Yesterday it was my birthday…hung one more year on the line. I got a great letter from Elke, cards from Grandma and my mother, and a slew of facebook comments. Thanks everyone!
Today I had to come into town on the schoolbus (stupid Tuesdays)… for a meeting with the Toledo Children and Adolescents (TOLCA) organization. We’re working in conjunction with
UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to improve hygiene and health education in rural villages.
What this all means is that our village gets a free FLUSH toilet for our school. Corazon is very excited about the project, more excited about the fact that they don’t have to pay for it. But I hope to have everyone in the community try out the latrine once it’s done, see how they like it. As of now,
there is only one pit latrine in the village, used by the schoolchildren; everyone else just uses the bush. The problem with this (besides the obvious) is that the pigs in the village are allowed to roam freely,
and love to eat human feces (along with anything else that’s made of carbon and isn’t bolted to the ground). In addition, the children rarely wear shoes, so we have the highest rate of intestinal worms
and blood borne parasites in the country. I say this stuff a lot, but it's why I'm here.
Our meeting today concerned matters like these, how to get communities to pen their livestock, incorporate hand washing and teeth brushing into the daily routine, and finally, work on issues of water sanitation and nutrition.
Yesterday I woke up at 5 to the sounds of piglets squealing in agony. It sounded like they were just killing them, but very very slowly. I ran over and witnessed another new event: porcine castration. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Then I went out with my host father and brother, Manuel and Leonardo, to the plantation. The job for the day was harvesting the end of the summer crop before the fall planting, to occur next week.
The plantation, or ‘C’al’, in kekchi, is a 45 minute walk from the village, close to the next village of San Lucas. Then the turn off into the jungle, where you walk for another twenty minutes or so; until
we reach the cornfield, which is not a field as we know it, but a 5 acre patch of cleared jungle with corn stalks every 4 feet or so.
I’m not lying when I say I spent eight hours in the burning sun, breaking corn off the stalks\ (90% of which were hopelessly infected with weevils and earwigs and mites and other awesome stuff).
“Oh, the pigs like to eat them.” I resented this information, because I hate pigs. I spent my whole
day off harvesting pig food. But I got to hear a lot of good stuff about Manuel and his life. Corn is, in every sense of the definition, a way of life. When my host dad was growing up, corn tortillas were all
they could eat, three meals a day. No rice, beans, flour, just corn. The only money would come from selling pigs, and it would take two days to get to PG town, by foot through the jungle,
because there was no road. It’s going to sound ridiculous, but his story really made me
appreciate all I have in Corazon, and how far the village has come in 20/30 years.
Finally I’d like to say a big THANK YOU (If you’re reading) to some awesome volunteers from St. Louis Missouri, (Anita, Donna, Barb, and several others whoes names I have forgotten) who stayed for a week, helping to teach in our village, offering their hands with tutoring and some super fun activities to supplement my health promotion campaign. The kids still talk about them, and their amazing contributions of time (and toothpaste ; P ) is definitely appreciated. Love you guys!!