Day 4 - Tuesday April 12
Carmen prepared a wonderful pancake breakfast for us this morning with hard boiled eggs – a great way to start our busy day!
We went to Parrojas School in a remote village up top of a volcano this morning, where the roads were really rough, washed out and vertical. At the top where the school is located we divided the team into four groups:
Parachute – Brian and Doug
Crafts – Suzanne, Kelly and Dianne
Science – Cathy, Lauren, Diane and Juli
Brian and Doug taught the parachute and relay games to 8 groups of children. After the fourth group we were exhausted from giving sign language using our newly created language called Spanglish for the instructions of the games. Lots of smiles and laughter from the children who enjoyed some physical activity, which was a break from their studies.
Today’s soccer yielded a different outcome than yesterday. We had 6 groups to play soccer today and again we used white and blue jerseys donated by Woodbridge Soccer Club. This soccer field was concrete and doubled as a basketball court. Surrounding the court were all the classrooms. We started with the kindergarten class and to our surprise we had to educate on how to play soccer. There were a lot of mano’s (hands) being used. After the kindergarteners we had the next 3 grades and everything went smoothly. Then we had the oldest boy’s in the next group. They needed no instruction and did not want to use a player as the portero (goalie) because they all wanted to score. With 3 minutes left in the game the ball was deflected and landed on the roof of the school. One of the players scaled a 12ft cement pillar to get on the roof to retrieve the pilotez (ball). The game continued to completion. The last group began and quickly again through a deflection we lost the ball on the roof. Unfortunately we could not retrieve this ball and that ended our soccer game. Before leaving the school we donated the jerseys and other sports equipment and once again were unable to donate the ball as it was not retrievable.
The children were rotated through the craft activity in small groups of 10-15. Once again it was explained that the beads were created from recycled plastic and wallpaper by children from Canada with love for the children of Guatemala. We introduced ourselves by name and as Kelly introduced himself the kids started to chuckle as they knew Kelly as a girls name. They strung their beads with pride and when completed, each child was sure to say Gracias. One small boy told Suzanne his dad was in Canada and she promised to take love back to him in the way of a hug. We don’t have a clue how Suzanne is going to find him as there was no address provided. He lit up with the biggest smile when Suzanne committed to this action.
We offered a Dinosaur Dig again at Parrojas, and the children loved learning about fossils, dinosaurs, identification and creating their own fossil. We found our Spanish improving as we carried on today, with one interpreter for 3 stations, we used rudimentary Spanish to instruct the kids to match the dinosaurs to the skeletons and how to create their own dinosaur rub drawing. Again, the kids giggled away with the fossilized Dino Poop! We really struggled with the kindergarten kids, who can’t yet spell their names to “escribe tu nombre” so we found ourselves having to interpret and guess their names which are not common to our language – names like Fernando, Angelis, Marta, Hector, Feliz…and when J’s sound like H’s and H’s are silent it was a real challenge to get their names right – we had a lot of laughs trying to figure it out! It was so rewarding to offer this science program at this remote village as they have never had a program like this before. The teachers participated with us and really enjoyed the experience and were so thankful for us to be there!
At 11:00 am parents of the students arrived to meet with their child’s teacher to receive a verbal report card update. The descriptive feedback from teachers is communicated orally to parents (predominantly the fathers) because many of the parents are non-readers and writers.
