Isa's Belizean Adventure
Isabel Carrió, our Field Project Manager in Central America and a talented visual artist, first started with us as a field artist in 2011. Originally from Argentina, Isa has lived and worked in Central America for seven years training and supporting gender and environment leaders in the region. Over the past three months Isa has focused on supporting several of our environmental partners with skill-building clinics paired with creative advocacy projects. She's traveled to Sarteneja, a coastal community in northern Belize; Tola, a beach community in western Nicaragua; Ometepe, an isolated island in Lake Cochibolca in Nicaragua; and now she's off to Huehuetenango and Totonicapán, both in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.
The environmental leaders that Isa works with juggle a variety of complex environmental challenges combined with a range of stakeholders. Each new location she travels to has its unique complexities, which is one of the aspects that Isa loves about her job. She's also inspired by how passionate the leaders are about creating a more sustainable world. After her time in Sarteneja, Isa shared, "Participants arrived early and left late, showing incredible commitment and motivation to do the work. Their collaboration was remarkable."
Sarteneja in northern Belize isn’t easy to get to, even for Isabel, who lives in Belize. It involves a half-day journey via bus and boat. But once you arrive at this coastal town, you’re greeted by beautiful beaches and blue-green water that are the source of livelihoods for most people in the community, where fishing, boat-building, and tourism are central to the economy.
Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD), who we have previously worked with, recently invited Creative Action Institute for even deeper training and on-site support for implementing creative advocacy. 15 youth leaders and staff from SACD as well as Blue Ventures and Wildtracks, two other conservation organizations in the area, came together for two training sessions. The first focused on building leadership and facilitation skills. The second focused on applying arts to raise awareness, open dialogue and transform how the community addresses trash, illegal fishing, and the high death rates of manatees. Splitting into three teams, they used miming, a giant storybook, and theater to present the challenges to the community and begin a dialogue.
Leomir Santoya, the Natural Resource Program Manager at SACD, reflected, “There was no barrier between the groups; everyone in the room placed a little bit of their own artistic spice in the story book and dramas. A team atmosphere surrounded the process. On Saturday, the groups were ready to present their plays and the storybook. Suspense was felt as the clock marked 10:00 am, the starting time for them to present their work. In no time the room was filled with more than 100 kids of different ages, eager to see the presentations prepared for them. It was the time for the participants to open their toolbox and take out their new skills that they had learn. The interaction that was achieved between the kids and the young facilitators showed that the participants have master the facilitation skills to a great extent.”