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.