A Travellerspoint blog

Anne's Blog

International Service Learning Program in Belize 2013


As we drive to Hillside clinic each day we pass a tree called the flamboyant tree. It has beautiful orange-red blossoms on a bed of green. It is growing on land that is dry and burnt from lack of rain next to houses that are shacks by our standards. It grows unexpectedly and flourishes despite adversity and its beauty never fails to amaze me.

That has been my impression of the Health and Human services students from NSCC.They started as strangers,unsure of themselves and others and have blossomed into mature young men and women. They have endured long delays at airports,a hot an crowded 6 hour bus ride,intense heat and a dry swimming pool.They have tackled new challenges like the heat, close quarters with virtual strangers and new foods(fry jacks) with enthusiasm.They have thrown themselves into new situations like the Toledo schools and Hillside clinic with little trepidation and a lot of passion,eager to teach and learn at the same time.They have offered shoulders to cry on and encouragement and praise for jobs well done.They have truly been like the flamboyant tree, strong, beautiful and an unexpected pleasure .Well done guys and gals.

Anne Schleit
Continuing Care Assistant Faculty
NSCC, Burridge Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 09:12 Archived in Belize Tagged education belize nova_scotia health study_abroad service_learning Comments (0)

Nicole P's Blog

International Service Learning Program in Belize 2013

As I sit on the balcony at the hotel in Punta Gorda around 8 pm I can listen to the children playing and laughing down in the town and it reminds me of the laughing I got to hear from a 13 year old patient with Cerebral Palsy who was fitted for his very first wheel chair. The volunteers at the Hillside Clinic spoke directly to the boy while working with him. It was wonderful to see the smile and hear the laughing come from the boy as they fitted the wheel chair to his body. The clinic also tried to use resources they know the family can get. They suggested using rolled up cloth or towels to use by his legs until he got use to the wheel chair to avoid sores on his legs and sides. The excitement on his father’s face as he wheeled his son out of the clinic rather than carrying him was a bonus as well. Seeing this brought tears to my eyes as I study in the disability supports field.

This experience has taught me to appreciate the things we take for granted back at home such as the supports persons with disabilities can receive back at home. I also got to take part in home visits with an occupational therapist. Most of the people here have greeted me with a smile as I walk throughout the town. Every person we went to see was happy to have new faces enter their home. I have also learned on this service learning program to not underestimate people and to go into people’s houses with an open mind and to watch my non-verbal communication because life here is much different than in Canada. This will be a valuable tool to have back home as well.

Nicole Peel
Disability Support Services Student
NSCC, Kingstec Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 14:01 Archived in Belize Tagged education belize nova_scotia health study_abroad service_learning disability_support Comments (0)

Kelly's Blog

International Service Learning Program in Belize 2013

We are beginning our second and last week in Punta Gorda, Belize. As any Canadian knows, the weather is always a topic of discussion but for us – there is only one descriptor for every day here – it is HOT!
Our students are all performing at a high level on their projects and despite a number of challenges, they support and encourage one another.

I was aware before this trip that the Belizean health care system is quite different from what we are used to in Nova Scotia. One of our partners for this project is The Hillside Clinic, which is staffed by volunteer health professionals. This clinic provides much needed medical/nursing/rehabilitative and home health services but… it’s not nearly enough. Hillside has offered an amazing opportunity for our students from the Pharmacy Tech and Practical Nursing programs. Late last week, I saw a 3yr old girl at the clinic with a very involved infection in her thigh. It had spread to her groin area, involved the lymph nodes and was clearly moving towards the abdominal cavity. The attending physician consulted with the clinic medical director to determine the best course of action. Everyone agreed that in Canada this child would be admitted to hospital, have intravenous antibiotics started immediately and have the site of the infection lanced and drained in an operating room. However, this would not be possible here. Instead, she was given an injectable antibiotic and her Mom was given instructions to bring her back the next day for another injection. Everyone was aware that this wasn’t optimal but it was available. I looked forward to seeing the little girl the next day and hoped there would be some improvement in her condition. She didn’t come back. Compliance for treatment is an issue in any health setting but the overarching issues here are that needed health care for many people in this part of Belize is not adequate and Hillside Clinic cannot provide everything to everyone.

There is definitely a difference in “knowing” other parts of the world have different health care standards and then witnessing that reality up close and personal. Students are not the only ones here that are learning and growing!

Kelly McKnight
Projects Director
School of Health & Human Services

Posted by NSCC Intl 13:58 Archived in Belize Tagged education belize nova_scotia health healthcare study_abroad service_learning Comments (0)

Bev's Blog

International Service Learning Program in Belize 2013

Our week thus far in Belize has been incredible. We are fortunate to have a group of students who are truly embracing this experience and I am proud to be here with them representing NSCC. We have been divided into two groups, one to go to the schools to teach hand washing and oral hygiene and the other to observe at the Hillside Clinic. These groups will switch the second week we are here. I have spent the last four days with a group of five students at the clinic.

The Hillside Clinic is run by a group of volunteer health care providers such as physicians, pharmacists and nurses and serves as an educational opportunity for students in several health care disciplines. The clinic provides outpatient services to the villages around Punta Gorda. There are several mobile clinics where Hillside volunteers will travel to more rural areas. The NSCC students have participated in these mobile clinics, home visits and outreach programs for seniors in the community. Observing the NSCC students interact with clinicians and patients at the Hillside Clinic has been amazing. Hillside exemplifies interprofessional/interdisciplinary care where all health care providers work together, interacting and discussing patient care. Hillside has provided a wonderful and exciting learning experience.

The NSCC students have been professional every step of the way whether it involved cancelled flights, lost luggage or long van rides. They have adapted without complaint and moved forward with a positive attitude. They greet each new experience with anticipation, excitement and an open mind. Each night we share a dinner together where we discuss the highlights and challenges of the day, which we refer to as “apples and onions”. As a faculty I cannot express how appreciative I am to be here and share this experience with everyone.

Bev Stotz
Pharmacy Technology Faculty
NSCC, Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 10:06 Archived in Belize Tagged education belize nova_scotia pharmacy healthcare study_abroad service_learning Comments (0)

Nicole B.'s Blog

International Service Learning Program in Belize 2013

Our adventure set off to a rough start, having a delayed flight, which cost us two full days of travelling including a very cramped five hour bus ride to our final destination. With such a rocky start I could only be worried about what the remainder of the trip would entail. I have been pleasantly surprised with our activities ever since. Tide Tours has done an amazing job of accommodating our group. We eat at a different place each night and the food has all been great!
This week I travelled to three different schools, where Kristie and myself went into a number of classes with activities involving hand washing and oral hygiene. Going into this project we had limited information about the schools facilities, and their background knowledge around basic hygiene. All of the classes ceased to amaze me when they knew to brush their teeth three times a day, and every time I missed washing my hands during a skit. Instead of teaching about basic hygiene it became more of a reinforcement. It was so rewarding to see such beautiful, bright children take something away from us, but also for us to take something away as well.
This opportunity has proven that I am able to adapt to new situations. Our first day at the schools was tough not knowing how much background these children already had, we managed to assess the situation and grow our lesson plan, and as the classes progressed the children became more interactive.

Nicole Boyd
Pharmacy Technology Student
NSCC, Waterfront Campus

Posted by NSCC Intl 10:02 Archived in Belize Tagged education belize nova_scotia study_abroad pharmacy_technology service_learning Comments (1)

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