GOLD Guyana 2012

Hello and welcome to our blog! We are a group of 6 Girlguiding UK members aged between 19 and 27, who have been selected to take part in a GOLD project this summer.
GOLD stands for Guiding Overseas Linked with Development, a project run by Girlguiding UK which gives young women aged between 18 and 30 the chance to assist in community action projects in other countries. As well as making a positive impact on the community, we also hope to grow the Guiding Association in the country so that they can participate more fully in WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts). There are 8 projects this year, including our destination Guyana.
We're all very excited for our GOLD journey to begin, and we hope you enjoy reading about how we are preparing and what we are doing when we get there!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Go well and safely


Yesterday was evaluation day, so we were at HQ for 11am to meet the girls all in smart uniform. It was raining cats and dogs and all the streets were flooded (it’s not like it rains here a lot in the rainforest you know…) so lots of the girls were late or stuck at home. That was sad as we’d have liked to have seen them again but the ones who came gave us great points to take away and discuss before next year’s project. We were sadly unable to make it to the zoo in the morning due to the rain and also being super busy preparing for evaluation! We gave the girls gifts to say thank you for being so brilliant and got hugs in return which was lovely and a few tears came our way (from Nikki of course!)
Afterwards we went for a well earned meal at the Roti Hut, our new favourite place, as we were starving and by the time we finished up at HQ and got there it was past 2pm! Laura and Heather went to the supermarket and Nikki, Hannah and I went home via the fruit man. Once we were home and Laura and Heather had returned, we went to sort out our tour afterwards to Arrowpoint Lodge, and to pick up a menu from Pizza Hut! The evening brought with it our pizza party which was so much fun and involved learning some awesome Guyanese dancing! Not sure we quite did it like them but we had fun anyway! There was a little bit of cheesy 90s pop being sung as well! There were hugs and tears as we sang ‘Go well and safely’ out of the window as the girls left. After a lovely evening we relaxed together and had fun on our last night as a team in Guyana!
Pizza party!
This is our last blog post from Guyana as today Laura left! Tears all around as the taxi came to pick her up. Heather and Hannah went with her to the airport whilst Nikki and I said goodbye at the gate. Nobody can quite believe how quickly these three weeks have gone and that project has now ended! As we are leaving for tour tomorrow we are all busy packing and washing in preparation but it feels like we should be planning something or thinking of a training!

After twelve days of trainings, camp, evaluation, and three weeks of life in Guyana this is Team Guyana 2012 signing out. We hope you have enjoyed hearing about our journey and our time on GOLD – its been an unforgettable experience.

Team Guyana 2012, over and out. 

Friday, 10 August 2012

Because I am a girlguide there's nothing I'd rather be!

We arrived back from camp yesterday, dirty, smelly and exhausted so the update is coming today! It has been a busy four days so there is lots to write!

Day 1 – Monday
Crowding on the bus
We were up bright and early for Nikki and Laura to go resources shopping with Berle and Sarah, and so we could have pancakes! Heather, Hannah and I spent the morning preparing, packing the resources bag and cleaning the apartment. At lunch time we had a homemade pepperpot that was made for us by Miranda’s (one of the guiders) Mum! It was soon time to get in a taxi to HQ with our hundreds of bags to meet the girls and the bus. There were 12 girls when we arrived and once all was packed on we thought it was a full as it could get, but we stopped twice to pick up more people and more stuff on the way!  We squeezed in however and drove through some beautiful countryside and over the Berbice river to reach New Amsterdam. It was somewhat a surprise therefore when we arrived at the campsite, expecting a rural wilderness, which was a church garden off the main street. We soldiered on however and got a horseshoe of tents up before dark and just before rain came. Some of the tents were slightly dodgy looking and one of them needed pegging out just where a giant pile of poo was. There were actually several piles of poo around and we saw some of the animals that were making them too… Bless Saudia who went round and scraped the worst of it up, then covered it with hay. It was a good job as the girls were running around in bare feet, despite our best advice. We had some small activities planned to learn names and similar but as it was dark we left them to get settled after dinner.

