Céline Taylor Smith

So far, I definitely consider my journey in Belize to be one of the more challenging experiences I have taken on in my life… but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It is impossible to accurately put into words the educational, practical and personal growth that occurred for me when I was in Belize, however, my time working in the field, in the office, making connections within the community, as well as travelling around the country has greatly impacted my aspirations for the future.

During my time in Belize I was stationed in Belmopan, working as a Human Rights Village Planning Intern at an organization called National Association of Village Councils Organization (NAVCO). I was working May through to August during the summer of 2016, which just so happened to fall during the time that village council elections were ongoing. NAVCO is an umbrella organization, intended to represent the interests of the District Association of Village Councils (DAVCO), which is sequentially representing the Village Councils, intended to be the voice of the villagers. NAVCO works to establish a bottom-up approach to development, ultimately to liaison with the government on pressing issues that are taking place within the village. As my internship was focused on identifying, reporting and addressing general human rights violations within the village, particularly the ones that are in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals, I spent a lot of my time in Belize meeting with a wide variety of people: leaders within the community, Village Councils, teachers, children, members who were severely poor or without communication, the list goes on. By doing this, I was working to collect information that represented the entirety of the population, from developed to entirely remote villages.