It’s the last couple days before the UW group takes off for Uganda, and we couldn’t be more excited!
- 5 interns
- 5 weeks
- 2 clean water and sanitation sources
- 2 amazing organizations
- 1 incredible project!
After working so hard throughout the school year on everything from establishing our chapter, to fundraising, to spreading awareness, it’s hard to believe the project is about to start! It’s been an amazing process working alongside our partner organization, Rural Health Care Foundation (RHCF) and learning about their mission and the communities they work with. Our project this year is the construction of two clean water sources in the Mubende district, where currently two-thirds of the population don’t have access to safe water, and even less have adequate sanitation. It’s our first trip for the University of Washington chapter and we’re looking to start out with a big success. Good luck to the fantastic interns, and thank you to everyone who supported our chapter in having a great first year. Keep updated on the interns and our project through this blog to see all of the amazing things they accomplish while in Uganda this summer!!
In our last post we discussed the creation of the room for the MOCHE Women. This past week we dedicated most of our time to building cocinas mejoradas or in English, improved cooking stoves, for some women in the co-op. Why would these women want a stove like this? Many women cook over open flames inside their homes, which cause asthma and other respiratory issues. Furthermore, firewood is scarce and expensive. Cocinas mejoradas use less wood, heat more efficiently, and have chimney’s which remove smoke from the home; all adding up to a healthier and more cost-effective way of cooking. These stoves consist of about 40 Adobe bricks, multiple clumps of mud (barro), and about twenty bricks (ladrillos). We contracted a local man, Andres, to help us put together each stove—we made seven. The reason we only made seven stoves is because there was a lot of labor involved—more than I expected. Each Adobe weighed around 40 to 50 pounds and had to be transported from one end of the village to the other. The mud had to be thoroughly mixed with water and placed into multiple buckets to be used by Andres. We all had experience rolling, shoving, and mentally willing the buckets to move, since each bucket weighed as much as we did. Once the mud was mixed and moved to the specified location, we became one with the mud. We slathered the mud on our hands and started laboriously working—or rather, playing—with the mud to cover all of the holes of the cocinas. At the end of the day, our hands, legs and faces were covered in mud—but hey, mud is good for our skin.
One of our projects, the planting of the garden, takes place in a school called Chuya Yaku. This school is situated deeper into the jungle, 2 hours away from Puyo. We decide to spend the night in Cuya Yaku because I gets very difficult to go back and forward from both locations. The Chuya Yaku community were very welcoming and hospitable; they cooked for us, gave us a plece to sleep, and helped us make progress with the garden and the green house.
This is a picture of the cooking area in their hut. The program provided them with the ingredients to cook for us while we stayed in their community. We had a root vegetable soap and sweet plantain. We enjoyed it!
This next picture is showing an energy tea made with guayusa leaf– indigenous drink this tea at 4:00am at least once a week:
We decided to buy hammocks to sleep in during the night. I can attest that sleeping in a hammock will be some of the most comfortable moments of your life. The right sized hammock and the correct hanging angle can make your sleeping experience in hammocks quite rewarding =)
At about 3:45am we were woken up by a roster…it was the funniest moment! At that time, all we wanted was to find the nearest machete and get rid of that roster. Lol
We all had a great time together in Chuya Yaku( Ellie, Caterina, Jehireh, Devan, Brandon, and I).
Guatemala, UPAVIM, children, you.
With such a large world, it becomes easy to think that one person cannot possibly do anything to invoke positive change -so it is easy to sit back and watch.
This summer I realized just how easy it is to help. I became involved in a trip to Guatemala through Nourish International, and my experience as a volunteer teacher has been so much more than I expected it to be.
Even at first glance, the level of poverty in the area surrounding UPAVIM -the school in which I worked- is evident. However, there is something about La Esperanza that holds true to its translation: Hope. It both amazed and inspired me to see that those who have so little, yet they are still grateful for all that they have.
I think that was my favorite experience: the cultural change, especially with regards to school. As a first-generation Filipino American, I think that I was more used to different cultures than some of my other organization members. I have visited the provinces in the Philippines in which my dad lived the majority of his youth, and it was actually a bit worse off than the area where we stayed in Guatemala. However, I was never able to experience Filipino schools, and although it was stressful at times, this became my favorite part of my experience in Guatemala.
I worked in Reforzamiento (“Reinforcement”), an after-school program which provides opportunities for learning to those who cannot afford school. However, unlike in America, there are no laws against truancy. Children are not dragged to school by their parents. Children came to Reforz voluntarily. Most always had notebooks with them, always came in smiling, were always happy to be there.
This is not to say that teaching was always easy. Surprisingly, teaching in mostly Spanish was not the difficult part, rather the culture in which students were raised, combined with the lack of schooling, made teaching tricky. Most days, I would help kid of the appropriate age level in writing letters, reading, multiplying and dividing. However, there were days where I would teach a twelve-year-old how a sentence has a period at the end and the difference between certain letters. After a good twenty minutes, repeating “espacio” (“space”) multiple times to show the difference between a letter and a word gets tiring.
But that’s the beauty of it. While there were few who did not want to cooperate fully, there those who would not stop no matter how long it took. My fondest memory (but also most frustrating) was when I had to teach a seven-year-old how to write the number one. Our supervisor – a native Guatemalan- wanted them to write the number one a certain way (like 1 without the base line), and the little boy I was working with could not seem to get it; his numbers kept turning out oblong, even after his friend and I drew examples. I even had to resort to drawing out dots for him to trace, but he still could not write the number one. After an hour of attempts, the moment he finally drew it made me ecstatic! Through cheering and smiles, I made him high-five me plenty of times to show him how proud I was of him.
