Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Last meeting in Libertad for the Systematization

The systematization continues...on Monday I had my second meeting with the whole team to work through the last two packets of interview questions. We thought we were going to be able to do it all in our meeting last week but we acutally needed an entire additional day in order to complete everything. We worked through all the remaining questions in a very very hot little room. Everyone was incredibly patient and helpful. At this point I have all the information I need for the three parts of the systematization: the historical reconstruction, the current obstacles and issues, and the step-by-step guide to implement a village health program. Unfortunately I only have a week to compile all the information!The office in Libertad where we had the two meetings. The Extentionistas are out front on their motorcycles. Each Extentionista oversees a region that includes several communities. They oversee all the different aspects of the health program. All the Extentionistas drove to Libertad (up to 2 hours for some of them) twice in order to help me collect all the information from them.

The systematization in process (sorry for bad quality of the picture, there wasn't much light in the room!)

Weekend trip to Gracias Lempira and Copán Ruinas.

This past weekend Nick and I took a trip to two places: Gracias Lempira and Copán. In Gracias we staid the night so we could see the natural hot springs there. The town was also having a fundraiser for the local woman's organization and a local hospital. We talked with a few of the locals while eating amazing pupusas for dinner.

The next day we headed to Copán. Copan is home of to the country's most extensive Mayan Ruins. We spent Saturday afternoon exploring all the ruins. I've included pictures from both stops.

View from one of the walls of the Mayan ruins

Overlooking the central area of the Ruins. This area was reserved for the leader and the nobility in the Mayan society

Weekend trip to Gracias Lempira and Copán Ruinas

The "Staircase" at the Mayan ruins. The steps have the story of the ancient civilization. Unfortunately when the ruins were found most of the blocks had fallen to the bottom. They have slowly rebuilt the staircase but they are still not sure what all the hieroglyphics mean

Nick and I in the "ball court". Apparently the Mayans used to play a special kind of ball game here. It wasn't really a game though....seeing as one of the players was usually sacrificed after the game...

The ruins are all situated in a forest in Copán. The trees were absolutely amazing.

Weekend Trip to Gracias Lempira and Copán Ruinas

My favorite dish in the whole world: pupusas. melty cheese in homemade tortilla....

The church in Gracias Lempira

The sulfur hot springs in Gracias Lempira. Absolutely amazing. It ended up raining while we were in the pools of hot water. Insanely beautiful.

The military fort that looks over Gracias Lempira

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Systematization Continues...

Tomorrow I take the next big step in my project for PAG. I will be meeting with the whole team in a town called Libertad (about 1.5 hours away from Siguatepeque). The goal is to explain the systematization, conduct written interviews with different members of the team, and have a focus group discussion.

I spent the last week at the Proyecto office here in Sigua trying to figure out what exactly the systematization should look like. It turns out that the concept is not just the broad, all encompassing term that I thought it was. The concept of systematizing experiences has had a long history in Latin America. It started in the 60s among professionals who were working with popular groups implementing projects and actions that aimed at improving their life and/or their socio-political situation. Systematization helped social programs in Latin America survive the massive political upheavals that happened during the 60s and 70s. The process of systematization lost some steam in the 70s during all the political turmoil but it returned full force in the 80s and gained popularity in the 90s. Luckily for me, Action Aid compiled the essential documents for systematization and translated them into English. It has been incredibly helpful.

I'm definitely looking forward to the big meeting tomorrow in Libertad. I'm terrified of having to speak so much Spanish, although the whole staff has been very patient with me. It should be a long meeting seeing as we have to cover all of PAG's different projects including mother/infant health education, sanitation projects, microcredit projects, HIV/AIDS education, and medicine distribution.

Quiet weekend in Sigua...

This weekend was a quiet one. We spent the weekend in Siguatepeque. Nick started the weekend out sick but bounced back in time for the World Cup final and our own soccer game up at Colonia Canada. Colonia Canada is located up the hill from our house. It is where Nick is building a library and teaching. The Colonia was originally built for refugees after Hurricane Mitch struck the country a few years ago. The kids are a really wonderful bunch. Definitely the best Spanish teachers I've had thus far. The girls all wrote me notes (with candy included) on Monday...(I think this only slightly disrupted Nick's class....)

