It has been a while since I’ve updated my blog! Tomorrow, I will be leaving for IST (In Service Training) to learn more about how I can be better at my job. We are also learning more skills and updating our MCH group what we have been up to since we have last seen each other 2 months ago. I can’t believe how much has happened and changed here since I moved in two months ago.
Charlas, Charlas, and more Charlas
This month has been full of charlas (or health talks). I helped give a charla on self esteem, the importance of good hygiene, de-chlorinating water, and family planning. I really have enjoyed charlas, but my favorite one this month was on self esteem. María Teresa and I went to an elementary school in a local aldea (small vicinity) to give a health talk about self esteem to 5 and 6 year old. On the way there, I came up with a song (and dance moves) which I presented to the kids. They loved it! The song went like this:
Yo amo a mi misma (I love myself)
Tu amas a ti misma (You love yourself)
Todos aman a sus mismas (They all love themselves)
Esto es la autoestima (This is self esteem)
Yo sé que soy lista (I know that I am smart)
Yo sé que soy linda ( I know that I am beautiful)
Yo puedo hacer todo con Dios que me bendiga ( I can do anything through God who blesses me).
It was so awesome to see kids get so excited about loving themselves. I said to them I’m colocha (curly) and you guys aren’t. One girl has glasses in this class and others don’t. That boy has long legs, and the other boy doesn’t. I told them to celebrate their differences because God made each and everyone of us in His creation; that we are all beautiful, smart, and uniquely different for a reason. I asked them if they thought they were cool kids and they went WILD. I love kids. My coworker has a video which whenever I get it, I will post later on. Now my coworkers think that I should become a writer for children’s TV (aka Calle Sesame/Sesame Street) because I’m good at making impromptu jingles, haha.
However, one of my charlas was kind of a failure. I went with Lisdi, a health educator to Choqui to give a charla on family planning. This was the first time I had ever given a charla on family planning with men and I was pretty nervous. Lisdi let me introduce myself and lead a dinámica. Before we started, I asked them if they spoke Spanish (because the farther away you are from the center of town, the less Spanish people speak; K’iche’ is more commonly used). They said yes, but when I lead the dinámica, they said they had no idea what I was saying and started laughing. Sometimes, it makes me feel really self-conscious when this happens because I know what I said was clear, but since its the first time I’m presenting, its like I need to gain confianza with the group. But it makes me feel like my Spanish isn’t good enough even though it is. Lisdi took over since she is fluent in K’iche’ and a representative from SESAN came with us; he too is fluent in K’iche’. At one point, they had a disagreement about one of the family planning methods, and the SESAN rep took over the entire charla. He stopped addressing Lisdi and only spoke to the men about what was going on. I was pretty shocked that happened, and then they started arguing in Spanish about who was really leading the charla. I left with Bill to give another charla to kids on the importance of good hygiene, and when I came back, the SESAN rep was leading the charla. I know its important for men to be involved, especially with family planning, but I felt that the way the charla went was really bad and took away from Lisdi, who is an educator and actually knows how to use and inform people on their options for family planning.
On Having Small Children’s Hands in My Hair
So as a rule of thumb, you generally should NOT touch anyone unless they say it is ok. Here in Guatemala, I usually have a hand or two in my hair before I can begin to say no. It’s starting to get on my nerves, especially when I can hear people talking about my hair behind me and then before I know it, I feel a finger on my scalp. It is the weirdest feeling to be the center of attention all the time without wanting to be. One day, I snapped at a child (no I am not above that) because he started touching my hair and saying my hair was a wig. First of all, why would ANYONE want nappy hair as a WIG #tangles #tangles and did i say #TANGLES. I asked him why did he think my hair was fake. He kept running to touch my hair and then would run away. So I said all people in the world don’t have straight hair, and that my hair isn’t a wig and that its real. and that it is MINE. So then I pulled his hair and said how would you like if If I pulled and touched your hair? He thought it was funny, but I didn’t. Then, my coworker stepped in and explained that I’m colocha and that my hair is different than other people. Little kids love yelling COLOCHA at me on the streets and then laughing or staring. I’ve gotten used to the staring, so I just stare at them back and they get over it. I’m excited for the day when I’m considered a part of normal life so that me being colocha isn’t a big deal anymore. It’s funny to me that being colocha stands out more than being morena, but I guess its because people in my town are brown – dark brown skin so I don’t really stand out color wise as much as I could if I were say, canche (white).
