Queen's Health Outreach: Guyana Initiative

Week Five Greetings from the Berbice team! Everything is going well here and time is flying by! Although we are still talking about depression and suicide in some of our classes, we have moved onto lessons about substance abuse and addiction, as well as sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, and contraceptives. On Friday, Caitlin and Logan taught at the Guysuco training centre for the first time. It was a very rewarding experience because the students there are much older and truly fit the definition of a peer, which is the aim of QHO. In addition to the lesson, they had very successful small group discussions surrounding topics of mental health, mental illness, and stigma, and we are very much looking forward to continuing those discussions when we go back this coming Friday. We were also able to set up some parent-teacher meetings for this coming week in which we will have the chance to speak with parents and teachers about topics of mental health, mental illness, stigma and suicide. On Wednesday we will be attending a parent-teacher meeting at J. C. Chandisingh Secondary School, where we teach grades 7 and 9 every day, and on Friday we will attend a meeting at Tain Primary School where we teach grade 6 twice a week. We are very excited for the opportunity to continue these discussions and spread the dialogue further spread the dialogue in the community. At home, we had a very exciting weekend with our friends from team Georgetown who came to visit us for two nights! It was very nice to see them all and catch up on stories. Saturday was a very busy day with a 6:30 am run to start it off. Our friends from the youth space took us to the beach again, where we spent most of the day. We played cricket and spikeball and swam in the ocean and overall had a blast! Each of our two groups of friends was happy to meet the other as they had heard so much about each other from us. After a very fun afternoon in the sun, some took necessary naps and relaxed before dinner. Logan, with the help of his sous-chef Caitlin, managed to make yet another delicious meal of black bean burgers which we all adored, of course! As the fourth-year students of the group are missing their convocation while on initiative, Caitlin, Isabelle, Alexa, Georgia and Sarah put on a mini-graduation for Hannah, Avery and Logan, complete with diplomas, graduation caps, speeches, and the oil thigh! On Sunday morning, we were invited to the Mandir again and got to take our Georgetown friends with us. We were sad to see them go on Sunday afternoon but were happy to have our beds back to ourselves! For an update on our team, Hannah is proud to announce that she has progressed from knee push-ups to full push-ups during our daily workouts. Logan bought an obnoxiously big silver ring that he wears on his middle finger, admitting it is the reason his life had felt incomplete before this purchase. Caitlin leads us in the toothbrush dance every night before bed and there is no loss of enthusiasm for it in sight. Isabelle slept until 8:30 am on Tuesday morning, which is by far a record as we usually wake up at 5:30 am to the music of the neighbours, cars, dogs, and Winston the rooster. The headlamp-look we have all adopted has pulled though yet again tonight as we are writing this in a blackout! As always, we are very much looking forward to the coming days and of course, still cheering on the Toronto Raptors from Guyana!

 

Hello from Team Berbice! We had a very busy last two weeks in Guyana! We finished off our lessons on depression and suicide, substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections and contraceptives, and played some fun games to review the content of all of our lessons from the beginning. We had the opportunity to speak in multiple parent-teacher meetings, focusing on depression and suicide awareness. It was great for us to be able to reach a different audience, especially one that plays such a critical part in the lives of our students. With our grade six classes, we put together some posters for their classrooms about good mental health and also ones displaying the suicide prevention hotlines that we talked about in class. It made for a fun class of drawing and colouring but also allowed us to reiterate the messages of our lessons on these topics as well as make the important phone numbers available for everyone in the schools. At home, we got to spend a lot of time with our friends from the community who taught us how to cook multiple delicious Guyanese dishes! We learned how to make roti and had lots of fun doing so (especially since we got to eat it after)! As repayment, we taught them how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and s’mores. It was really sad to say goodbye to all of our friends, we will really miss seeing them every day. Our last night in Berbice also happened to be the night the Raptors played game six in the NBA finals so we were all on the edge of our seats, Logan keeping us updated on the score. Obviously, we were unbelievably ecstatic when they won! It was definitely quite a big last night! The end of our seven-week initiative came so quickly! We wish we had more time, but it went very well and we are definitely going to miss our friends, our classes, Berbice, and each other so much when it’s over. Throughout initiative, we made sure to pay attention to things that went well and things that could have gone better, and took steps to help next year’s team do even more than us, for example by making a connection with the University of Guyana Berbice Campus. We are very excited for Caitlin to lead next year’s team and incorporate all that she learned during our initiative into the next. While this initiative has come to a close for us, we look forward to helping it continue in future years, especially with so many of us joining the executive team of QHO next year. We hope you have enjoyed keeping up with us for these seven weeks, we definitely enjoyed sharing it with you. Thanks everyone for your support, our initiative wouldn’t have been possible without it! Yours sincerely, Isabelle, Caitlin, Logan and Hannah