Saturday, November 15, 2014

My "Old" Friend, Dennis LeBlanc, Reflects on his 2nd Trip

Preface to a Prelude ?!??!

Since Jo’c wouldn’t unlock “the ball and chain” he had me in during my stay in Georgetown until I promised on a case of Banks Beer to write something for the Blog (and I knew that I’d have a tough time getting through security at the airport in chains), I “happily” agreed to put something together about my three week experience (October 18 to November 8) in Georgetown this year.

So I am dutifully writing now from my home in Greenfield, MA, a few days after my “21 hour ‘door to door’ “ excursion from Mercy Hospital to Franklin Street (via a taxi, four airports in 4 different countries, two bus rides, a subway, a two hour car ride and a whole lot of walking!).

Added to that, I left Guyana in shorts and sandals, only to arrive with everyone in Boston wearing winter coats, gloves and hats. . . with about a 60 degree difference between my early morning departure and my midnight arrival. So forgive me if I’m still not acclimated to the multitude of changes (weather, culture, values, etc.) in these few days that have passed since leaving a Third World country and returning to my plush and entitled surroundings (comparatively at least).

This is my second year going to Guyana, and I realized early on that I was having a “Good News / Bad News” set of feelings about my return. The “Good News” was that this year I knew what I was getting into and what to expect. The “Bad News” was that this year I knew what I was getting into and what to expect! That two-edged sword worked for me and against me, in this year’s experience, but I ended up trying to put aside all expectations, remembrances, and fears, and just accept this year’s challenge and opportunity on its own terms.

While in Guyana, I would write some reflections on my experiences and feelings in a journaling fashion. What now follows are some portions of those writings.

 MUSINGS OF A TIRED MIND:  Prelude  - October   2014          

Well the cool, colorful days of Autumn in New England once again this year find me in the tropical heat and humidity of Guyana, South America, just a few degrees north of the equator. Usually "up there" in Massachusetts, my system is being invigorated by crisp air; preparations are well underway for a swift change into the snow and frigid cold of winter; the wood is cut and stacked, and the evening fire in the fireplace sets the house aglow (figuratively speaking!).
Trying to beat the heat with my new friend, Sylvia, and old, Jo'c.
And see: I am the only one with a beer.
But here in Guyana, Autumn is just like Winter, which is just like Spring, which is just like . . . get the point. It is always the same -- and that "same" is HOT, 90+ degrees hot, with comparable humidity!! And anyone who knows me, knows at least two things early on ... I'm from Oregon, and I don't DO heat! I get cranky, miserable, and TIRED! 

So since heat is the perpetual state of affairs down here, you can imagine I'm a real joy to be around! Writing helps me keep me hovering at least on the fringes of sanity, so I will be doing that while here. It is both for therapeutic for me, but it also gives me a chance to share with others for whom I care, a part of this profound experience in this wonderful and challenging country of Guyana.
Nursing students at work.
More Bubble Therapy -PRN only

  Vignette for the day   "THE SECOND TIME "

 Coming for the first time last year, the novelty and newness was somewhat overwhelming--and so was the heat! From the climate and culture, to the values and customs; from the "monopoly money" system to the petrifying transportation options, I felt bombarded with a paradigm shift in living that was both exhilarating and exhausting. 

And I found my approach to getting through the three weeks here, kind of like the way I approach jogging or running---I focus on every painful step; the harder I work, the more resentful I feel about what I'm doing; the longer I go, the more I become obsessed with the "finish line " and count the time till it's over. "Enjoyment" is a sadistic concept that someone must have made up. Hey, I'm a "ball & stick" guy in sports...running is means to an end so I do it. Running by itself? Used to have a tee shirt that said it all: "I hate to run!" 
St Ann's Girls - All tired out -or maybe not.
This second time around, I can feel a visceral shift inside. It feels like I'm riding my bike on one of those 25 mile rides through the countryside of Western Mass. It is no less tiring and challenging than running, but my attention and attitude are totally different. When I ride, I ride with a focus and determination that both challenges my body, but also calms my mind. I enjoy the terrain and landscape, as well as my capacity to still be doing what I'm doing. At the end, when I come to the long, steep hill of Bank Row within a half mile of home, and the thought inevitably comes into my mind "you're legs won't take you up" ... my mantra supercedes that message with "yes, someday I will not be able to make it up --- but TODAY is NOT the day!"