Rainy season is really a thing in most parts of the world, except for Los Angeles. The rain has been so strong, that there are major mudslides, power outages, and freeways that have broken due to the rain. Peace Corps put us on stand fast, which means that we were not allowed to use public transportation or leave our sites until the rain cleared. Unlike the schools, the health center remained open even though we couldn’t leave. So for about a week, we had many days were I was at the center, watching TV or reading my book because we couldn’t go out and give charlas, do vaccinations, or anything until the rain cleared. Also, about 80% of my health center staff travels to work from other neighboring cities, so when the freeway broke and the route changed, it took over 2 hours every day for people to get to work on time. Luckily, I haven’t suffered too much rain damage and Standfast was lifted.
Drag Show & Xela Pride
I got to attend a drag show and participate in Pride in Guatemala. It was my first time seeing both events in person, and can I say, it was fabulous. I hate using the word fabulous when referencing something queer, but it truly was fabulous to see the drag show. At the show, there were openly gay people who participated in the show and in the crowd. From what I have seen in Guatemala, being closeted is absolutely necessary. The combination of machismo, ideas of masculinity, and a strong religious influence, being gay is virtually unheard of (at least in my site). To see the drag queens parade and be themselves was definitely an act of resistance and exposing themselves instead of erasing or concealing their identities. The show was really a pageant: there was swimsuit, evening wear, performance, and a Q&A section of the show. I kept yelling work hunty, but I’m not sure how that translates in Spanish. Anyways, it was great to be an ally and supportive of the organization who put on the show, IDSO. IDSO stands for Inciativia por la Diversidad Sexual de Occidente (Initiative for Sexual Diversity). IDSO also puts on Pride, which is small and more conservative than other Pride celebrations in the States. When I told my coworkers that I was going to Pride, that asked me if I was afraid that a lesbian would make a move on me. I laughed and said, I’m no more afraid of that than a man coming on to me. So, here in my site, people still haven’t really grasped the idea of being gay or lesbian, and the realities for LGBT people in this country. I try to educate them as best as I can, but as a straight person, I’m not really sure if I’m the best person to be doing that. Anyways, Pride was awesome and I loved dancing with the drag queens and participating in the event.
Goodbyes and Birthdays
We had a going away party for one of my coworkers, Mauricio. Mauricio is going to finish up his schooling and graduate soon! He was at my health center for 8 months, fulfilling his practicum for dental school. Mauricio is one of my friends, and I will miss him a lot. To celebrate his time here, we had a staff barbecue with games, Zumba, and most importantly, FOOD. It was a great time, and I’m really glad I got to be here to spend time with him.
I also go to spend my first birthday away from home, and it was better than I could have asked for. I got to spend time with my coworkers, who are really more like my friends. It’s really been awesome having them in my life here, and I appreciate them so much! They took me out for dinner and dancing, and they even got me presents! The next day my best friend and coworker, Silvia made me pancakes and her whole family came downstairs to sing Happy Birthday to me and give me presents. I felt really loved on my birthday. My first birthday away from home was one of the best ones that I’ve had yet!
Some other updates:
- Antonio Rolando, the one year old who is severely malnourished that I’ve been writing about gained 4 POUNDS today! This is a big victory, so now he weighs 14 pounds. He is still underweight, but at least he is gaining weight. Today, I was informed that UNICEF Guatemala is coming to my site to make a documentary about him. I’m feeling conflicted by this, especially as I have gotten closer to him and his family in the last few months. People in my town have begun to chisme (gossip) about them, saying that his mom is in an abusive relationship and talking poorly about the other kids. I’m hoping this movie will do some good, but I’m feeling severely pessimistic that this is just another way to market off of someone else’s struggles….
- World Cup is awesome and we are making brackets at work! I’m predicting that Chile will win the World Cup #DarkHorse
- I finally have furnished my house! I got my last major item, a dresser for my clothes. I’ve been living out of my suitcases for 2 months, so it’s been a relief to finally have CLOTHES WHERE THEY BELONG 😀 Now, I can save up for vacation. Watching all this World Cup is making me want to go to Brazil ASAP.
- I’ve been getting really into cooking, here are some things I made: