So, as most of my readers (if not all of them) will know by now, my time in Belize has come to an end. Finally.
I’ve finished the work that I came here to do for the BCVI (and plenty more besides). And now that the BCVI doesn’t have anything more for me to do, it’s the perfect time for me to leave – especially as the day-to-day running of the IT department is being handled by my colleague Mark.
When I arrived in 2010, the BCVI was using a hand-made combined financial and clinical system, created by a previous volunteer. Since then, I’ve helped to implement the BHIS (Belize Health Information System) – a patient record system which covers every public hospital and clinic in the entire country, and which allows the BCVI to keep track of all their patients’ clinical details (and run reports from that clinical information). This is an incredibly important system, as it allows health providers like the BCVI to follow all the country’s major health issues, and tailor their services accordingly (and indeed, as I leave, the BCVI now has a fundus camera in three of their clinics, to photograph patients’ eyes and keep track of glaucoma, a major eye problem in Belize).
I’ve also been responsible for implementing a separate financial system based on Intuit’s QuickBooks software – again, another important system, as keeping track of income and expenditure, and measuring the profitability of products and services is an essential part of any organisation.
I’ve worked closely with the rehab team and their blind and visually-impaired clients, particularly during the Camps, and particularly in the context of IT and computer classes. This has been the most interesting and fulfilling part of my work (and the most surprising, as I never expected to be doing this when I arrived), and it’s allowed me to get to know several inspiring young people, including Rowan Garel, who’s raised funds for the BCVI by doing everything from hiking up Belize’s tallest mountain to walking across the country to diving into the Blue Hole.
And last but not least, I’ve helped to make the organisation’s IT infrastructure more consistent and up-to-date – we’ve got rid of all the Windows XP machines and moved on to Windows 7 and 8, we have a range of new laptops and desktops, plus remote monitoring software and daily data backups. And we have a set of manuals, instructions, and procedures – which are continually being added to by other volunteers.
To say that it’s been an interesting and educational three-and-a-half years would be a massive understatement. It’s been a pleasure to work for the BCVI and to get to know all the dedicated, hard-working people there. And the pleasure has continued outside of work, as Belize is full of lovely, friendly people who live all over this beautiful country. From climbing, hiking, and zip-lining over it, to swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving under it, there are very few countries that pack so much into such a small area, and it’s been great fun to explore it with some of my fellow volunteers.
So bye bye Belize, and hola Guatemala and Central America…