Charlotte Newell Guatemala Diary -- Day 5
Today I was supposed to meet the president at 8am to go to the fields to take pictures of some of the campesinos working since I only got pictures of people (mostly women) doing domestic work the day before. Of course he was late, which was expected. He apologized a lot since he was an hour and a half late, but it wasn't a big deal. So we went to the field and I took some pictures and video and it was great. We also spent a lot of time talking about the projects he wants to work on in the village. I have no idea if any of these projects are ones that we would end up funding when we have a site coordinator here, but getting information from the president is never a bad start.
1. Fix the road up to San Pedro. Like I said before, the road is terrible and sometimes can't even be used during the rainy season. Since they don't have a doctor in San Pedro, if people can't get up and down for a reasonable price, then they can't get treatment and it's an understatement to say that really sucks.
2. Fix the medical center (the hall they were cleaning out when I got there and they thought I was a doctor) and get some doctors so people don't have to go down the mountain to get treatment.
4. Stoves that don't smoke as much – like I wrote yesterday, they're really hard to deal with for long periods of time. And as one lady in San Pedro pointed out to me: they're terrible for your lungs. Everyone seemed in agreement that they wanted better stoves, which was cool. Apparently the president was in Antigua the day I arrived talking to an NGO (I forget which one. Oops.) about getting funding to buy better stoves.
5. Remodel the school and make it bigger. At the moment, they only have the equivalent of an elementary or primary school, and if a child wants to pursue further education, they have to walk down the mountain every day and go to Amatitlán, which is quite a trek and not at all ideal.
Of course there are likely other projects that people in the community can come up with to address other needs and that's one of the things that was most exciting about this trip. I learned a teeny tiny bit about life in San Pedro. Not nearly enough to know anything about which projects would be most beneficial in the long term, but enough to know that someone can and will. That's all I have left to say about my trip aside from a big thank you to John Heers and Ryan Jobe for making it possible. It was a fantastic experience that I hope to one day repeat on a longer time scale.
Leaving Whitman's highway opens up a whole new world full of small bumpy roads and long hikes down a mountain. Leaving the highway allowed me to find experiences that I never would've had on the highway. More than that, it allowed me to get to know people in Guatemala I never would’ve met otherwise and to gain an understanding of their life that went beyond the superficial expectations most westerners have.