Global work initiatives
Being born and raised in a mixed-race family within Canada, is a heart-expanding, heart-wrenching, and illuminating experience. I feel eternally grateful for my Guyanese-British heritage, to have been born into both brown skin and white skin.
When I was younger, with the last name, "Beharry", I remember lying on the floor, telling my mum, that I wished I had a different last name. One that people didn't make fun of. Today, I wouldn't change my last name, for the world. It is my connection to my Guyanese roots. My dear, beloved, Guyanese roots.
I've had many moments in my life, of feeling like I'm living in this, "in-between". In Canada, when you are birthed in to a mixed-race family, you are no longer, "white". This is a fact that feels hard when you're in a privileged, almost-all-white-highschool. And, it's a fact, that today, I feel eternally grateful for. I love my olive-like skin, and yet, have had many moments of feeling like my skin isn't brown enough.
The experience of making sense of the stark differences between the privileges imparted upon white skin vs brown skin, is life-long lesson in patience, understanding, despair, hope, and motivation.
These days, my thoughts are focused less on the shade of my skin, and more on the inter-weaving of my cultures. Of honouring difference, and people like me, who feel they walk a thin line between belonging, and viewing their "home" country from a bird's eye view - always wondering where they fit.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a deep longing inside, to connect to my West-Indian/Caribbean roots. I am extremely lucky, that from young, my parents dedicated themselves to bringing us to the Caribbean, for the opportunity to immerse ourselves in our Caribbean culture.
I began my "work" in the Caribbean, in Guyana, in 2003. In the past 15 years, I've spent thousands of hours in Barbados, Saint Lucia, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana, teaching sexual health education to Caribbean youth, running yoga and meditation workshops, and facilitating empowerment groups for women and girls. This is truly my life's most important work.
An overview of my experiences are below. Please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about collaborations, workshops, speaking events, or teaching in the Caribbean.
Much Love, Carla.
Yoga + Meditation
In Partnership with Jasmine Evelyn's Mindful Movement Yoga Studio + The Barbados Association of Endometriosis & PCOS. Christ Church, Barbados.
If you were to ask me about my favourite place in the world, my immediate response would be, "Barbados!". The small, Caribbean island of Barbados is near & dear to my heart. My family started visiting Barbados, 25 years ago, and it feels like "home".
In June, 2018, I had the opportunity to teach a class at Jasmine's Mindful Movement studio, to raise money for the Barbados Association of Endometriosis & PCOS.
2018 marks my first opportunity to connect with women in Barbados who are leading the mindfulness and yoga movement, in the Caribbean. A true honour.
Trinidad & Tobago. 2018
Yoga + Meditation
Pranayama for anxiety + Depression
In Partnership with Aleisha Holder + The Gentle Yogi Studio. Valsayn, Trinidad & Tobago.
I met Aleisha Holder by some divine intervention. Well, she's close friends with my cousin - but - our meeting led to an immediate connection, and an immediate plan to collaborate on our love for promoting yoga and meditation in the Caribbean.
I spent 5 weeks in 2018, teaching yoga, meditation, and private workshops at the Gentle Yogi studio.
Aleisha is a lawyer-turned-yogi, and consciously left her law career, after learning about the power of yoga and meditation to balance the burn-out of a challenging career.
Stepping into the Gentle Yogi studio is a truly heart-expanding experience. Never have I had the opportunity to practice with women, honouring such diversity. Trinidad & Tobago are a beautiful blend of people and cultures. African roots and Indian roots come together to create places and people honouring Christian, Hindu & Muslim faiths, and moving together in shared spaces.
My workshop focus in TT was on using breath work, journalling, and movement to control feelings of despair, anxiety, and depression.
Working with social workers, psychologists, therapists, and counsellors is still often stigmatized in the Caribbean, and associated with weakness and failure.
Aleisha and her sister, Ayanna, are literally breaking new ground by opening spaces for citizens to connect with a like-minded community.
Belize. 2012 - 2016
Girls empowerment groups
Female leadership Community
In Partnership with Ocean Academy High School + Ms. Suzanne Micheleus, Founder of the Female Leadership Community (FLC).
My true heart's passion lies in empowerment work with young girls and women. It is THE place where I feel like I can impact girls in a way that has potential to initiate mindset shifts.
My life path has been supported by strong, bold & powerful women. If not for the support of women like my mother and grandmothers, my female mentors, and my courageous female friends, I'm not sure where I would be, right now.
