Journals From Belize:
Tonight as I attempt to settle down to rest I find that writing is my only haven from a situation that feels stifling at best. Despite promises of being put up in a guest house, I have arrived to find that I will be residing my entire stay as a home visitor with a family here in the village. I have graciously been offered my own “bed” and the family seems kind thus far. Still, there are seven of us dormed here in one room that includes bedrooms, kitchen, washroom, and chicken coop. The children, though sweet and excitable, are all sick with cough and fever. Hygiene appears poor at best. I am thinking that if I make it out of here with my health and sanity intact it will be a miracle.
|chicken foraging in the house|
I have work to do here and this situation feels inhibitory. How am I to focus my efforts on improving the quality of health here if I am battling to preserve my own. The chickens come and go throughout the house as they please. I have seen little in the way of hand washing and the kids are constantly sneezing and coughing into their hands. It feels as though every time I move I am bumping into someone or knocking something over. There is little room to manage the abundance of gear that I have along with me and every time I set something down I think about washing it.
What a shift in events this is. There are so many unknowns at this point, so many variables and questions to be answered. The family I am staying with is closely related to the organizer of the home visits here, and I am a bit suspicious of that connection. My family appears much less well off than many of the others I have visited here in Toledo district.
|Belize or Tennessee?|
I can’t help but to be wary that my arrival here may be viewed more as an economic opportunity than as a cultural one. These factors in combination with barriers of culture and language combine to present a very uncertain and vulnerable existence here. I am entirely alone in this place. I have no cell phone with which to contact our organizers. There is no internet, community politics are entirely unknown, and I have been placed well outside my comfort zone. Welcome to expedition medicine.
|The Boyz: Steven, Orlando, Alejandro and Ronaldo|
I suppose these are the types of conditions that I have come here to experience. Were the situation clear, the conditions ideal, there would be no challenge in coming here. These are the factors I must remind myself of as I attempt to find comfort in this new place.
|looking down at Aguacate Village from the house|