Day 2 - Tuesday

At the orphanage
Teaching knots!
After an uncomfortably hot night we woke at 6am with the sun and got changed (with some grumbling from Heather and I!) to begin the day. It’s surprising how hot the sun is even in the morning! This morning we were teaching knots which was really fun and the girls got into it! We had an Olympic theme so each patrol had a country name, and we had an Opening Ceremony and then raised the flags and sang both national anthems. The girls could earn pieces of string for good deeds and things well done so we said if they could show us all 7 knots we’d taught them they would get a piece of string. They all managed it so we were very proud, particularly as we’d only learnt the knots ourselves that morning. The church gave us an indoor space that we could use which was great as somewhere shaded to have lunch and do activities, and get some relief from the sun burning down. The leftover food from Monday was taken by Berle, Hannah and Nikki to a childrens orphanage which was lovely but really humbling experience for them. The afternoon was given over to water games which cause a lot of complaining but they did enjoy and was very funny to watch, particularly when Hannah, Laura and Nikki got their own back on Heather causing a water fight! It was quite a relief to cool down after the heat of the day. After drying off we left them to practice for their talent show in the evening, bathe (their favourite thing – they were not amused to hear that when I go to Guide camp in the UK we go for 5 days and don’t bathe!) and do duties.We had a quick wet wipe wash and spray with febreeze to freshen up before evening entertainment. The talent show was great and it was really hard to pick the winner!  Luckily Berle was there to be the decider.

Team games!
Day 3 – Wednesday
This morning, after a much better night’s sleep, we began with crafts which everyone enjoyed, one of the girls even made 5 pom poms which she is going to put on her school bag! We also had them making friendship bracelets, beaded geckos and dreamcatchers. That kept them going till lunchtime and after lunch we played some more team games. It was surprising as it started to absolutely tip it down but the girls wanted to carry on anyway – despite all the moaning the day before! It was fun for them though and then they went off and organised their own games. After they had dried off and changed into (for some of them) the fourth outfit of the day, they went into town for a look about and to visit the shop with Erin and Saudia leading. We stayed at the campsite and did some planning. It was campfire in the evening which was interesting as the wood was somewhat damp and did not want to light. Luckily we had some kerosene to make FIRE which Heather enjoyed using her skills as a Science teacher! We also sang songs about burning and fire to encourage it to burn! Sadly after the kerosene had burned out there was only embers but we had a nice time and sang ourselves hoarse. By the time we went to bed we were all exhausted!

Day 4 - Thursday
With several more mozzie bites than we would have hoped for (i.e. hundreds) we woke for the final day at camp. We put away our tents once they had dried from morning dew and helped the girls take down theirs which was an interesting experience! The bus company rang to say they wouldn’t be there till 2pm as they were leaving Georgetown at 11am so we completed all our striking camp tasks, had lunch and a closing ceremony where we awarded the prizes to the winning team and said goodbye in time for 2pm. At 4.30pm the bus finally turned up, and the packing saga began. By the end of it, Nikki was literally sitting in one of the cooking pots sharing 4 and a 3 year old to 3 seats, stuff was piled high everywhere possible and some places that shouldn’t be possible! By the time we reached Georgetown having stopped to drop people off three or four times (involving taking off all the pots to clear the exit each time) we were exhausted, hot and somewhat travel sick. Thankfully the bus dropped us off at home so we could just climb the stairs and collapse. Unfortunately we were not home in time to go to the concert with Maria but we had lovely showers and visited the Roti Hut which was amazing!! We even had ice cream and cake afterwards! Just what we needed after a long day! We had to do planning before we could finally fall, clean and full of food, into a comfy bed with a fan! Relief!

Happy campers!
We all enjoyed camp (despite some original feelings) but we were glad to be home yesterday, particularly after the bus journey! Today is evaluation day and the end of the project causing some tears this morning! Tomorrow when Laura leaves is going to be sad times but wow – what a project!

Lots of GOLD love
Team Guyana 2012

Monday, 6 August 2012

A busy weekend!

