RVA Students Cherish Belize Visit
Three students from the Richmond Vale Academy( RVA) who recently returned from Belize after a 6-month stint in that Central American/Caricom country, have all said they will cherish that experience for a very long time.
The students, Justyna Gudra from Poland, Mami Tsuboya of Japan and Whitney Samuel from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, were part of a 10-month programme called 'Fighting for the Poor'.
The first phase of the programme involved 3 months of training at RVA, where they engaged in theoretical studies and were exposed to different perspectives and strategies to fight poverty.
The second phase was a 6-month volunteer assignment in Belize or Ecuador.
The final phase - a month at the RVA - was devoted to drawing conclusions and documenting information garnered over the period.
The Richmond Vale Academy's involvement in the programme is linked to its collaboration with Humana People to People - a network of non-profit organizations in Europe , North America, Africa , Asia and Latin America , working in the field of international solidarity and cooperation, and development.
In Belize, the RVA students joined with activists from all over the world to highlight sustainable development towards the eradication of poverty. in some of the poorest villages.
They focused on creating change in farming, education and health practices, and worked with children, parents, farmers, teachers in a small Mayan village.
Mami Tsuboya told THE VINCENTIAN that they distributed around 1500 trees among farmers, and promoted gardening to improve the villages' diet and general state of health.
"They had basic knowledge about gardening so we transmitted some innovative ideas and techniques," said Mami .
Among the techniques shared were: saving seeds from the food that they eat; making sowing pots from toilet paper rolls; cultivating earthworms to prepare soil for sowing; and the importance of mulching to combat drought.
"We held several activities at a preschool to bring out children's creativity. One of them was teaching them Origami ..how to fold a paper into a plane," said Mami.
The team also engaged with women's clubs, holding education sessions and practical demonstrations related to food security and preparation, health, income generation, community improvement and building pig pens.
As for the impact on their lives and life's outlook, Justyna Gudra noted that she came away with a greater appreciation for life, and feels more creative and motivated.
She believes that the time in Belize should be extended so that students could make a greater impact.
Whitney said that what she took away from her experience, "is the freedom to choose. The freedom to do whatever you want and also to appreciate what you have in life, because there are persons out there who have it worse off than you."
" This experience has motivated me and I appreciate what Richmond Vale has done," said Mami.
Students who completes the 10-month programme will receive a Field Work Certification from Humana People to People and Certification of Completion from Richmond Vale Academy.