We journeyed back down the volcano to have lunch with Carmen – chicken salad sandwiches and fruit. We had a little extra time for a siesta today before the afternoon projects began. Once we regrouped, we broke into three teams:
Build a Stove Program – Brian, Doug and Dianne
Knitting Co-op – Diane, Suzanne, Juli
Harvesting the Garden – Tim, Kelly, Lauren and Cathy
Build a Stove Program
The stove crew arrived in La Hermita ready to “build a stove” for a family in need. Our vehicle stopped at the top of the mountain and we unloaded our supplies and proceeded to walk 1KM down a hill that was steeper than Lakeridge ski slope. The momma of the corn stalk house was Maria and her three children welcomed us into their yard and were delighted that we were going to build a stove for her family. We started sifting dirt to gather the finest grains of sand and this was mixed into cement and 22 cinder blocks were used to create the stove base. Angel our mason, informed us he needed 140lbs of ash to fill the bottom of the stove kit. We looked around and no ash in sight. Then the 4ft momma grabbed 4 bags and led her kids back up the 1km slope. We followed not knowing where we were going. She took us through LaHermita village and another km to the ash pit. We loaded the bags and then it hit us. We had to carry them back 2 KM back to the home where the stove was being built. Brian shoveled ash into the bag and host momma lifted her bag and said “mas”. Then added another couple of shovel loads weighing 40lbs total. She then lifted the bag on her head and started back to her home. Dianne Pelletier said “while in Rome do as the Romans do” so she lifted her bag to her head and followed momma like a BOSS. The 4yr old son took the 20lb bag and Brian took the other 40lb bag. Back 2 km with our bags of ash to fill our stove base. Angel and Doug were cementing the cinder blocks together. Mom was there busy making tortillas and corn chowder stew for their dinner over an open flame and a pan. She used the same corn that was used to feed the chickens earlier. This dinner smelled delicious. Inside the cinder block frame with ash on the bottom layer, heat bricks were cemented in a rectangular shape and the 3 hole stove top was installed. After 3 hours our job was almost complete and then we proceed back up the slope to wait for our vehicle. We found time to play with the children and the boys liked their new RP Oil hats and the little girl hugged and continually hugged her new little teddy bear (created and donated by Eunice Rahm).
Today’s knitting took place on the balcony of the “Center of Hope” building. There was a nice breeze. The Canadians found this great although they were sweating. The Guatemalan’s found this to be challenging as they needed to put on sweaters as it was too cold for them at 34C. We had 6 ladies show up which will create the new knitting co-op in Parramos. The project was to create 8” squares with the final assembly being a blanket made of 48 squares. None of the ladies had any experience with knitting yet were quick to learn (just like Pierette’s knitting club). The language barrier was a challenge at times but we were fortunate to have a translator which also had some challenges translating the knitting terms. The first 90 minutes was spent learning to cast-on and the knit-stitch. The remaining time was working on piecing the completed squares into rows. The next class in 2 days will be spent completing the assembly to finish the blanket. All the ladies left with their knitting kit consisting of a set of needles and 2 balls of yarn. With this new skill they will be able to create their own blanket which can be used to keep them warm at 34C temperatures.
Harvesting the Garden
We headed out to the field after lunch and were instructed to pick onions. It was a very hot afternoon at 34C however this didn’t stop us from picking 2 burlap bags full of onions. After the onions, the four of us started pulling broccoli that had already gone to flower. This was followed by chilli’s that had also gone to flower. At this point in time we realized that we were essentially clearing the field of all past vegetables and weeds. We cleared the 1 (20) acre field and at the end realized that there was one section that wasn’t completed which had leeks and beets. We picked these and placed them into a pail. This was a dusty and hot environment but we managed to get through it. Lauren managed to find obsidian in the field as well as pumice. If you don’t know what that is then look it up. Since we were expedient in our task we were then asked to move a pile of sand that had been used to create concrete. We moved the pile 4ft of which we still don’t know why. After completion we all proceeded quickly to the showers to get ready for dinner.
At the end of the day when we arrived back to our casa we were surprised to see Carmen knitting – Diane had taught her earlier in the afternoon and she picked it up really quickly! She prepared us a wonderful meal of BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and onions from the garden, and a salad.
To end the day, Suzanne and Diane found themselves preparing for the second sewing workshop planned for tomorrow, and the rest of us worked at setting up the programs for tomorrow and preparing this blog. Thanks to Mynor we are prepared tonight with rat and mouse traps (big enough to catch a dog) for our casa…the mouse sega continues here as Tim protected the team in the middle of the night with his flip flop…but the creatures keep coming! Mostly because the walls are “breathable”, a typical Guatemalan build, and we are surrounded by farm fields. It certainly is making for humorous evening entertainment!
See you tomorrow!