Journals From Belize: 2-9-12 evening
There is nothing left to do but play checkers. Play checkers, pay Luis and finalize plans with Hilaria to construct a chalkboard. It’s hard to believe the trip is ending. I am reluctant to go. I have on several occasions had to choke back tears. They come on randomly at times and for no particular reason. Never the less, I am beginning to long for home and for the loved ones who await…I hope. I have remained totally secluded over this past week and I know that somewhere out there life rambles on.
It has been a relief to remain internet free. I have not set foot in a moving vehicle for five or more days, and I have missed neither. My travel throughout the village has been exclusively on foot. When I walk about the village this primitive form of transport allows for interaction unavailable when traveling by car. Frequently I will stop to converse with the villagers. My meetings are pleasant and further more allow me to gain a greater understanding of the lives of people here. If I were in a car, I would just zoom past never knowing.
I have actually begun to resent cars a bit. Now a day when the bus passes or a motorbike starts up I am acutely aware of its presence. It interrupts more prevailing noises like the singing of birds, the voices of children, and yes, the sound of the chickens. These sounds represent the true voice of the village. One day while walking to Hilaria’s I passed a man cutting down the grass with his machete. The sound of his blade whooshing through the air addressing the grass without interruption from combustion created a symphony of simplicity I will not soon forget. I have not missed the sound of engines. Not at all.
Today Hilaria, Theresa and I made presentations to the school children. The event provided a cohesive moment I had been hoping to attain. As we approached the door of the schoolhouse Hilaria and Theresa both paused as if waiting for me to enter before them. I hesitated and insisted they go first. It dawned on me at that moment how much I had taken for granted the allowances of my role as a male. Gender to me is not the barrier it is to Hilaria and Theresa. With some encouragement on my behalf they strode forward and never looked back. Little steps. Often the solution is simple.
I took the lead initially, enthusiastically warming up the crowd. However, once set in motion Hilaria took over the presentation switching back and forth between English and K’iche’ as she explained the essential components of proper hygiene. It was a proud moment. The goal of this project has been from the start to support the Mayan Health Workers in a manner that allows them to do this level of work on their own. Foreign volunteers will come and go, but the Mayans will always be here. They are an ancient people and their survival is closely knit to their endless dedication to each other.
|Alejandro at work|
|Making boards for the school|
|Building the new school kitchen|
By our third presentation I sat to the side of the classroom resting on the window sill. Behind the open window another group of children played soccer while inside Hilaria fielded questions from the crowd like a seasoned educator. My only final contribution was to say thank you as we walked out. I am convinced that if delivered by me, our message would have been lost. As much as I want to affect change, as much as I want to generate progress and hope, I know my role is limited. I know deep down that all we can do in our short time in the villages is support the health workers as they push forward to serve their communities. We can not force change no matter how much we want to. Money alone will never be enough to fix the types of complex issues that exist here....
....to be continued.
|Alejandro and "Rich" look over the fields|
on my last day in Aguacate