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Day Two: An Action-Packed Day in Belize
I stumbled through the door at the end of my second day in Belize and unceremoniously threw myself onto the bed. This day had been as exhausting and enlightening as the first, which isn't a bad problem to have when you're traveling for work. Driven in a spacious van, our team moved from place to place, interview to interview, and meeting to meeting from dawn until well after dusk. We got just a taste of what life is like for our partners in Belize.
Today's agenda included visiting four schools in Belize City and Orange Walk that boasted strong partnerships with the Belize Family Life Association (BFLA). We also had the chance to attend a meeting of the Youth Advocacy Movement (YAM) in Orange Walk, a small district in the northern part of Belize near the Mexico border. Nightfall found us hanging out alongside a basketball court in the countryside, enjoying the youth-run festivities and watching a volleyball competition hosted by the members of the YAM in Crooked Tree, a village about thirty miles outside of Belize City.
The day was a blur of activity. During our interviews with guidance counselors and student Peer Helpers, I learned how BFLA works diligently with several schools to provide training and materials on topics related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. BFLA is also a trusted provider of youth-friendly services, in addition to other types of support or guidance young people may need.
"When BFLA calls me and asks me for things like this interview, I just have to agree," said Sandra Cadle, counselor at Edward P. Yorke High School in Belize City. "I can call them at the last minute for something, and they always respond to my needs."
Enthusiastic praise was lavished on BFLA by every person spoke with in each of the three communities. They spoke about the accessible, efficient, and youth-friendly services; the open and non-judgmental attitudes of clinical staff; and the outstanding level of support they had received from the BFLA over the years. “I don’t know what I would do without BFLA!” was a refrain that echoed throughout the day, perfectly capturing the high esteem in which the BFLA is held in Belize.
Despite the packed itinerary, our mini-tour of the country ran smoothly. Whether I was hastily swallowing lunch in the van, popping into a bakery to sample some local treats, helping YAM members spray paint a Cancer Walk banner, or speaking with people about BFLA’s youth programming, the atmosphere was one of fun and focus. I appreciated that we managed to do so much without the atmosphere becoming tense or frenzied.
By the time we were delivered to the hotel that night, I had gained an impressive knowledge of BFLA’s work with youth and the beauty of the Belizean countryside. From my achy perch on the bed, I glanced back and forth between the shower and the sheets. Decisions, decisions!