Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hugo's first weeks in NM

These are our volunteer Hugo first impressions after two weeks around, they're written in the first person. Due to technical problems a part of the text came highlighted in white, but we didn't want to keep you waiting, so here we go :)

Getting from Spain to New Mercedes took me 2 days. I spent the first one in a plane, so you can imagine how boring it was. However, I spent the second one travelling Guatemala by bus, so it was a really fun experience. Going from Guatemala City to Nueva Mercedes in one day was a stunning shock. I changed the noise of cars by the sound of the multitude of animals that you can find around here.
It was night at the time I arrived, so after talking with Filipa and taste the delicious dinner she had prepared for me, I went to sleep thinking about all the things I would be able to live in the following weeks. The next day was Wednesday, and that means it's the day to do all purchases in the market of Telemán. It was full of colors, smells and tastes. Before going there I had a first contact with the children and teachers at school, and they welcomed me with open arms. In the afternoon, we had an activity with children, and afterwards I visited with Filipa and Edwin the orchards that are within our program. So, aside from getting a lot of information on it, I could walk around throughout New Mercedes, a really pretty village, and meet its people.

It was a very intense and exhausting first day for me. In addition, all was accentuated with the weather: very hot and humid, so I was sweated all day. I had to take a shower three times that day!
During the following days I got to know the functioning of various primary grades and kept doing afternoon activities. It is my first time as a volunteer, the first time I have to deal with children and the first time I'm in Latin America. Therefore, the beginnings were not easy for me, but with the support of everyone here in Nueva Mercedes I was able to adapt quickly. I think every time I'm knowing more about every children and I hope that, in the future, I will become one more for them.
Mainly, I help in the teacher Rony classes in second grade. They are improving their reading and mathematics skills. I feel very comfortable with them and I feel I'm helping. We are also trying to start tutoring Básico and Diversificado students. Of course, afternoon activities and kitchen gardens program also interest me very much.

 I think the next few weeks will pass very fast, and at the end of all I hope I have contributed in everything I can. I will have many memories and I also want to know, at least, some Q'eqchi! Till now it was sunny almost every day, but we are about to begin the rainy season, and I am sure that with it many more adventures and experiences will come.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Winds of change

This week we welcomed Hugo to the team and in a couple of weeks there will be a third member with us, our projects gain a new rhythm and the kids learn so much through their questions to the newly arrived!
Welcome Hugo!

On the other hand, we started our info sessions cycle, which did not go exactly as expected…in spite of info dissemination trough, several community meetings and spaces the truth is that the attendance was much lower than expected. On the bright side, the attendants shared many of their stories and we were surprised to notice that some women in the community are aware that girls have the same rights to study as boys, that studying is fundamental to have better opportunities and improve life standards and quality. We are negotiating with the speaker the possibility of a second info session where we would make sure, through our scholarship projects, that at least those parents would attend, this would amount to 22 parents (youngsters invited too).
What about reptiles?
The kitchen gardens projects suffered a bit of a low moment: there was a problem with the community’s water source and part of the structures had to be cleaned, so for several days they had no water for themselves, excused to say that to water their kitchen garden neither. This causes frustration and the draught killed some plants. 

Instructions to prepare organic insecticide
Preparing organic insecticide

Now water is back and motivation too, last Friday we had a meeting were women learned how to do organic insecticide and to discuss the future of the project. To be sustainable the only key part missing is the seed bought. We have been doing it until now and though from the second round of planting the families give a small contribution (responsibility and engagement levels as well as ownership are strengthen trough that contribution – but could they find a way to do it by themselves? The reactions were mixed, but most were afraid of that opportunity for independence. As this is brainstorming on the future we calm them down as all we want is to hear from them and, together, find the best solution. After all, sustainable development requires the projects to be as self-sufficient as possible, empowering the people as the agents of change in their own lives.
Our partnerships are moving forward and stronger and we will welcome a new member to the team in some weeks. Keep checking our blog and facebook out for the latest!
 Best from Mercedes