THAT, is how one person can make a difference.
It was not always instructional time for the kids, as we often went to the canchas, which was the cement area where kids played. Even in the Reforz room we often played games with the kids. We came to realize that anything was good for them, as long as they were not on the streets. In Reforz, they were not exposed to gang violence.
And at the end of the day, many students voluntarily give the teachers a kiss good-bye on the cheek out of respect and gratitude. As an aspiring teacher, I think this is the one thing I will truly miss the most, as I know this would not be considered “okay” in America. Even if the day was exhausting, you were left knowing the kids appreciate what you did for them. Some days, your cheek would be more slobbery than others, and the “Gracias, hasta manana!” was always worth it.
After being home for several weeks, I have been able to reflect on my time volunteering with UPAVIM. Before I got to Guatemala, I was worried about how the teachers and students would feel about some American college student coming to teach English, but those fears soon went away as we were welcomed with open arms from both the students and staff of UPAVIM.
An average day for me at UPAVIM started with helping to teach a second grade English class. Once class was over, I returned to the roof to have lunch with the other volunteers. After lunch, I then went to Reinformaziento, where I helped tutor students in math and reading. Twice a week I would also teach an English class to some of the kids after school.
My favorite memories from my time spent in Guatemala, revolve around the interactions I had with the children. Despite the challenges that many of the children faced in their lives, they were truly the happiest most loving children that I have ever met. I will always remember my first full day at UPAVIM when we took the kids to the park. As we rode on the bus, it was filled with the sound of laughter and singing as one of the students danced up and down the aisle.
I look back at the 6 weeks I spent in Guatemala and am very grateful for the experience. Even though I came to UPAVIM with the intent of teaching the students, they taught me more than I could have ever imagined.
The 2014 Summer Institute is just one week away! We can’t wait for students and alumni from across North America to get to know our amazing speakers. Let’s take a moment to learn about four of our guests in the second of a series of speaker features. Stay tuned for more!
Zach Ward, DSI
As a Chapel Hill native and proud Carolina graduate, Zach has been performing and directing comedy for more than 20 years. He is the founder, artistic director and executive producer of Dirty South Comedy Theater, as well as the executive producer and artistic director for the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. He has received critical acclaim from the Chicago Reader and the Chicago Tribune for Dual Exhaust (Top 10 “Most Influential Comedy Duos of the Past Decade”) and The Beatbox (Critic’s Choice, Best Bet, Chicago’s “Top 5 Latenight Shows”). Zach can currently be seen performing comedy around the country and at the DSI Comedy Theater. Hetranslates success both in business and on stage to professional speaking, business and brand consulting, leadership development and team building for clients including Monster.com, Proctor&Gamble, Motorola Latin American and Duke Corporate Education. Zach will be leading the Storytelling & Improv session, where he will help students strengthen their leadership and storytelling skills for their work abroad.
Barbara Jessie-Black, PTA Thrift Shop
Barbara is the Executive Director of the PTA Thrift Shop in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Barbara Jessie-Black has a MBA from Meredith College and has experience working with both corporate companies such as Belk inc. as well as non-profits such as The PTA Thrift Shop. While Barbara enjoyed her time working with Belk she maintained that she wanted to part of a Non profit organization and giving back to the Community. Since joining the PTA Thrift Shop, Barbara has worked on revamping the PTA Thrift Store’s Image and scaling up the business in order for it to be able to compete with other local businesses. Along with her involvement on Multiple Boards such as the UNC Health Care Systems, and Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, Barbara is also Co-Founder of OneVoice Institute of Business and Entrepreneurship, Inc. in Durham. Barabara will be speaking about how to scale in business in order to help students gain the skills necessary for scaling their own chapters and chapter ventures.
Evan Ashkin, Nourish Board of Directors
Evan Ashkin is an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill as well as a member of Nourish International’s Board of Directors. He is the lead faculty at UNC for a health promotion and disease prevention program in rural Central Mexico, which focuses on food security issues. Additionally, Evan works for AccessCare, part of Community Care of North Carolina, creating disease management programs for chronically ill Medicaid patients. He was also the founder of the Health Care for the Homeless program in Albany, NY. Evan will be speaking to students in a group session about what it means to engage in partnerships, and how to talk about Nourish International’s approach to development.
Ann-Marie Clayton, Nourish Board of Directors
Ann-Marie is a PhD student at NC State in the Department of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and is currently the Program Assistant for the Humanitarian Work Psychology Initiative at NC State. In 2012, she earned her BA in Psychology from California State University-Fresno, where she served as the Secretary of the Student Senate and as a Research Assistant in a psychology, business, and social work lab. Ann-Marie has significant non-profit experience, as she has served as the Coordinator of Central Valley Book Bank in Fresno County, and has coordinated summer community volunteer programs for youth in Arkansas. She is also a founding member of the Global Organisation for Humanitarian Work Psychology, which seeks to support efforts to enhance human welfare. Ann-Marie will be speaking to students about to how emphasize sustainability, and why it is important develop for development.
Career Day at Summer Institute!
We are also very excited about Career Day at the Summer Institute! Nourish is honored to have so many amazing people speaking about their experiences in order to support students in pursuit of their future careers! Our Career Day speakers include:
Carrboro Farmer’s Market
John Van Aalst
MD- UNC School of Medicine
Megan DePorter Zeishner
Cisco – Community Relations
Jeremy Collins, JD
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Kenan-Flagler Business School
Teach For America