Saturday, February 06, 2010

lago atitlan

we've moved on from the city to lake atitlan. i have treasures on scrap paper....the letter on spiral notebook paper from our sponsored teen, the notes from the encargada de alfabetizacion (literacy program) and the email contacts from the chicago travellers that will retrieve our i phone adaptor pony express style from our previous hotel and take it to our nanny*** who will then give it to us on the plane ride home. our daughter kairos has been a wonderful traveller. she did fabulously on the winding road that led to the town of pana where we caught the boat to casa del mundo. ironically she keeps wanting to listen to and sing her favorite song, "i love trash" by oscar the grouch of sesame street and steve tyler of aerosmith. there are 7 volcanos that circle the lake and many villages. we so wished we could climb them...not a toddler adventure for this time. the main challenge at lago atitlan is the fertilizer run off from the coffee plantations...even over the non existent plumbing or waste disposal services in the villages. (starbucks plantations especially.) everyone in guatemala drinks nescafe. all the beans are exported. and for our morning pick me up, "we" pollute this beautiful world treasure. there are many folks working to help the situation. one of the largest grants has been awarded to the vashon island rotary club, where we live, stateside. so there is hope extending in many directions between vashon, guatemala city, lake atitlan. casa del mundo means house of the world. it is the mayan metaphor for the individual body and then the village. may we care more and more for the body micro and macro. bendiciones.
****laura trevellyan, social worker, emt, organic gardener, horse trainer, fluent spanish speaker came as our ninera (nanny). she rocked it for us on so many occasions, navigating rides or details. when we left for lake atitlan, she stayed behind and interpreted for the team of doctors from maine who were treating the families at camino seguro.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

pre school , literacy program

yesterday was the first day at the camino seguro pre school. with the pre school and the main school, camino seguro teaches just 40 % of the children who live in the dump community. the others just stay in the maze of tent / shack structures, older siblings caring for the younger siblings...even if that means 3 yr old taking care of infant, while their moms go to work. the moms and some dads work long hours amid a huge flock of vultures, graves falling off the hill from the municipal cemetary, and 1/3 of the trash in the country. it is their cycle of life. apparently, last week a dead hippo from the zoo ended up in the dump. a company did studies of the largest emissions of methane in the world. the guatemala city dump won! so the company will try to make a system to harness the methane for fuel possibly training the current workers there. 7 yrs ago they predicted the dump would close in 2 yrs....but locals predict it will be here for decades more. just 2 weeks ago a piece of land that was cleared by the dump land owner for camino seguro use was squatted by 250 huajerros. at this time they think there are 1000 people living in this relatively small area maybe 100´ x 100´. workers are still coming to be in the dump and children are growing up to work in the dump...all needing space. the school is in a quandry....they need space too. yesterday pre school started. the volunteers walked into the compound smiling, crying, frightened, delighted children from 1 yr old up. the kids ate breakfast, learning to use forks and spoons, then all brushed their teeth before going into the montesorri style classrooms. their moms have to volunteer to help at the school in order for their children to attend. some of them have begun to take literacy classes as well. somewhere between 45 and 60 will begin some sort of literacy training either beginning where their preschoolers are or trying to finish 6th grade. there are a few at the high school level....there is even a 78 yr old and an 82 yr old learning! the men have begun to show interest as well. so far 8! ela and the director of that program, gabe, are scheming to figure our a craft for the men to do in addition to the literacy program.
.....meanwhile, our sponsored teen, jose 16yrs old,spent a couple hours that morning writing a note to us in english with some of his airbrush style art. gonna have to frame it. we are hoping to set up a system to skype with the students throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

"what is rich?" ....happiness?!! ....satisfaction?!! being here in guatemala city with the "huajerros" has us thinking about this. 80% of the workers in the guatemala city dump are women supporting their families. we have 3 sponsored teenagers whose mom´s do this challenging work to support up to 9 children. they all live in small shacks of wood poles with metal or plastic placed on top, on land which they are squatting, crowded with their siblings and with thousands of other people packed in running water. yesterday we took these hopefilled teens to macdonald´s (their choice) for the first time. they graciously tried to interpret our spanish and they practiced their english beautifully. and they told us their hopes. we are inspired by their tenacity and determination. they get themselves to school, they self motivate to study, they are raising themselves and often caring for their siblings while their moms work incredibly hard to bring anything to the dinner table. they are even inspiring their moms to learn to participate in the literacy program. with every odd stacked against them they still dream of being a mechanic or stewardess or architect. ....and they walked home after school with the bag of food we gifted them hoping not to be robbed of it so they could share it with their families.