Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Sweet Sixteen! Sort of and Mi quince dulce here

Ok so these are photos from a quince that I went to recently in my community. The theme is pink! can you tell!

These are pictures of my backyard and home garden. As you can see, it is going very well! I wanted to share this with you all back home, because it will not be here for long. Turns out I do have a bit of a green thumb or just fertile land!

So I have 2 mango trees, 2 papaya trees, 1 lime tree, corn, squash, zuchinni, green bell pepper, chiles, and tomatoes!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My new boyfriend!

This is my dog here. I rescued him from just one of the average Salvo abusers of dogs. I wish I could save every dog, but alas its just me and Ta-lo (tay-low). I did not give him the name but he responds well. We keep each other company.

My work here!

I miss home, so whoever reads this I need some updates from home! I think as long as I get updates, I resist the urge to come home!

So I am sure a lot of you all are wondering, what the heck is she doing down there in El Salvador? Not looking at direct flights to Dallas, that’s for sure! Ok maybe sometimes, but that is mostly to help those people who want to visit me. If you aren’t one of those people, maybe you should think twice about that! So in all seriousness, I will give you all an idea of what I will be doing for the next year, or at least the next like 6 months. It’s hard to constantly think about the 2 year time frame, so I break it up into increments. It also is very effective for goal setting and mostly not to drive me crazy.

So projects that I will be working and some I want to be working on
-The computer project. This project I have inherited from the previous volunteer, kind of. The local school in my community is recently the proud owner of four computers with an impressive operating system of Windows 95! But heck, they were bought for an extremely LOW used price from a computer donation company in the states. For future reference, never toss out that old computer, there is always a place for it in the developing world. And that’s word. I bet you can even get a tax write-off for it, for all you elephants out there! Just kidding the dems like that too. Ok so back to the computers. Of the technology generation, I was always around computers, so it seems as second nature to operate one and use one efficiently. But than for those of you, like my grandma (love you) and people in the developing world; unless you were one of the few that was able to go to school, you probably have never seen a computer, let alone knows how to use one. True story. So being able to operate a computer, opens a lot of doors. Like typing, creating a flier and or invitation, surfing the internet, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

-I already mentioned the girls' soccer team, but that is a work in progress.
-I already mentioned the Latrine project, but that's a work in progress as well.

-I have started a home garden, which has proven to be quite successful. Who knew I had a green thumb!? I am growing corn, zucchini, cucumber, green bell pepper and tomatoes. It is the rainy season right now here in El Salvador, where it rains every day, so its ideal for planting and growing vegetables. Along with the vegetables, I have two mango trees, two papaya trees, a lime tree, and a chile bush. This is all in my backyard at the moment. The hope for this project will be to re-create my garden in other communal parts of the community. This is a project that will touch on nutrition and proper diet. Because the diet here is BAD! full of grease and salt, with little nutrition to boot. A lot of people dont even realize there are other ways to cook, other than in a pot of oil. I also hope to start cooking classes. Simple ingredients and simple techniques that hopefully will catch on! Like they can't even cook an egg, without it being in an oil soup! And maybe this cooking class turns into a womens' group, and then we get into some health topics. Little successes!

an unfortunate event

Recently, there was an incident in my community that struck a cord with me. A 40 year old man decided to go fishing with some of his nephews in a river that runs through my community. Mom calls it my village, but it’s like a small (500) people. Being an epileptic, the man had a seizure while fishing in the river, and consequently fell in. Being as no one he was fishing with knows how to swim, no one jumped in to save him. By the time, help was called ( and when I say help I do not mean 911 or local police) the man had been swept by the current in the river down towards the nearby lake. This happened about four in the afternoon on a Monday. Neighbors, friends and family (mostly the male populous) soon after started a rescue party beginning to search down the river. However, there was one tiny BIG problem hindering the search rescue. The river is filthy dirty. When I say dirty, I mean human and animal feces, you name it trash residue, and whatever falls in. The people who did know how to swim did not want to jump in to look around, go figure. Every time I think there is positive progress here, I am reminded by the fact that this is a developing country, with significant problems in action-solving here. When the police were finally called, there was little they could do, considering they did not want to jump in either. Everyone is upset that no one will jump in to search the waters, when really they should be upset that the water is an issue in the first place. Sidenote, people also take water from the river, to drink as well. I know. Can’t even begin to think about it. Long story short, man was discovered in the lake 72 hours later. And its usually custom here to have a vela, kind of like a wake, except the whole community shows up for free food and coffee. But there was no vela, only burial service because the time they found the body, there wasn’t much of a person left. The whole incident was upsetting because of the duration of the search and the issue with the water. These are the people I will be working with for the next two years.

As a result of this event, local government and myself have iniated a campaign for swimming lessons. Don’t worry, this will be done at local pool and not feces water.

Also the doctor assigned to my community and myself have been talking about coordinating a first aid and cpr workshop. No time like the present I have been telling myself. So along with the swimming classes, and first aid, maybe just maybe someone who was affected by the training will be able to rescue someone in need. Dramatic? Maybe. But life here is just like that. Things that we associate as basic functioning So So needs are not even passerby thoughts here. Events like this remind me why I am here.

Jumpin Tortillas!

I know it has been awhile since I have posted, and alas there are no good reasons, except for the fact that I live in a third world country and it is really hard to explain life here.

So I have been adjusting to life here, as silly as that might seem, it’s a big step here in the Peace Corps adventure.

I don’t believe anymore that I am changing the world. I don’t believe that I will change lives. What I do believe is that I will spend the next two years creating sustainable projects that hopefully will help people help themselves. What do I mean when I say sustainable projects? This means being a facilitator in the progress of development so when I leave this place, whatever work was on-going will continue without the gringa. This is hard, because its really tempting to just get things done or just buy that soccer ball for the soccer team. I am learning that when an individual and or on a community level is given and or gifted something, NO ONE APPRECIATES IT OR RESPECTS IT. I could take offense to that, but instead I am learning the value of ownership. If someone is invested in something or someone, maybe not financially but maybe socially, people pay attention and people respect it. It’s a weird concept that we, I think as Americans tend to often overlook.

I will give you some examples that I have encountered on this:
I am currently forming a girls’ soccer team, and they lack a lot of supplies, like balls to practice with. I could just buy a ball, its like 12 bucks here for a ball. Cheap right? What’s the big deal right? The big deal here is 12 bucks is two 10 hour days of hard labor here. The big deal is who will take care of a free ball? Nobody. Why would they, it was free. No biggie. SO, we are approaching a different way. We are currently doing some fundraising selling food at soccer tournaments and doing a raffle. Our goal is not huge or unobtainable, it’s 50 bucks. But for these women, to raise 50 bucks for a common goal is a big deal here. You better believe it when we get that 50 bucks and those purchases are made, they will be fighting over the chance of who gets to take care of the balls. Silly. Maybe. More sustainable than the gringa just taking care of it, you betcha. Because now they know they are also capable of teamwork and as well as raising funds for a project. I am going to start counting little successes like these, and then maybe they will start adding up to what I prematurely thought success was defined.

I am also beginning work on a latrine project. Half of the community receives remesas from the states, but for the other half, they are without running water, electricity, and most importantly, a place to do your business. I found this out when I initially completed a health census upon arrival in my community. And this project will be beyond fundraising for funds, because this project wiill be financially expensive. So I am beginning to search for grants etc. However, in order for them to properly care for aid latrines, ownership has to be involved. I am now in the process of securing labor from the community to complete the project, so we will see how that goes.