Hello everyone!
With all the leaders after training
We have been having another busy few days! On Saturday we had a training session with the leaders and it was great to meet them all. Hopefully we have helped them with the sessions we did on camp planning and badges. We had around 16 leaders which was quite a success and possibly due to having a weekend training, which is something to think about for next year’s project. After training there was some shopping to be done, and then home for some intense camp planning. We also had to get ready for dinner with Mrs. P and Maria which was lovely and we got to try lots of Guyanese cuisine including boiled breadfruit which is quite like potato! After dinner we got down to some more planning and ended up with a considerable To Do List!

Heather preparing for camp!
Maria took Heather and Laura to church on Sunday morning which started at 7am and went on till 10am! They had a good time and an interesting experience of a different culture. We continued the culture theme by going out for brunch with Berle, Sarah, Gloria, Oshelle and some of the other commissioners for Guiding in Guyana. We went to a Guyanese buffet called Herdmanston House and Lodge which was really nice and gave us a chance to try the national dish of Guyana – pepperpot. We also had ‘bakes’, curry, and salted fish! Everyone was very brave and gave it all a try – it was all good! After ticking off all the other things on our to do list, we watched Christina Ohuruogu win her silver medal in the women’s 400m which was very exciting! We also watched the Men’s 100m final – go Usain Bolt! We are very much enjoying our occasional watching of the Olympics even though it is punctuated by very odd adverts and hardly visible on the TV. We are keeping up with Britain’s efforts online too!
With the leaders at brunch
After that we went to Pegasus Hotel to go swimming! That was really refreshing and just what we needed. We had a really nice dinner and a cocktail which was appreciated after the busy week we’ve had. By the end of the day we were all ready for bed and went straight there when we arrived home!
Today we are going camping so it is all go here, Sarah is coming to take Nikki and Laura to get some more resources, everyone is furiously packing and hoping things will dry in time! We will be away until Thursday so probably no posts until then – don’t worry about us, we haven’t got lost! Sarah has told us to expect up to 30 guides so we shall see what happens there… I think we will be 5 very tired GOLDies on Thursday!
Lots of GOLD love
Team Guyana 2012


Saturday, 4 August 2012


 Hello everyone!

