| Sep 08, 2010
Breakfast at 6:30 comes early for some of this crew but the Medical Teams International Guatemala crew is to arrive at 7:00 for an introduction meeting. The office was opened six months ago and what an impressive group of Guatemalans make up the staff. We were introduced to each staff member - Mike interpreted as the shared their responsibilities and hopes for change. These natives know how to identify the communities that are in the greatest need and they begin their programs there. Several of the members have attended school in the United States including a program at John Hopkins University. Again the theme that change comes slowly but that education of the leaders and the children are the way. Having seen the dedication of the leaders in San Miguel Chamil to change and their love for their children we are believers. The work Medical Teams International and Food for the Hungry do together is impressively methodical and detailed. It is often hard for us as we are "immediate gratification" Americans and want to just give it to them - make it happen.
Our two cars leave for the climb up to our mountain village on roads that have been torn up badly during the night from rains. There are big rocks that have rolled down from the cliffs that are cut into, in one area the road is blocked by a slide. Villagers were working on clearing passage and only let us through when they found out who we were and what we were doing further up the mountain. I am writing this early Thursday morning and anticipate an even rougher ride this morning as we heard heavy rain during the night. It looks like the sun is coming out again this morning. We have been so incredibly lucky to have only a few sprinkles during our work here in Guatemala. The temperature is in the high 70s and although it is humid, the nights are cool and blankets are necessary! Bugs have not been an issue at all - we can sit outside for dinner and not have any bug issues! The villagers are already working at the site. Today the foundation and footing pouring will begin. There is a lot of laughter coming from this heave ho bunch!
Chris and Dana join Amalia and Cesar our driver who are walking to the school to talk to the teacher about a team visit on Thursday. The walk is steep, clay soil that has been baked to a slippery hardpan; there is some gravel periodically which only makes it more slippery. One child spots us and the call goes out "gringos!" ... whatever order and control the teachers (we saw three but were told there are six) had was totally gone. Children swarmed around us - we played chase and Chris did a hand "patty cake" game with a few. Anything we teach them they are enthusiastic about. Counting to 10 was fun and easy and you can hear groups of children saying "my name is" along each path! Malnourishment stunts the brain's potential but we have seen mostly bright and eager children. A child we assume to be five or six is often 10 or 11 so we know that there are lasting effects of malnourishment that we don't see. The children want to touch us and pull on our shirts or touch our hair if they can get up the courage!
Amalia arranged for the team to visit the school on Thursday morning. Since we bought some drawing paper, crayons and pencils she also arranged for us to have the church opened for us to do an art class in the afternoon. Each child was give two pieces of paper - one to draw something for us to take home and one for them to take with them. We drew a huge crowd very quickly and when the adults began peaking in the door we pulled them in and gave them paper and crayons. Sondra does art therapy in Hillsboro so she set up in a corner with a following and they drew each other's faces amid peals of laughter. Groups were formed and heads were down, some heads almost touching the paper. Not one villager has ever had an eye checkup but it was obvious that several children and adults alike could us some glasses. The drawings were priceless - a 58 year old man turned in a map of the area, showing the church, the road, the school and the building site. This was a wonderful time to get to know each other better. When names were written on the papers we could say their names and hear the giggles back. The church is beautiful, simple but beautiful.
We had made an appointment to stop on our way down the hill to visit one of the village leaders who had not been able to come up to visit us since she had a baby boy seven days ago. She is also a mid-wife and went to the hospital in Chemelco for delivery. She and her husband explained (through Mike) that they could not afford an education but they are doing everything they can to assure that their children are given every opportunity! It shows... Claudia, their seven year old daughter, was at home and she was very healthy looking! Mike said that this kind of family is what brings him back - they are thriving and growing to their potential!