Greetings everyone! Things have been somewhat busy here and things are starting to pick up some pace. Many of you may have received my email about ABC’s 20/20 about the safety of Peace Corps in relation to female volunteers. I have received some emails about this and the content that was aired. I have to go by the little clips of what I heard and from word of mouth but it is a very unfortunate thing that happened in the past and will continue to happen. There are ways of dealing with things and I am neither in favor of how these girls were treated nor what transpired after their respective situation. Unfortunately our jobs come with danger and potential for horrible crimes. Most Peace Corps countries have cultures where it is common that women are mistreated and nothing goes on being said. It is a really unfortunate circumstance, but here as Peace Corps Volunteers we are expected to help try to shift this idea and try to encourage equal standing and equal opportunities for everyone, sometimes by shifting these ideas, most times we face questions and restraint from people. Imagine yourselves that someone is coming to teach you something new, something that you have been doing your whole life, something that you know like the back of your hand. Then you are supposed to trust something that a foreigner is coming to teach. The hardest thing sometimes that we do is to find people willing to work with us, who are actively searching to work together to achieve what we can. There are times where meetings can go seamlessly, and others where you feel you are defending reasons you are here to people, colleagues, to friends who might feel threatened by us and even worse, some might take action. We are foreigners in their home.
|View going down to Chiaque|
I was in Antigua this past weekend and went there because there was an urgent meeting that my program (Municipal Development) and the Agricultural Marketing program were asked to come and partake in. The thing that got most people interested was there was no mention of what the meeting was going to be about. When we got there we were informed that our programs, both Muni and Ag Marketing were going to be discontinued. With that being said, I am along with Justin Hargesheimer will be the last two Municipal Volunteers in Guatemala for the near future. The reasoning was that the normal applicant pool that normally applies does not have enough experience for the job at hand and Peace Corps is finding it harder and harder to fill these positions. They have many 'half matches' but its hard to find the full match. I am disheartened at the fact that we will not be able to train a new group of trainees which is a big part of second year volunteers for guiding and molding other volunteers but with the extra time, I will dedicate myself to getting more projects done and trying to help as many people as I can. Its been a whirlwind of a weekend with traveling and tough news but it is good to get back into the office and ‘routine’ of things.
|That is my by the window in a 'town council meeting' with my counterpart to my right.|
I am almost done with a database that I am going to teach my office on how to use. I have compiled information about COCODES (our community groups) with statistics of how many people are participating, how many are male, female, their position, location, telephone number, picture and more. This will be a good record keeping foundation for anyone who works here as it will provide valuable information to give to other organizations who might donate money, who are looking for specific regions to help. With this data, we will be able to provide what they are looking for, and hopefully we will be able to get funds for more projects.
Last week I went to an aldea called Chiaque. There we formed a COCODE and held elections for positions including President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. This is where I want to be working, teaching and talking to people and interacting with them on a more daily basis rather than sitting in an office. Hopefully little by little I will be able to make a solid schedule and be able to get out of the office most afternoons. The scenery was spectacular out in the country side and the people were really nice and welcoming. I am appreciative to be welcomed so warmly because it is not always the case to have people who are receptive to outside help especially from foreigners. I must take these little opportunities every chance I can get and cherish my time here because I do go back to a better world when this is over, the people here stay and I go, especially being one of the last Municipal Development Volunteers.
|Passing through the Guatemalan Hills|