Hannah and her saviours!
We have had an amazing few days and have been as busy as bees! Yesterday (Thursday) was our last day of training with the girls at HQ so mixed feelings of happiness at how the girls had grown, and sadness at how quickly the time has gone! Our plan for the day was to help the girls complete the active response badge which certainly kept both them and us busy. It involves dealing with bleeding, if someone’s not breathing, accident response, making an emergency phone call and fire and water safety. Luckily we had our resident lifesaver, Hannah, on standby for the water safety! The girls did really well –especially in the heat, even the Guyanese were feeling it - and all the ones who were there all day passed (we had two after lunch stragglers who passed their clauses too). We had a little ‘assessment’ at the end of the day – Laura was not breathing, I was drowning in water, Hannah was bleeding profusely, and Heather’s house was on fire. They all dealt with each situation in a calm manner and were so good at keeping us calm too! We had an amazing lunch of roti and curry homemade for us by some of the Leaders. One of the girls brought us cake and biscuits which was so cute and really appreciated – yum! A special mention must go to Laura for Thursday for her amazing golf swing cockroach removal (much to everyone’s relief – I was standing on the bed trying not to scream).
All the girls!
Today was an amazing day! Heather, Hannah and I were up with the sun at 5.15am to get ready and walk (after leaping the locked gate to our house) to Romaira Airways where we caught a bus to take us to the airport for our flight to Kaieteur Falls! The bus there was interesting – not the two beautiful ones either side but a normal #42 minibus looking a bit beaten! We were amazed to find inside that it had air con though. When we arrived at the airport after a bit of kerfuffle outside we were allowed to check in through the ‘Flight Crew and VIPs’ queue, and sit and wait in the executive lounge. We each had a cup of tea and a biscuit but sadly my tea was slightly orange… After a slight delay due to weather we eventually caught our first view of the plane. It was tiny, and just about fitted in the 9 passengers and the pilot. Hannah and I held hands in terror during the take-off but were soon overawed by the amount of trees and beautiful scenery beneath us. The noise and vibration from the wings was incredible so it was with a certain amount of relief that we came upon the mountains and saw some beautiful cliffsides rising up beneath us. 
Shortly we had our first view of the falls – the largest single drop waterfall in the world – and the pilot took us on a slightly terrifying circle over it which was amazing. We came into land on this tiny and bumpy looking runway and with relief stepped out onto the grass into Kaieteur National Park. There was a beautiful building to look at but soon we were on our way into the rainforest with our guide, Lee, who was casually wearing flip flops and hopping about all over the place! We saw some golden frogs which are only 16mm in adulthood, and an alarm clock beetle! The view of the falls and the mist coming off were amazing, and we had a fab time visiting all the views (one of which was called Boy Scout’s view) and taking daring pictures near the edge and down a little rock climb! Needless to say, we were all in amazement and awe. The flight home was equally as hair-raising – the pilot, at 5000ft, decided to open his window and fly with his arm out of it… casual. Eventually we reached Timehri Airport and were soon reunited with Nikki and Laura. They had been having a busy morning buying Guyana out of souvenirs, and were chilling out when we arrived, hot and sweaty.
Heather, Jess and Hannah at Kaieteur Falls
After a quick relax, Nikki, Hannah and I went off to Mr. Phagoo’s – a buy-everything shop – and the Guyana store for camp resources. On our return, Heather and Laura had washed the team tops, and we had a lovely chat with our neighbour Maria. We were then surprised by a huge number of bats that appeared in the garden and Heather even managed to get a picture of one – they fly really fast and at your head!
We have been so lucky these past two days and although we are tired I think we’d all agree it was worth it! Hopefully lots of the girls we’ve been working with will be there at camp!

Lots of GOLD love
Team Guyana 2012

The team and our badge planning!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Happy Emancipation Day!

The crowds and the stage in the National Park
Today is Emancipation Day (celebrating the abolition of slavery fully passed on the 1st August 1836) and we have been celebrating in true Guyanese style! We went to Berle’s office at a prompt 2pm expecting to meet Schemel and Oshelle, two people we know from Guides, and of course left about 3pm! We were joined by Barry and Claire, a couple working for the church in Guyana, from New Zealand. When we arrived at the National Park it was busy and boiling hot! We had a wander along the rows of stalls selling food, jewellery, toys and some with information about the original Guyanese villages and African culture. (Before you say, I know we are in South America but due to the slave trade – our bad – there is lots of African culture here and that is what they were celebrating!) There was also some African material and clothes to buy and lots of amazing creations on display! Quite a lot of people watching ensued as we finished purchasing and headed to the stands to watch dancing, martial arts and singing displayed on a stage. We tried lots of Guyanese food – cassava pone wrapped in a leaf, a pink and white cake type thing with coconut involved, sweet and salty plantain chips (amazing) and candyfloss! (Not sure if that’s traditional, but we ate it anyway!)
Some of our favourite outfits
As we baked under the equatorial sun even the Guyanese were feeling the heat and we copied their brilliant idea of hiding under an umbrella from the sun. The displays on the stage were great and really entertaining but we sadly had to leave as it would be soon time for sun setting and it’s better to be safe at home before that happens. We have been busy since then planning and taking in washing and making dinner! Tomorrow we are back to training and hopefully the girls will learn some first aid skills… watch this space!
Lots of GOLD love
A very warm Team Guyana 2012

The team feeling hot but happy!