My "ride" this second time around, has enabled me to focus differently. Even with the heat -- which the locals say is the hottest ever -- my approach has been not to fight a reality so much bigger than myself, and to surrender to its power with as little complaining as possible. Does it help me feel any cooler? Believe it or not, sometimes. 


Vignette for the day     "FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND"

I have walked the shores of many a beach over my almost seven decades now: from the Oregon sands to the East coast waters; along the Mediterranean in Israel and Egypt; and on the banks of a multitude of rivers, steams and lakes. And amidst all those sojourns and the many footprints I've made in the sands, not one remains.   In fact, not one lasted more than a brief moment in time. Impermanence is the nature of all things.

At times I have been presented with the argument that I should not be going so far away ---spending a lot of money, to a foreign land and culture...when there are so many problems, so many people in need right close to home. “You can (should) 'do good' in your own backyard", people have said.

But sometimes journeys are not that logical and pragmatic. And so has been the case for me coming to Guyana. It is more about a quest, a journey that is not about miles and geography.  It is about leaving the "land" of the familiar, the comfortable, and known, to risk exploring the unknown, the uncharted ways, the internal land of darkness.
At my age I just ...
Stretch String; the rest creaks.
Coming here is about "stretching" this Self of mine, to explore the inner terrain of my soul ... which can become soft and lazy when not pushed and prodded. The physical challenges of heat, filth, poverty, chaos that come with this stretching here, provide the context for the process of growing. I know that I have sat in the "comfortable pew" of life too long sometimes, and have needed a periodic jolt from the "normal " (which I've been seduced to believe is the only way to think, feel, believe, value, behave, live). 
I can forget that I live in a big, diverse, complex world, where not everyone looks, thinks, believes and behaves like me. Here, one walk down to the massive outdoor market is a vivid reminder of that. Amidst thousands of other shoppers, I am the only "white guy" to be seen ... and prancing around in shorts and a tee shirt, wearing sunglasses and a baseball hat! I now know differently how a person from India, China or Africa must feel as they stroll the streets of Greenfield in their native garb, needing to deal with the stares and comments of being "different".

Journeys serve many purposes. I know a part for me being here again is to acknowledge the little place that I occupy in this world and to keenly feel the impermanence of my good intentions, deeds -- and my life. To feel this even as I am being propelled by the words in Micah, "to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (6:8).

That said, I have had no "agenda" here really. I just know that being in Guyana again this year is as much about helping myself as it is about helping others. It is about making a few "footprints in the sand", then glancing back to see they already have disappeared.  And I am at peace with that.

In the quiet moments and in the dark places of my journey in another land, I have come to feel that the words of T.S. Eliot ring ever so true for me: "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know that place for the first time".

Vignette for the day     "THE UNIVERSALITY OF PLAY"

 “Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

    "It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Certain realities are not bound to a particular culture, geography, race, or age.       The one that was most evident in this year’s trip for me, was the persistent power and potential of play. Many a time I have been accused of “Not acting my age” and that phrase was usually intended as a “judgment” to prod me to follow Paul’s admonition in First Corinthians 13: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Never having listened much to Paul anyway, I now wear my “childlike ways”, and my ability and desire to play, as a badge of honor! 

So this year I came “armed” and ready for play . . . with toys! A 20 ft. in diameter colorful parachute, bubble blowing solution and wands, bean bags and plastic rings for a tossing challenge, beach balls,  playful reading books, jump ropes, Frisbees, multi-colored pipe cleaners, glow sticks, etc., -- a full suitcase!


