Ismael, Orfe and I generally hold a meeting on Fridays to discuss what happened in the current week and what we plan to do in the following week. It helps us to coordinate schedules and to help each other out if more hands are needed.
Despite the fact that we held our meeting last evening, I was totally taken by surprise with what happened the first two hours this morning, Saturday. I have no idea when Ismael and Orfe and God made all of these arrangements, but all of the following were happening at the same time! Here is the story....
I knew something other than Orfe's regular Saturday morning classes with the local Santa Ana students was happening when I saw all the vehicles at the clinic. I have never seen so many! I could hardly wait to find out what was happening!
This is what I saw on the front porch of the clinic. Mostly men holding what looked like important papers and a group of workers processing the paperwork. The porch and surrounding areas were packed! As some completed their task and left, others came to take their places. The porch was croweded all morning.
Then I noticed a familiar face. This woman had visited our clinic last week when Dr. Anne was here. I spent lots of time talking with her. I told about our projects with SewHope and she told me about her government organization MAGA or Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganaderis y Alimentacion or Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Feeding. Orfe and Ismael have worked with the group before, but they were new to me. I knew our organizations would be great collaborators, each benefitting from the strengths of the other. And so this morning, MAGA used our clinic porch as a meeting place for representatives of various localities to meet regarding some food project.
After an hour and a half or so, MAGA workers arrived with computers and scanners (man in the center of the picture). The paperwork was being processed both manually requiring signatures and with a computer using the scanner. The 8 or so workers were very organized and worked well together as a team.
This is the official paperwork that the village representatives carried. Some of the representatives were more sophisticated and appeared to be more educated than others. Some had the appearance of an elder or village leader who had responsibility because of his life experience among his people in the village.
Ismael took advantage of the crowd to talk about our stoves, solar lights and water filters. The men listened attentively and afterwards many gathered to ask Ismael questions. Many products were sold today and the men will take back this information to their villages. Orfe also posted notice of the medical clinic that will take place for children and all family members next week with Dr. Coral Matus and Dr. Gary Collins and their teams. We should have a big crowd from this word-of-mouth advertisement.
I am getting better at recognizing faces and being able to match faces to names, families and villages. The man in the front with the hat is Carlos who is the leader in El Chal where the Matus family is sponsoring the buidling of a birthing center. It was good to see the men socializing and enjoying one another's company.
While all of this was taking place on the front porch, 3 students from Purushila were cutting the grass in the back of the clinic with machetes. These students and others are part of the scholarship program sponsored by the Matus twins who are sophomores in high school. The students do community service as part of the scholarship program.
Later in the morning, Ismael met one-on-one with the scholarship students to give them a monthly stipend to offset school expenses such as uniforms, transportation, and materials. The students bring their latest report cards or other information from their respective schools to demonstrate their attendance and achievement.
Other good things were happening just down the block on the soccer field. Here Maestro Esbin is organizing races with the students in Orfe's group. Maestro Esbin joined SewHope this week and runs classes by grade on the porch of the clinic from Monday thru Friday. He is an honored teacher and is excellent with the students.
Then, Orfe and Maestro Esbin honored students who ranked first or second in their respective classes and schools. The student stood on a bench, received a prize from Orfe and applause from the group. It was an awesome way to recognzie academic effort and achievement.
This is testimony to Orfe's work with the students. Each student here ranked first or second in their class or school. That is alot of kids!!! Some kids received tennis shoes as a prize, others books or school materials. No one whined about getting one thing and not another. No one attempted to trade with another student. Way to go, Orfe!
As if the list of things I have mentioned so far isn't enough....Carmen, a nurse from Purushila, is checking the blood sugar of each student while Juana writes the information and Ericka does weight measurements. It was run like a professional clinic right out on the soccer field.
This clinic was also available to adults in the neighborhood. Somehow word gets around....FAST and people come. Carmen tested for diabetes, took blood pressure and weight. Those with noted problems were encouraged to come to the clinic to see the doctors next week. The information will be added to the computer charts kept for all patients.
Maestro Esbin sets a wonderful example for the children. Here Carmen is taking blood pressure as Juana writes down the information in a notebook. The other children observe the procedure and ask questions. All of this is happening on the edge of the soccer field near the clinic.
Ericka checking weight of students.
Somehow Orfe and Ismael keep all of this afloat and running smoothly all at the same time. They and SewHope have gained much respect in the community among persons of all generations.
I can't wait to see what happens next!
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012