So…only five days in Guatemala so far, and it feels like we’ve been here forever, and at the same time, like we just arrived. Our stay at Villas Majen has been comfortable, frankly more comfortable than we expected, complete with hot water, hot and tasty meals, and internet!
On Wednesday we arrived in Guatemala City and drove to the supermarket to pick up some food before we arrived at Villas Majen. Even the drive to our hostel made it obvious we were no longer in Gainesville. The streets are unkept, and the buildings are painted in beautiful colors, with chips of paint falling off the sides. Thursday we spent our first day at Casa del Alfarero, and met the staff, some women enrolled in the entrepreneurship classes, and many children. The people we’ve met so far are extremely welcoming, which goes a long way especially when communication is difficult because of my barely existent knowledge of Spanish words. My favorite person that I’ve met so far is a little girl named Ashley. She is two years old and has been teaching me Spanish words by placing my hands on different objects and saying their names and making me repeat them. She is so smart and so energetic. Below is a picture of us!
My favorite experience so far has been attending the cooking class held at Casa del Alfarero for the women interested in starting their own cooking businesses. These women, and their small children and their babies cram into a classroom used traditionally for children, equipped with a few tables, and some cooking equipment. The heat of the gas stove, the bodies crammed into the room, and the lack of air conditioning was extreme, but the energy of the women and the smell of the cooking food overpowered any surface level discomfort. In class we learned to cook a soup like dish called khakik, and a ceviche like dish complete with tomatoes, tomatillos, onions and pig skin. Both were so delicious, and we were able to get the recipes to bring back home to cook.
In class we learned to cook a soup like dish called khakik, and a ceviche like dish complete with tomatoes, tomatillos, onions and pig skin. Both were so delicious, and we were able to get the recipes to bring back home to cook.
We also were introduced to our long-term assignment we’ll be working on while here. We’ll be making a “how to create a business” book for people in the cooking, jewelry making, and beauty classes, as well as others in the community. We’ve decided to create a book that can be followed by people with varying levels of eduction, focusing on pictures to depict the general steps and ideas, and using text to provide more detail and extra examples. We’re all excited about how this project will turn out and are confident that it will be providing a sustainable resource that will increase opportunity for the people in this community in the long run.
As an ending note, I’d like to tie this all together with the reason that we’re here, and the people we’re hoping to serve. Over 13,000 people make a living off of finding scrap plastic, metal, or other sellable objects in the Guatemala City dump. These people are subject to the harsh conditions of the dump which carries many diseases and harbors dangers we could never think of having in our jobs. People risk developing harsh respiratory illness, and even getting run over by the dump trucks in their fight to find the most valuable materials as fast as they can. Many of these people view themselves as garbage and are stuck in this cycle of poverty.
Casa del Alfarero focuses on “taking the dump from the people’s minds” instead of taking the people from the dump. The idea is that if you simply move people, there will always be another dump, but if you teach them to see and aspire to more than the dump, they will create better lives for their families. The faith and humbleness of the people we’ve met is incredible. I’m happy to be here, and an anxious for what will come in the next few weeks!
until next time,