I used these tools at St. John Bosco Orphanage for Boys, at St. Ann’s Orphanage for Girls and with the nurses and staff at Mercy Hospital. The energy, fun and laughter that ensued were palpable and satisfying. I hope some of the pictures here will give you a sense of the playful spirit that emerged in these different settings, and that the happy faces of the many different ages will be a reminder of the restorative power of play.

Play unlocks the imagination, de-stresses our system, and opens us up to the wonder and awe of life. It helps satisfy our hunger for humor and laughter, and restores a sense of balance for us. But play is not just fun (though if it were that would be surely be enough). Play is the great equalizer. It breaks down the barriers of age, gender, social status, economic difference, and religious preference (or bias). Play inspires, it opens us up to the magical in life. It uses the wide range of our senses (touch, sight, sound, smell, taste), and gets us in touch with the holistic being that we are.

There is a particular tendency of dismiss the impulse to play for adults, by labeling it as unproductive and to even try to evoke a sense of guilt for those who dare challenge that taboo. But especially in the world of work, we need to restore a sense of BALANCE in our lives  . . . which was especially evident with the 2nd year nursing students who are particularly stressed by the major exam facing them on November 25th. It is not accidental that they “got into” the bubble blowing and parachute play with a hardy gusto that I believe reminded them that there is more to life than the serious, solemn and somber. The cognitive world is not the only world.
Showing the students
"You just put your lips together and blow..." 
So I confess to all of you that I had a great time playing and having fun with all the different people who were willing to join me in “letting our hair down” (or at least as much of it that remains for some of us!).

In that spirit, I end this Vignette with the words of George Bernard Shaw:
                   “We don’t stop playing because we grow old;
                             we grow old because we stop playing.”

I am grateful to so many people who have supported me on this journey and adventure to Guyana, and taken interest in the work (and play!) that’s being done there. I dare not start naming names for they are many . . . but I also feel compelled to mention two, without whom I would not be sharing all this with you. 

First, I want to thank my wife, Maggie, for her sacrifice, encouragement, interest, and support, not only during the three weeks that I was away but also the preparation time preceding the trip and the “decompression” time that has followed. Even when it has been hard to understand why I choose to do some things in life, she has trusted that “I need to do what I need to do” in my growing and exploration as a person. I continue to value that greatly.

As Jo'c taught me - You can't be cool
without an umbrella in your beer.

And finally, words of appreciation to Jo’c. Almost 50 years of friendship have now encompassed our lives. The changes have been many in our personal and professional lives, as well in our looks and abilities to get around in these aging bodies of ours. But the “red thread” that runs through that half century for me, is one of gratitude and admiration for this friend that has seen me through many seasons of my life and has constantly challenge me to “think outside the box” and take risks to do the right thing.

Without both of these people, I would have had a great void in my life. Thanks for filling it with your friendship and love.

Blessings to all,
Dennis     (aka, Rev. 2)

Thanks for coming down and being you. Jo'c [Rev. 1]
and saying all those nice words about me, but it didn't seem quite long enough! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Few Goodbyes ... But Not Mine Yet.

Class Visit to the National Psychiatric Hospital

Sometimes (I was going to say "almost always", but I am a teacher and would feel too threatened)
the best teachers are not the ones called teachers.   This is true on the visit to the people who are patients at the hospital.
  Psychiatrist Sujay Patel and Family Doc/professional entertainer Upe Mehan met us at the hospital and provided a rich commentary and insight about who these people are and their behaviours.  Again your best teacher about the experience may not be the professional teacher - rather, a learner:
The Class and Nurse Trin.  she has worked at the NPH for 20 years
and still continues to learn something from her patients

Visit to the Psych Hospital (Berbice - 2014) by Natalie Persaud- Singh

 The tour was indeed interesting. I was shocked, for this is my first experience with mental patients. I see this facility as somewhere that gives patients a chance to better themselves with the help of the health team available there. However I think the hospital need renovation, proper facility to house these patients and more nurses onboard. As it’s said, for a patient to get better they must feel comfortable in their environment. This is just a suggestion from what I've seen. The surrounding needs cleaning. The odor of the hospital was obnoxious. 

