Happy Sunday, everyone. For me that means a day to relax, do laundry and other chores, and try to gear up for the week to come (so long as I’m in site and not travelling to Chachapoyas or something like that). Just finished washing my socks, actually – it’s strange to think I’ve been doing some of my laundry by hand for a good year and a half now. I got some good time to think while I was at it, too.
I have such a strange life here. I live in Perú, for one – not a whole lot of United-Statesians can say that. I look out our courtyard in the morning and see fluffy, white clouds’ hanging over the hillside, like mist. I use a phone booth that works by satellite to call the countryside every now and then. (No big deal, right?) I try to convince the people that I’m here to do work with them, and advertise the few classes I have by nailing or taping up posters around town. I’ve done each of those things in the last week or two. Oh, and my schedule hardly ever stays the same. It changes from day to day depending on what needs to get done (which I call the shots on anyways).
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’ll probably never have a situation like this again.
But hey, I have work now! I’ve mentioned it before – I’ll be spending the next 9 months with our Health Center, working with families on water treatment, hand washing, latrines, and other healthy practices in the home. 7 of those months will also go to hand washing with kids in rural schools.
Yesterday I actually felt like I was getting something done. I went up to one of our annexes, Ishpingo, with four ladies from the Health Center. (The people were expecting us – we’d had a meeting with them the week before explaining the project and seeing who wanted to sign up. There’s a picture of that below, snapped by the other Coordinator Leily when it was my turn to talk to everyone.) Our little group of 5 canvassed nearly all the participating homes in the area, seeing the conditions in-house and interviewing the families about their current knowledge of healthy practices in the home. It’s our first round of house visits. I was hoping we’d get to about 15 houses at the most, and I think we talked to about 20 – in both neighborhoods! It was an unexpected surprise. I actually got to speak to very few households on this trip, because I ended up walking 30 minutes uphill to search out the farthest homes in town. But I did find two families to speak to, and got an amazing view of the valley and Leymebamba below.
There are still about 4 to 6 houses to visit before we start up the trainings/ workshops next month – we need to plan for those – and I need to sort through the surveys soon to see if they’re complete. But that’ll all come with time.
It’s really nice, I think, to have something on-task to occupy my time and energy here. I hope it helps the days go by well, and fast, and gives some kind of progression to it all. Otherwise I end up roughly the same, at the end of the day and the end of each week – trying to collect my thoughts on it all, feeling glad it went by well, and trying to hold on to things I enjoy that make life good outside of the work. I feel loneliness with the down time.
Yesterday evening was really nice – before going to bed at about one in the morning (yeah, yeah, sometimes I’m a night owl), I walked out into the courtyard and just took in the night. Slightly cool out; the edges of the hills blurred by clouds; and a full moon shining through, with the sounds of crickets and randomly crowing roosters in the background. It was just still. I can’t wait to get back home to my fiancée in November, but I can still appreciate moments like that. The question crossed my mind, too, if knowing pain helps us appreciate the beauty around us. So many parts of this service are a fight for me – the distance from her; trying to actually do good work; and knowing what to do next and just finding motivation sometimes.
But I don’t doubt the beauty. I get to be around wonderful people, and enjoy their presence with such simple things as passing by each other in the house, or talking in the restaurant each day. And the other Volunteers are great too, for sharing an omelet, stalking endangered species of hummingbirds, or just calling and hanging out.
Yeah. I’ll probably never experience something like this again.