Women supporting women is imperative to growth, confidence, and safety. I truly believe that for women and girls to make safe choices about their bodies and their relationships, they have to be taught that they CAN and are ALLOWED to make choices that honour their bodies and their hearts. All too often, women are still extending themselves beyond their boundaries, because, we live in a society that continues to teach women, from young, that in order to be "liked" or "loved", they have to give up pieces of themselves - emotionally, spiritually, sexually, and socially.
It is always my mandate to support girls in knowing that they have the right, always, to make choices that feel safe and empowering for themselves.
Suzanne Micheleus is a New York Native, living in Belize. She founded the Female Leadership Community (FLC), as a way for female youth in Caye Caulker, Belize to come together to talk about their feelings, to ask questions about how to navigate relationships, and to connect with other females to learn about healthy sexuality and relationships.
Belize. 2012 - 2016
HIV & Sexual Health Education
In Partnership with Ocean Academy High School + Ms. Marilyn Alarcon. Caye Caulker, Belize.
One piece of brilliance about the CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) is that "Life Skills" have been offered a place in the high school curriculum, along with mathematics and science. Brilliant.
On my first trip to Caye Caulker in 2011, I started to learn about the dynamics of this tiny island. (Paradise, as many tourists deem it). And, when I say tiny, I mean, literally no roads - only sandy lanes, for walking, biking, and golf carts. No cars. No traffic lights. And, herein lies the problem for socialization and exploration for youth -- everyone knows everyone. It is taboo to openly promote safe sexual practices, because with the underlying Catholic roots, early sexual experiences are not openly talked about. Safe sexual practices, such as "how to use a condom correctly" or "how to communicate and set boundaries in early relationships" are not openly taught. The only place to buy a condom is from the man at the corner store - who, of course, knows everyone's siblings and parents.
And, while I LOVE this little sandy island, I started to see a troubling occurrence - young girls, as early as 14 years old, dropping out of school, because they were getting pregnant. Once girls were pregnant, they weren't allowed to continue in school, and were losing out on the education that they so desperately needed to empower their lives.
And, then, I met Ms. Marilyn Alarcon. A local Belizean, running the Life Skills class; the shining light, and trusted listening ear for the majority of these children.
Just as a side note - The Ocean Academy High School was started by Heidi and Joni Mitchell - An American & A Canadian, who are permanent residents in Caye Caulker. The school employs all Belizean citizens.
And, so we began - integrating resources from Canada, with the internal knowledge that Ms. Marilyn brought from Belize.
We talked everything from correct condom use, how to protect yourself from STI's, how to say "no" in sexual experiences, how to communicate and talk about "love", and how to stay connected to your own boundaries with confidence.
girls in the world: girls empowerment
I founded, "Girls in the World" in 2015, after talking to many mothers, who all shared the same sentiment - "I wish I had mentors for love and sexuality when I was growing up".
My girls ranged in age from 10-16 years old, and once again, left me in awe, with their fearless wisdom.
We practiced yoga and meditation together.
We talked about how to identify your feelings of happiness, sadness, worry, loneliness, joy, hurt, pain, and fear.
We talked about how to live with self-assuredness, amidst the pressures of Instagram and Snapchat.
We talked about how to raise up other girls and women, rather than compete.
I learned that girls and women, all over the world are the same. We are often given very different sets of privileges, skin colours, and circumstances - and, this in itself often defines what we have access to learning and experiencing. But, many young girls experience the same feelings of worry when it comes to defining a healthy body image, and knowing how to love ourselves.
HIV & Sexual Health Education
Women's Domestic Violence Workshops
In Partnership with Youth Challenge International (YCI) + Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG)
By far, one of the most life-changing few months of my life, took place in my country of my roots, Guyana.
Living and working alongside 10 other YCI delegates, I was immersed in life, for nine weeks, in a remote Amerindian village, Surama, in the heart of the Guyanese rainforest.
Surama is a village, existing, still, without running water or electricity. It is inhabited by the Makushi Amerindian tribe, and filled with the warmest, and most innovative families, who work in Agriculture and eco-tourism.
My role in Surama was to facilitate HIV and sexual health education to women and youth in Surama, and to guide women's circles to create discussion about domestic violence and positive communication within relationships.
As in any teaching relationship, I, to this day, believe the wisdom I gained from the women and children in Surama, far exceeds the valuable life skills I was able to share.
I hold my days in Surama, close to my heart, and they remain my foundational learning experiences for initiating working relationships across global boundaries.