Something needs to be done about this.

This is not the present  hospital; it is the old Berbice Asylum.
I just like my photograph .....
and it reminds me of Thoreau's 'vivacious lilacs'.

I've had the chance to speak with some of the patients and I must say I was heartbroken by some of their stories. Some of their family took them there and didn't even look back to them. They are human beings, no matter what sickness they have physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.  Everyone needs love. Someone to talk to, someone to be there just to listen, all of which can brighten their day.

I feel the need for there to be more educational programs readily available to them. One patient told me she wants a book to read (story book) or a book to write. Writing helps one to express their emotions. So if they don’t feel comfortable discussing their problems with a nurse they can at least write about how they feel.  If more emphasis can be place in bettering the facility I see this hospital as successful, not that they are not but they would be able to offer much more to these patients.

Rev, I hope this is good enough!!   Thanks for having us share this experience with you!!

Yup, more than good enough... She and other students had some brilliant reflections...  I was impressed and mad at the same time, because I have had to read some of their other research and exams! Oh well, as Martin Luther said, "Simultaneous Smart and Stoopid"..... or something close.   The Canadian Mental Health Team had a major focus: "To reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.." and after the visit to the Berbice Mad House my students know ..... People are People, including doctors. [See karaoke pictures.]

Another Focus: ECT

If you read last week's blog [and who hasn't, eh?], you heard the horror story of the ECT Team... Well, I am happy to report that despite several more minor heebie-jeebies, like finding the machine packed up and ready to ship back to Canada with the Team .....  they were able to train more than enough Guyanese professionals, and under the leadership of Dr. Maida, Psychiatrist at the National Psychiatric, Guyana will have re-activated a forgotten service.   I am sure when Peter Kuhnert writes his guest blog [hint]  he will tell you all about it.  I want to just show you a picture of one man who had a ECT treatment earlier that same day.  When I asked him how he was feeling, he said he was "Never better...  I might even be happy."

All Work and no Play Makes...

If you can believe it, the Team said they were too tired to go out to dinner, just wanted to have a quiet beer and something to eat at the Sleep-Inn.  So Sylvia and I went over to join them.  Dennis had to prepare his class for the following day (talk about "no play"!).   However, once they got down to the bar and the karaoke started - a second wind, I guess.

The Highlight of the Night!  The guys were singing American Pie and I wasn't lip-synching.
It was supposed to be Macho Man, but got censored by the politically correct Guyanese.

We are the Champions...Yes, you are!

The "Women" trying their best
to imitate the guys.
And a Bollywood  melody
from the surprising Zahir.      

The "Originals" celebrate a successful Mission.

And then there was the Final Final dinner hosted by the Minister of Health.  It too was at the Sleep-Inn and earlier than  planned as the Team was out that night at 2AM... Lots of congratulatory words for all involved.

Minister Bheri Ramsaran expresses his gratitude
to the whole Canadian Mental Health Team 
Peter and Sujay express their thanks to
Chief Psychiatrist Bhiro Harry.

The Parting Shot

Dennis is Off and Home Safely

And speaking of 2 am, Dennis, my university friend, left on Friday night for his home in Greenfield, Massachusetts via Trinidad, Toronto and Boston!   Just a mere 21 hours door to door...  He too is going to write a guest blog (Subtle Reminder) so I won't steal his words, but he did say that he has never met a more knowledgeable, competent, humble, etc., person than me.  Thanks Dennis.   

It is strange and wonderful for me to have someone other than family who has known me for 50 years ..... and to find, as the saying goes, "You get together with a friend after years of absence and you continue chatting as if you saw each other yesterday.
Elsie presented Dennis with one of her famous
African shirts to wear when he gets chased
out of Greenfield for wearing it.
Dennis is here explaining Sex and Relationships
to the students. If you can't see the immediate
connection, read his blog, coming "Just now."

