Monday, October 21, 2013


Last Monday children here started holidays that will last until mid January. We have decided to run activities for them. Every day from Monday to Friday in the morning we have activities with different grade on the specific topic. For the first two weeks it’s “travelling around the world” where we talk about countries from different continents, showing photos, talking about differences comparing to Guatemala, food, dancing and doing crafts. The next two topics will be: “nature” with animals, plants and a bit of ecology, and “cultural activities” with art, theatre, sports etc. In the afternoon we have classes for everyone, Monday and Friday computer classes, with educational games, Tuesday and Thursday literature – reading books together with different exercises helping in understanding what is read, Wednesday movie watching. We have started on Monday, for the morning activities sometimes we have 10 kids sometimes no one is coming. 

When they come they are eager to learn and do the activities even though they are rather shy. In the afternoon there are much more kids coming (15-20). They like doing math or writing exercises on computers and the games we do apart. During literature classes we only do activities connected with reading and writing. Every child coming starts reading a book and we try to help if any problems. There are also some exercises like reading small texts and guessing what is described. All of the kids try to read and with those who don’t know reading and writing we seat apart showing them letters writing with them and trying to read simple words/books. There is one child already doing progress in our classes in reading.

To help us in the activities with small children but also to create young leaders in the community, we have asked few young people to help us in activities for kids. We have 3 people (one boy and two girls). They help a lot especially with 5-6 years old kids and first grade translating from Spanish to Q’eqchi everything we say. So the team of volunteers here actually has 5 people now: Astrid, Celia, Deborah, Ewa and Waldemar. All the volunteers are doing great job. :) We will have regular meetings where we plan to discuss past week and plan activities for the coming week. One of them is studying in high school in Telemán but the rest cannot continue studying because of lack of money. Wishing for REAL right to education for all kids…

Apart from work with kids and young people we have started talking with parents. We visit families to ask about what they know and think about Lichutam, what kind of activities they want us to do. We ask them about their kids, if they know Spanish on communicative level, can read, write and count. We also ask about their needs (of adults) and activities they propose for themselves. Families we have visited so far are quite positive about an idea of activities with adults. Some of them just want to join the ideas we have and others propose new once. We already have people interested in: writing, reading, Spanish, computer classes, gardening (vegetables mainly), weave, English, workshops on topics like health, children growing, home budgeting, addictions prevention, family planning. There are people in the village who could run some of these activities. It would be great to start the first of them this year.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New volunteers

Lichutam has 2 new volunteers onsite – Astrid, half French half Finnish, and Ewa, hundred per cent Polish.

After two weeks of travelling through Guatemala and Spanish course in Antigua, we finally arrived with Astrid to Nueva Mercedes two weeks ago. The views during the trip were stunning even though the trip was long and tiring. We both fell in love with pick-up half an hour trip from Telemán to Nueva Mercedes. We arrived in the evening and went straight to our house. It positively surprised us that it’s quite big and comfortable.

On Tuesday morning we went to school for the first time. It was a celebration of Children’s Day. We met teachers and children. Kids were playing instead of having classes. 

There was “piñata”, a big doll made of paper with lots of candies inside. Kids had to destroy it to eat candies. Parents together with teachers prepared lunch for the kids. Of course we were stars there as everyone wanted to know our names, talk to us, play with us etc., especially with Astrid’s blond fair hair. 

In the afternoon we had classes with kids. Only few of them came but were involved in classes, doing math exercises on computers and reading with us.

Andrew was presenting us to everyone we met, trying to explain who is who and whom should we contact in different situations.  People here are very nice and friendly, they are willing to help us in any situation.

A lot happened during the last two weeks:
- we had visits of many pets in the house - few scorpions, many spiders, even one tarantula, small snake – now we are not even surprised when we see them J
- we got used to the hot weather a bit but first days were rather difficult
- things/events here are never on time and for us at the beginning it was difficult to handle it; now we just try to do our stuff while waiting J
- we had professional tortilla lesson by Celia (14 years old) and her sister (8 years old)
- on Sunday we went with kids to swim in the nearby river; cold water and hot weather together with beautiful view made it a great time spent with kids

- we were invited to the Birthday Party of one of the teacher’s son (3) and we had a possibility to try home made food - chicken soup, tamal, tortilla, rise, and a dish made of chicken blood (very interesting taste)
- we’ve met owners of the plantation in Nueva Mercedes, a very nice engineer working here,
people from the nearby village, also international volunteers who stay there working with kids, garden and construction
- last Friday, we went to Telemán for the event prepared by High school students about Maya culture; traditional dances, music (including playing marimba, Guatemalan traditional instrument), clothes, imitations of houses with decorations typical for Maya people, food prepared by the students – perfect end of the first two weeks and the best start to know Maya culture; of course we were taking pictures of the houses and students in their traditional clothes and people were taking pictures of us J
- Q’eqchi – it is very different from Spanish and quite difficult to pronounce; however we try hard to learn some words and we see that people appreciate it when we can at least say words like “bantiox” (thank you) or “masa’la chol” (how are you); so we keep trying. J

Andrew left last Saturday and I think it was a sad day not only for him but for many people in the village. It’s strange to be here without him. Who’s going to play guitar and sing every night, wake us up with breakfast ready, prepare delicious and (very) spicy food, teach us how to make tortillas, explain again and again who is who? It seems that now we have to start building our own female life here. J