- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: Our New In-Country Directors

Monday, August 02, 2010

Our New In-Country Directors

Robert is no longer able to do all we need to have done as the Director of our projects. He has his own foundation and it needs more of his time.He will stay on to handle the finances. Russ and Marie Nielson have come on as our live-in in country directors. Marie is Guatemalan, but has been living in Utah going to school there. Russ is from the USA. He has been trained as a police officer. Marie is a certified Guatemalan teacher. They have worked with slow learners and are excited about working with us. The picture is on them.
Here is the blog excerpt that Russ wrote when he was in training with Robert last week.

"We left from San Lucas around 11:15 and started the trek to the center. About half way we stopped at a restaurant called “Tikal”. It is a fancy little restaurant along Pan-American Highway #1. After lunch we finished the trip to the center. When we got here, the doors were locked and I couldn’t get in. We called Jose, (the groundskeeper who happens to live 100 yards away from the center) to see if he had keys to the building. He didn’t have any keys, so we had to call Dominga (the cook) who had the keys. She lives in the town of Godinez, which is about 15 minutes away from where we were. She finally got there and unlocked the doors. I was finally able to unload all of my stuff from the back of my grandpa-in-laws SUV so they could leave.

I spent that night alone at the center; it was kind of strange to be sleeping in a new place in the middle of nowhere all alone. The next morning Robert, (the current director) came by around 7:15 and picked me up in a microbus. We had some errands to run in Panajachel and Solola. After our errands Robert showed me some of the sites around Pana.

Panajachel is a quaint little city, where there is the highest population of gringo’s and a place where basically everyone smokes marijuana haha.
We were told by the owner of the center to leave the microbus at the company rented house in pana, so we had to get back the ghetto way haha. What an experience…… the first leg of our almost 25 mile journey without a car was by Tuc Tuc. If you don’t know what a Tuc Tuc is, imagine a 3 wheeled motorcycle with an extra seat over the rear axle; add a little canvas ceiling, a windshield, and 14 year old driving it, and you finally have a Guatemalan style Tuc Tuc.

The next part of our journey was by pickup truck, we were luckily enough not to have to squeeze in the back with the other 20 passengers; we got to squeeze up with the driver in the front cab of the LITTLE tiny pickup truck. We finally got to a part of the trip called the durangee, It is a place where a giant mudslide has wiped out the road. The only way across the durangee is by foot. It is about a 400 yard section of thick sloppy Mud, that if you take even 1 misstep you’re going to sink to your hips in the nasty sludge.

We made it across the durangee without any major incidents minus a near miss with me, where I got mud up to my knee lol. After the durangee, we caught a microbus, which was literally packed with 24 people in the back of it. I had to ride standing up in the doorway with my butt sticking out in the rain for almost 15 minutes, before someone finally got out and I was able to actually get all of the way into the vehicle. We finally made it to Godinez, which like I said before is still like 15 minutes away. We got out of the microbus, and caught another Tuc Tuc back to the community center. We finally got back to the center at around 12:15.

When I finally got back to the center, I was able to check my cell phone which had been ringing off the hook. I had 4 missed calls from Marie, and when I finally returned the call I got some of the most stressful information of the week. She had been to the doctor that morning, and they did a new ultrasound, and her ovaries are on the verge of exploding. The doctor rescheduled the surgery for Tuesday at 1:00 PM.

As we were pulling in there was a whole host of kids entering the property for the afterschool feeding/study program that is free to any kids in the community. We had a delicious lunch that was prepared by Dominga, and then it was time for the study program. There is a teacher named Gil who runs the study program, Gil maybe 20 years old, and is a fantastic teacher from what I can tell. He can keep the attention of almost 45 little kids for almost an hour and a half while he helps teach them hygiene practices, manors, and helps them with homework. After the study program the kids play soccer for another hour before finally going to their homes.

Later that night, around 5:00 PM 2 volunteers showed up who had been in Antigua for the weekend. They are boyfriend/girlfriend, and about 25-26 years old. Mayra is the girl, she is from Lebanon, and is studying at a university in New York. The boyfriend’s name I can’t remember, however he grew up in Boston, and is recently graduated from college. They aren’t the most social people on earth, but it nice to be able to have a full conversation in English. (I can have full conversations in English with Marie, but it is nice to meet someone new and not need translation.) It had been a LONG day, and I fell asleep around 8:30 PM.

The next morning when I woke up Dominga had a delicious salsa covered ham and cheese omelet, with a big bowl of oatmeal waiting for me. After breakfast we began to prepare for a large group of moms, children, and pregnant women to arrive. Every Tuesday we offer basic parenting classes, and everyone who attends gets vitamins, and a free lunch. The kids they brought with them seemed to be starved. They ate their rice and Beef Stew with such vigor, that I honestly think that it is one of the only meals they would get today, and easily the best meal they will get all week. All of the pregnant women get a week’s supply of prenatal vitamins and 8 eggs a piece. Everyone else gets a single vitamin, and the free lunch, but no eggs.

It was really depressing, some of the moms that came were only children (literally) there were 3 or 4 that seemed to be no older than 13 or 14 years old. It was sad to see a pregnant 14 year old with 2 babies already. In the some of the Mayan cultures as soon as a girl gets her first period, she is considered a woman and is eligible to be married (most of the time to someone 2-3 times her age.) I don’t think I will ever understand some of the cultural changes here in this country. "

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