 Enough - More or Less

 I had my last Boys, Bodies, Beliefs and Boundaries Class at St. Ann's.  They were sad it was over and even sadder when I gave them an evaluation sheet -- which they told me they wanted to fill in during the week and not in class as I had planned ..... So much for the evaluation. However, the judging of the 2nd Annual Father John's Photography Contest is this Thursday AND if I don't get their evaluations before the contest, they cannot win a prize!  Oh, the benefits of a bribe!  I have learned some things in Guyana.  Not fair!! they screamed ..... and they were right ..... and it is my contest, eh?

I have arranged for the four Mercy Volunteers to come and judge the pictures in the five categories: Girls Playing, Girls Working or Studying, Action Shots, Happy Face and Unusual or Abstract.   I had way over 2,000 pictures that the girls had taken since September... I want to get it down to 10 finalists in each category, but had to settle for 15!   There will be five Ipod Shuffle MP3 Players, one for each of the category winners.   They were donated by the Sunday School kids at Church at Stony Hill, Medina, Ohio...
John being presented with the Shuffles

Pastor Shannon making an important homiletic intervention

There will be a surprise of two Grand Prizes ..... One of them will be a special one donated by Jerry Bacchus of Jerries' All Nite Restaurant.

Well, I have finished a whole pot of coffee and a big roll of cookies for breakfast as the cafeteria is closed on Sundays.  I can't wait to get home and have my healthier breakfasts of a whole frozen Pizza or a Hungry Man Dinner.... or my Sunday Morning Special Onion and Cheese Omelette at Bucky's of Ayr with the old guys.

So make sure if you are in Georgetown, Guyana, or Ayr, Ontario --- visit our sponsors ..... and maybe I'll get a free meal!

Thanks for reading... John

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Canadians from Suddie to New Amsterdam

The Canadian Mental Health Team Returns 

Yes, and more of them!  This year there are 17 professionals who have joined Peter, Sujay and Ram [Brenna stayed home as she is in late pregnancy] who were here last year on an exploratory trip. If you wish to look back, see  Peter Puts Pen to Keyboard, November 1, 2013.

Actually, we got an early warning that they were coming when one of the team members called their hotel here on Saturday night to confirm her reservation, only to discover that only about half of the team was booked.   Many of the hotels have web sites here and have on line reservation forms; however, whether they are ever looked at is a different question.  A little experience of  "Welcome to Guyana" .....   They had visions of arriving  at 2:00 AM from the airport with no room to sleep in -- wandering the streets of Georgetown.  And my "ever-helpful roommate" Sylvia was walking around our flat deciding how many mattresses we could accommodate here!   She finally figured that she could get them all in here, but Dennis and I had to sleep on the boxes in Materials Management next door.    

Well, Peter was able to book another hotel before Leiota from the Ministry of Health got even more rooms. They were met at the airport and brought safely to their rooms ..... at the two hotels.   And that was not the only expectation that was not met ..... The lectures were postponed.  The meeting with the Minister of Health was cancelled in order for him to address the Ebola situation here, and make the usual political speech about how well prepared Guyana is.   The Minister of Culture had been called out of the country, so the press conference was much smaller than expected and all the cameras were involved with the Ebola announcement..  

I had made a solemn vow before any god I could remember that I was going to stay at a distance and just observe from the sidelines as I already thought I couldn't finish what I already had on my plate; and besides, Peter, Sujay and Ram were veterans!  It didn't last, and my neurotic-messianic disorder came to the front when I realized that they would be doing nothing for most of their first afternoon in Guyana.  So I volunteered to do a small tour of Georgetown -- St George's Cathedral, the tourist trap crafts lane, National Museum and the Seawall.  Well, by the time they had decided to go and we had a bus ..... The Cathedral and Museum were closed, and I don't think anyone bought anything at the craft shops.  So we walked over to the Market area near Stabroek and wandered through the crowded and dark stalls.  (I think they became aware that they were really a minority.)   Then, we took off for the ocean and the "beach" at the Seawall near the Bandstand.  And, thank God, the ocean was still open! 
The women excited to see  Guyana's Beautiful Beach...