P.S. Hope all the other teams are having as great a time as us on project – can’t wait to hear all the adventures and we’re enjoying reading the blogs!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Feeling hot hot hot

Talking about advocacy yesterday

We have a had a run of extremely hot days recently and humidity this evening was 94% so we’re feeling quite tired and lacking in energy! The weather forecast is ‘Feels like 47°C’ so we’re really looking forward to that… After the success of yesterday’s advocacy training we were ready for some more and our wish for more girls was accorded, to our delight. When we arrived there were only three girls waiting for us which was a bit worrying but we did some singing and slowly girls turned up until we had a fair number. In the morning we discussed ways to advocate – one suggestion was skywriting – and made postcards inviting people to join Guides, similar to our UK ones. We also did some team building games, just like the ones at INTOPS, and some shouting games. Heather, Hannah and I had to run off to pay for our flight to Kaieteur Falls, but like true Guides made it back just in time for lunch! We quite enjoyed our little trip as it was full of air conditioning but it was a shame to miss chatting to the girls as they did their artwork.
Hannah getting her nails done yesterday!
After lunch we handed over leadership to some of the young leaders and older girls and facilitated them making Problem Trees, where the problem is written along the trunk, causes in the roots and consequences in the branches. Once they had this to go on they wrote speeches and performed them. We sat and heckled in the back row to encourage them to be louder – mainly Laura shouting ‘Ain’t no flies on me!’ The change in the girls from when we first met them was again plain to see, a few in particular have really come out of their shells and are so much more confident! The evaluations from today made us all smile too J
This evening we have been able to relax as tomorrow is a day off for Emancipation Day! We are hoping to go to the National Park and join in some of the celebrations. There are also plans for washing and pancakes so we will let you know how that goes!
The other main event of the evening was to a visit from our downstairs neighbour Lily, who is lovely, and so brave as she has moved here for 9 months! On the subject of neighbours, we tried the Sasparilla (I think) fruits that Mrs P gave us but they weren’t our favourite! We were also given some bananas by Maria from her friend’s garden!
Lots of GOLD love

Team Guyana 2012

Welcome to the Caribbean love!

It was our second day off yesterday and Ashley, one of the Guyanese Nikki met last year, took us to Princess Hotel which is the most expensive one in Georgetown to go swimming! We were all very excited about the prospect, particularly due to the brown water. We arrived and a bit bizarrely had our bags searched, but found a nice table spot next to the deep end and quite quickly got in. It was such a nice pool and so just what we needed to be clean and cool! We were very excited about the prospect of a tan too (except the non-tanning ones among us). It was 10ft deep at the end and we had a ‘who can touch the bottom’ competition, definitely won by Ashley, with the runner-up being Heather. After we’d had enough of sunning and swimming and the clouds began to gather we went and sat in the shade and ordered some chips. Sadly it was about two hours later before the chips actually arrived so we were a little disappointed and very hungry! We got some free fried fish and plantain chips for our wait though so that was appreciated. We then left and took a taxi home. The taxi route took us through some of the poorer areas, and having just been in such a luxurious hotel the difference was even more marked and reminded us that even though we’d had a lovely day in a fab location, there is a reason for our trip and hopefully we will make a difference.
When we reached home we chatted to Ashley and planned for our first day of advocacy. After a late dinner we were all pretty tired and so went to our new beds as we have all moved around so everyone gets a fair deal.
Today was advocacy day #1 of 2, and we certainly had a busy one! We only had a small number of girls which was a little disappointing but we felt like they really got a lot out of the activities we did. The difference we saw in them from the morning to the afternoon was tangible and really made our day. The morning was mainly team and confidence building and voice projection – i.e. lots of shouting games – and resulted in us having a little less energy and voice in the afternoon! Because they were in such a small group we were able to have some really good discussions with them and get to know them more. It was also some of the quieter girls so hearing them being able to voice their ideas was great. The day culminated in them writing a letter to the Ministry of Forestry about deforestation and reasons to stop it – they did it all by themselves and it worked out really well when we wrote it up on big pieces of paper.
This evening we had a relax on the patio where we saw some amazing birds and also got some tasty home baked bread from our neighbour Mrs. P. which were so so tasty. She also gave us fruit from the tree to have for breakfast – how kind is that! After planning for tomorrow, we had tea and now are having some pineapple! Wish you were here?
Lots of GOLD love
Team Guyana 2012