Did you know that Belize is home to one of the biggest barrier reefs in the world?
Neighbours learnt this and much more when volunteer Kristen – who hails from Belize - treated them to an afternoon dedicated to her home country. From trying traditional delicacies, which Kristen had baked herself, to learning about different cultural groups, everyone felt a long way from London and could imagine being in tropical Central America!
Kristen has been a volunteer at North London Cares’ Social Clubs for three years and is a very familiar face at the Wednesday afternoon club in Kentish Town. Over the years, it’s here that she has formed lots of friendships, which mean a great deal to her – especially when she is so far away from home.
“A lot of people might think that volunteering with North London Cares is all about the older neighbours and relieving their loneliness, but they have done the exact same for me, especially during my first year when I had just moved to London.
North London Cares and the gang at Kentish Town Community Centre have made me feel so much more comfortable and welcomed in London. Every Wednesday reminds me of Sundays back at home when we'd travel to go visit my grandmother and spend the time together as a family”.
She added that, although she gets nervous speaking in public, she wanted to give the talk to share her love for her home country with everyone.
“There's so much that I love about Belize, but one that tops the list is our people; Belize is culturally diverse, and this is outstanding especially for such a small country.
Everybody knows everybody, there is no racism or hatred. We're all friendly, humble and appreciative of one another. If we pass each other on the street, even if we don’t know each other, we'll give a greeting and smile.
And of course - I love our blues and greens. Belize has the best of both worlds, the many blue shades of the Caribbean Sea, but also, the many shades of green from our rainforests and jungles.”
After Kristen’s talk, lots of the neighbours showed their interest in Belize asking lots of questions and getting really stuck into the game of Chalupa – which is like Bingo in Spanish.
Kristen said that it was brilliant to have people be so engaged in the talk.
“Many said they learnt so much and could tell how proud I am of Belize. The neighbours who were also from the Caribbean said they were so happy when they saw that someone from their region would be giving a presentation, and they enjoyed it and could relate in so many ways. They especially appreciated the snacks I brought that were similar to what they had at home and missed”.
Do you have a skill or place that you are keen to share with the neighbours like Kristen did?
If so, please do get in touch by emailing Kirsty on [email protected] as we’d love to hear from you.
Kristen’s advice to those who are considering it: “Definitely do it! It doesn't matter what the topic is, but just do it! You'll feel fulfilled and content with yourself for having shared your story with your neighbours, who will appreciate it. You will fill the afternoon with joy, company and new knowledge that they'll thank you for!”
Posted by Kirsty Shanks on Wednesday 8th May 2019
Kirsty is a Programme Coordinator (Social Clubs) at North London Cares