Tag Archives: VSO

Wam deh?

7 Feb

Translation: What happened there?

Yea, so I’ve been absent from this blog…whoops. I have a valid reason…a really gross valid reason.
I got a bite/sting, which led to a bacterial infection which led to cellulitis in my right foot.

Consequently, I had to be flown out of Lethem, where I was celebrating Heritage Month in St. Ignatius, and went to Georgetown for medical treatment.
5 days in a hospital decreased the swelling, but then I had to go through debridement (minor topical surgery where they remove the top layer of skin and dig out the infection).

All in all – about 5-6 weeks off my feet in October/November. And then the doctor said that I shouldn’t go back into the interior. Well, I didn’t listen. I went back in January. So there are more stories to tell.

But you’ll have to wait. Now, I’d like to show you my disgusting foot pictures:

What Am I Doing Here?

3 Jun

I ask myself that question every day.

I’m not asking because I don’t know. I’m asking because I’m still amazed that I’m here in Guyana.

If you asked me a year ago whether I’d pick up and move to another country, I would’ve said “I’d love to, but…” and gave you a string of excuses like work, money, time, etc.

If you asked me a year ago whether I ever wanted to visit Guyana, I would’ve said “Well, I’m sure it’s a lovely place, but…” and gave you a list of countries I want to visit instead.

If you asked me a year ago whether I’d love to live and work in Guyana, I would’ve given you a blank stare as I wondered why you were asking me such a random question.

But I can now answer that random question.
The answer is yes (did you guess correctly?)
And now to answer the question I am constantly asked:

“What are you doing here [in Guyana]?)

South Central People's Development AssociationWell….I am based in Shulinab Village and I work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) called the South Central People’s Development Association (SCPDA) which operates to serve 17 communities (Amerindian villages) in the South Central and South Rupununi. To you, this may/can be known as the rural part of Guyana in Region 9.

Here are the things I am/will be doing (with brief descriptions):

  • Working with women’s groups – teaching financial skills (e.g. bookkeeping and budgeting), teaching & learning different crafts (e.g. embroidery and bead jewelry), and researching the challenges facing women’s groups (e.g. consistent and active participation, leadership issues)
  • Working with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) – teaching financial skills (e.g. bookkeeping and budgeting)
  • Working with Individuals – who need financial skills (e.g. bookkeeping and budgeting).

Oh, you noticed a common theme? Could it be… bookkeeping and budgeting?

My official title is Enterprise Development Advisor. Yes, it’s a very vague title…but it means I can do anything related to business development (freedom! sort of…) I do have a speciality.

I teach financial skills to communities that request assistance in this field. I usually teach basic skills in bookkeeping (keeping accounts and ledgers in order, how to keep good records, how to create monthly statements) and budgeting for personal/household finances and for CBOs that spend money on inventory, supplies, and equipment.

Women's Group in Aishalton

I’m also trying to focus on working with Women’s Groups so that women can generate income for their families and have a solid support group should they need it.
Click on the picture above to check out the objectives of the Aisharatoon Women’s Association (the women’s group located in Aishalton village, South Rupununi).

I won’t bore you with nitty gritty details (I don’t think you care about my workshop material, for example), but if you would like to know or have any questions be sure to drop me a comment or an email. :)

Hello Guyana, Goodbye Canada (soon!)

26 Jan

Okay, so I haven’t updated this blog in awhile; and it’s not because I haven’t had spectacular things happen to me. It’s because I’m a bit busy and lazy. So here’s a quick recap:

  1. In the dead of winter (Feb 2011), I changed jobs. It was an exciting and much needed change and I met some great people and learned a lot because of it (I am no longer at this position).
  2. In the summer, I travelled to London for an amazing Indian wedding with people I’d consider family. I went to Paris to explore and hang out with a girl-friend. I fell in love with Copenhagen and their bike lanes while visiting a family-friend studying there.
  3. In the fall, I got to help plan and execute the TEDxToronto After Party. I met some inspiring artists and performers and had a lot of fun doing it.
  4. Around the end of 2011, I got together with two brilliant girl-friends and launched helloberry bracelets. Through the stresses of brainstorming, set-up, long meetings, and many late nights, we always had fun. I never thought I could do anything entrepreneurial, but I can’t say that any more. We’ve been well-received and our fans are fan-tastic! (see what I did there?)

And now….

I am moving to Guyana.

I will be there starting on February 9, 2012 for a one year placement in Shulinab, Guyana (located about 1-2 hours south of Lethem in the Interior) as a Women’s Enterprise Development Advisor. I applied to Cuso International and was selected by them along with VSO Guyana to work with the South Central People Development Association (SCPDA) .

I will be dedicated to working with and among various communities in the Rupununi region to assist with finance, accounting, and a bit of marketing and product development. I will mostly be working with Amerindian women who have enterprises in agriculture and craft-making. Although it seems that I will be teaching them business skills, I know I will learn lots from them as well.

A big question is


The simple answer: Why not?
The detailed explanation: I’ve always been an advocate of volunteering. I’ve always wanted to work for a non-profit organization; volunteering with one is the first step to working for one.
Many of you know that I love to travel. My travel has always been short-term because of time constraints. Now that I have the opportunity and freedom to do something long-term, I don’t want to just walk about the earth and see things. I want to do things – meaningful things.
And that’s why I’m doing this.

Now to answer the “Where exactly…?” questions, here’s a map to help you visualize where I’ll be located (click to enlarge):

By clicking that map I bet some of you just learned that Guyana isn’t an island (although it’s associated with the West Indies which include island nations), and that it’s situated in South America, above Brazil and to the east of Venezuela.

Guyana was colonized by the Brits (so they speak English). To the east, there is Suriname (colonized by the Dutch) and French Guiana (colonized by the French). These three countries are the only ones in South America that don’t speak either Spanish or Portuguese as first languages.

Okay, that’s enough geography and history for now.

Here’s where I ask you to support me and Cuso International.
Cuso International sends volunteers abroad to work on collaborative development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. They are one of North America’s largest international development non-profits that works through volunteers like me.

Here’s the great thing about donating – every dollar you donate is multiplied by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to help fund Cuso International’s efforts to support global development, environmental sustainability and social justice.


Donate now!

Thank you in advance for your donations; without your generosity, Cuso International wouldn’t be able to send volunteers overseas to pass on their knowledge and expertise.