Last year I spent three months working as a volunteer in Belize. I had initially planned to go for six months but sadly it proved to be too expensive and I was forced to return to the UK in December. The plan was always to go back and continue my volunteer placement. After having spoken with my former placement leader, Ms Lindy Jeffery, most of my family and my Belizean host family it has been agreed that if all goes to plan I should re-commence my placement around the end of October.
To summarise my last three months in Belize; I was working for a quasi-government body called the National Council on Ageing. My main role was to draft an Act for Older Persons. This was not possible to achieve in three months. I did make some progress including amending the Constitution of Belize so as to make discrimination on the grounds of age unlawful. There is a more detailed account of my placement over at the Belize 04 segment in this site. When I do return I shall be continuing with the work I had started as well as helping out with day-to-day NCA activities.
Two of the main reasons why I am keen to return are that firstly the whole idea of being an overseas volunteer is to ensure that everything you do is sustainable. At present the Government department responsible for drafting new laws (Attorney Generalâ€™s Ministry) has a huge backlog. Any work that I begun, if passed on to the AGâ€™s office is not likely to be completed in the foreseeable future. I feel that if I were to leave the work at the stage it is at now, it would almost seem a waste having started it as there is no realistic possibility of it being completed in a timely fashion.
Secondly, though the NCA is a national organisation it has only one paid member of staff. Owing the financial crisis that the Belizean Government is experiencing and the staff cuts that have hit all Government departments, the NCA are unlikely to receive funding to employ someone else. Ms Jeffery has a lot of work to carry out and I feel that not only does she work hard enough as it is, there is just too much work for one person to do. I feel that returning to Belize I shall be able to assist with the general day-to-day running of the office.
I have a host of other reasons but these are explained in full in the Belize 05 section of this site.
Over the next few days I shall be blogging about how I plan to make my return to Belize a reality and why the work I shall be doing is important and necessary.