when our volunteers worked really hard during home visits to convince a patient to come to our clinic even though the patient felt there was nothing we could have done for them. The patient had already been through many series of treatments from different doctors. On the clinic day, the individual came to the clinic and was seen by our team. The doctor referred the individual to the hospital where he worked to get some specific tests to confirm his diagnosis.

The individual got the tests, a confirmed diagnosis, and was provided a relevant series of medication that led to a healing process. We were all happy that our persistence paid off and proud that we were able to successfully help the patient.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor in being a successful team is being able to remain focused on your objective. Many distractions come along when you work in the field, but staying focused helps you to stay on track and achieve your goals.

Sometimes when staff would call in about challenges in the field I always try and help them refocus by asking, "do you think you achieved your objective for the day despite X, Y, Z?"