Nick and his soccer team

My new friends.

Kitten Crisis

Recently, Nick and I endured a Kitten Crisis. As per Andrea's request, I've included photos.

This past weekend a tiny tiny tiny black kitten got stuck in the back yard. I insisted on giving it milk. I guess that was a big mistake because kitten ended up in the small unfinished room next to Nick and I's apartment crying the entire night. I'm assuming she was trying to ask nicely for more milk. Day #2 she found her way back into that room. Nick decided that in order to avoid further kitten-invoked sleep deprivation he was going to get her out of that room.

Nick vs. Kitten....Nick: 1, Kitten:0

...kitten ended up in a bucket and was gently sent back to the back yard.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trying to keep up with my severely fabulous little sister...

(...and if you haven't checked out her blog you should: http://anniesummerinsitka.blogspot.com/)

In true Cravero child form, I brought my headlight with me to Honduras. For the record: I also brought it to Paris last year. Essentially, I never leave home without it. Just in case. Little did I know when I packed the headlight this time it would become extremely essential after barely a few days in Siguatepeque.

Sigua is the base for the organization I am working for: Proyecto Aldea Global (or Global Village Project). I am working as a volunteer for their village health program. This program includes extensive education on HIV/AIDS and mother/child nutrition. It also includes health consultations by PAG staff and basic medicine distribution. They more recently added a "water project" which includes building latrines and water filters for villages and need as well as a microcredit program.

I was sent up into the mountains (headlight and bug repellent in hand) to see all these amazing programs. The PAG team was based in a town called Minas de Oro for five days. The trip was not for the faint of heart. The drive to Minas was 4 and a half hours in a bright teal Izusu from circa 1995. (Please try to picture this teal truck driving up the side of several mountains for four hours.)

All ten of us were in a large cabin at the top of a hill. From our base we met with all the "extentionistas" who oversee the volunteers in each rural community. We collected all their records from the last 3 months of work in all the villages. It was a huge job. For the last two days we traveled to several communities to help conduct health consultations, education sessions, and restock the volunteers with building supplies and medicines.

The views from the mountains of Honduras are stunning. (However there are no snow capped mountains like Annie's Alaskan vistas) The fields of coffee beans go straight up the sides of the mountains. As we drove across the ridges my coworkers pointed out all the fields that have been made possible by the PAG microcredit program. Many of the staff members here have worked for PAG for 5-20 years. Their knowledge of the country side and their love for their work is truly inspiring.

I've included a few posts with pictures from the trip. I promise more are coming soon with pictures from Sigua and Nick and I's work here.

PAG in Minas de Oro and surrounding communities

My boss, Magda, during a consulation. PAG convened in one village with several staff members to offer health consultations to village families. A lot of the consultations concerned women's and children's health issues.

At the consultation, PAG systematically dispensed basic medicines to families in need. The woman in this picture is Nora. She is a woman from the village who is a volunteer. Each village that PAG works with has a volunteer who helps staff members keep in close contact with the health issues in the village. Driving back to Siguatepeque was long because the volunteers kept waving down Magda to talk. It is really amazing how much reach PAG is able to have into these communities with the help of the volunteers.

Minas de Oro and surrounding villages

Marvin doing an interactive training session on HIV/AIDS for highschoolers

The president of the community group in Minas de Oro that oversees the dispensing of medications brought by PAG

Delivering supplies to a rural village so that they can construct latrines. This is all part of a "Water project" that Proyecto has put together which includes building functioning latrines and water filters for rural mountain villages

PAG programs in Minas de Oro and surrounding communities

Education program for women with children up to two years old on child nutrition

18 day old baby!

Trip to Minas de Oro and surrounding villages

view from the village Barro

Minas de Oro, where we were based
The church in Minas de Oro