The Team had planned an opening meal and Dennis, Sylvia and I got invited to join them.  It was a great meal and good fellowship and a way to put some of the start-up problems behind them -- perhaps.

What is more Guyanese than Indian Food?

The End of Day One

Tuesday morning saw Team 1 and Team 2 get on their way to New Amsterdam and begin their work at the National Psychiatric Hospital re-introducing an Electroconvulsive Therapy Clinic.  However --  and this is a screw-up even beyond the usual Guyanese screw-ups ..… No machine, no electricity in the room, no AC for the delicate equipment, no security (read: door lock), no anaesthetists, no patients with depression, no knowledge claimed by the CEO nor Dr. Maida, the psychiatrist, of their arrival, no recovery areas, a visiting surgical team scheduled at the same time which seconded all the NA anaesthetists, the hotel gave their rooms away -- ETC.  Yes, it's all true!    

This project had been in the works for months, and the machine and supplies had been shipped and arrived in the country.    I might call Sujay thorough!  He and his team had developed teaching materials, manuals and guidelines for ECT administration, proper use of anaesthetic, nursing care pre- and post-therapy, how to use talk therapy as a co-joint intervention, patient and family education materials .....  His team put in hours and hours of preparation.   The ECT programme is what the government and Dr. Harry had asked the team for last year. 

I am glad that I wasn't in New Amsterdam when they arrived ...  But to my amazement and to the huge credit of my colleagues, no one turned homicidal and they went about planning how to be effective with almost every expectation unmet.  Canada should be proud of the professionals who come to foreign lands and represent the best of the Canadian Spirit -- though I do not think they went as far as making a Canadian apology for the inconvenience they caused!

In the end -- or really just a few days later -- the ECT machine was found and a place was secured for it at the General Hospital in New Amsterdam and Sujay and his team began training health professionals.   The Ministry of Heath worked very hard to correct any earlier problems.   It did add weight to my adage:  you need to be here face-to-face to achieve what you want to get done.  It is just how it is  -- and why the country finds it difficult to move from a developing country to one which is more developed.

Next:  Peter's team got left behind.  Or no, not exactly.  On Tuesday, the members accompanied Dr. Harry to his outpatient clinic in Linden ..... They ended up being surprised by 40 or so nursing students and staff who were there for a half day workshop on Mental Illness and Suicide Prevention...  And before any of them could find a  suitable weapon, Dr. Harry had left.    And again the amazing resilience of these Canadian professionals, including Sylvia, meant that they took a few minutes, regrouped and presented a well-received workshop.   When Dr. Harry reappeared, he tried to "kiss and make up" with a large lunch!  

On their way back to Georgetown by bus, the team saw a pickup truck roll over -- and just like in the movies, Dr. Upe, who had all his medical supplies with him, and Nurse Naderia, jumped out of their bus and started to attend to the two people in the truck.  This had to be the world's record for the quickest accident response time in Guyanese [and maybe Canadian] history!  

Back at the School of Nursing, Dennis led both of Tuesday's classes by explaining the students' Myers-Briggs  Personality Profiles.  He gave the tests to them last week and had spent most of his time since then in scoring.   It was a great exercise in self-reflection and maybe the first time that they had looked at who they were in such depth.     

The girls were so advanced that
he upgraded his class from Relationships101 to 102


A Special Wuzzle for Dennis.
I had to save it for someone
to whom it applied.

He also had the class get in touch with their "Poet Within" in homage to
Robin Williams' Really Dead Poets Society.   
 Mercifully, The End of Only Day Two.

Day Three would see me return to my vow of just watching... However, I had only printed off Revision 37 of their suggested schedule and failed to notice Revision 49:  Team 3 presents to Mercy Nursing Students at 9:30 .....  Okay, I am Canadian:  if they can cope, so can I.  We cancelled Problem Based Learning for that day, had another teacher give me her class time, and arranged for the second year students to be there, for which another teacher gave up her time... And Upe, Naderia and Paige did an excellent job of presenting "De-stigmatizing Mental Illness".  The students had lots of great questions as just about everyone in Guyana has been touched by mental illness or a suicide.   At least, we would return to "normal" on Thursday .....

That evening the Ministry had rescheduled the CME talks for 6 pm at the auditorium of the National Public Library.   Would I go or not?  I was really tired ..... and the event was not publicized anywhere that I know of .... so Sylvia and I (Dennis was still at the Bosco Boys' Home) went, fearing that no one else would be in the audience ..... Upe talked about the "Elderly and Mental Illness" while Peter presented on "Psychotropic Drugs During Pregnancy".   Actually there were more than 30 doctors in attendance and all appreciated the presentations ..... and Sylvia and I managed to stay awake.

Mercifully, The End of Day Three

It's never "normal" in Guyana ..... The Wednesday's Team had such a great time at the Nursing School that the other half of Peter's Team was now coming on Thursday... And this was on no schedule .....  To shorten these tales:  Martina Power, Sinidu Shimells and Tammy Benwell met the same students and presented an overview of Mental Illness, highlighting Depression and also some Identification and Intervention with Suicidal Persons.    I hate to say this but the students may have enjoyed it more than PBL .....  The presentations were great and the students benefitted . 

There were two more lectures at the Library again on Thursday at 6:00... However, I was just finishing my St Ann's Girls "Bodies, Boys, Belief and Boundaries" course, scheduled to end at 5:30 but the girls kept me overtime till 5:45.  Martina had donated some t-shirts and since there were twenty of them I used them with the girls in my class.  [Some are in the pic.]  Thanks, Martina.  

I then faked an injury and went to my Everest Cricket Club, where there is no cricket ..... and took Dennis down the path of fun and self-destruction.   And then our "Dynamic Catholic" Course leader joined us incognito.   Even better than two more lectures!

Gratefully, The End of Day Four

Friday saw the local team head out to Suddie for an outpatient psychiatry clinic.   The best part is the speedboat ride across the Essequibo... especially in the afternoon when the winds are almost always stronger and the passengers always wet.   From what I hear it was a great clinic with lots of patients seen ...and no bad surprises. 

Today is a Day Off  
The Teams trade places and the NA team comes here and the GT team goes there till Monday.   One of the team members, Ram Kalap, is Guyanese and has a large family outside New Amsterdam who are hosting the whole team to a traditional family feast.   The unholy trinity here is not going as we are headed out on Monday to the National Psychiatric Hospital with the nursing students ..... and two+  hours one-way in a minibus is about all the fun I can manage.

The Team will be here till the early hour of 2 am Wednesday Morning when their adventure will be over ..... Dennis has another week, till Saturday.  And Sylvia is deserting me to go one a retreat to Barbados - white sand and blue water ..... for a week, while I am still here getting my points in the Kin-dom for dedication.   Just three more weeks till I and Sylvia finish for 2014.

This Week's Star at Mercy

This is not because there are no more stars.  I just didn't get around to interviewing anyone...  Next week, maybe I'll have to have two?

Father John's 2nd Annual Photo Contest

This Week's Slide Show contains some of the thousands of pictures that the St Ann' Girls have taken for Father John's 2nd Annual Photo Contest.   I will put up only those that made the first cut for the category "Happy Face".  If you have a favourite, tell me and I'll make sure not to cut it when I reduce to just ten finalists.

Thanks for reading this far.
John [Rev]
The Team has a page on FB at: Transforming Guyana’s Mental Health System: A Canadian Initiative