Sr. Pamela Marie Buganski
“God is always talking to me when I am in Guatemala.”
Orfe and I spent some time yesterday with baby Esmeralda. This little girl is 21 months old and weighs only 12 pounds. In the many hours that we were with her, she only cried when the doctors tried to put in an IV. Somehow she can stand by herself and take a few steps. Mostly, however, she is held.
Right now baby Esmeralda is in the general hospital in San Benito. She has an ear infection. Once this is better, Esmeralda will join 10 other little ones in the Centro de Recuperacion Nutricional about an hour from where we live. This is a 30 bed center established and run by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincente de Paul. There are three Sisters in this location, one of whom is the director. They have established multiple hospitals and other such centers throughout Central America. They do a marvelous work.
The center is located on an out-of-the-way dirt road. It is a haven in the midst of poverty. It is exceedingly simple yet well designed and sufficient to serve its purpose with great care. We visited at lunch time. There were several care givers feeding the little ones who were gathered in a group. Though they are without their families for several months, the babies seem content. Some will be released to their families soon. Others are not able to hold up their heads on their own as of yet. It is clear that each one is loved.
Orfe held the littlest one there and cried.
Please keep all of these little ones, especially Esmeralda, in your prayers. Abandoned by her birth mother, poor relatives took her in. She needs lots of prayers. Thank you!
In an earlier blog, I promised you some pictures of the extension on Ismael and Orfe's house in Santa Ana. The first part of the house was put up within the past 2.5 years. The original part was about the size of a decent living room. Then a front porch was added. Most activity of the day takes place on the front porch. Then a bathroom was added with a toilet and running water! Now the addition doubles the size of the house and porch. Ismael has really used his creativity in the design and features! The land on which the house sits was purchased by Orfe when she was a teenager. Talk about foresight! What a rare thing for a teenager to have the ability and determination to make such a purchase! Other parts of the yard are used for the chicken run and the gardens.
Since early January 2013, Peter and I have lived in various locations. The latest place was in the house of Ismael and Orfe in Santa Ana. For the past 6 weeks, this house has been under extensive renovations to double the size of the house. It is coming along beautifully. I continue to be amazed at how much manual labor it takes to build anything in Guatemala. Perhaps tomorrow I will give an update on the house.
Today I thought I would post some pictures of my single room apartment in Santa Ana. Peter has the room next door. We may be in the only apartment building in Santa Ana. At least I am not familiar with another. All things considered, it is a nice place. There are about 18 rooms, and I believe that most of them are occupied. We are meeting our neighbors one by one.
We are located on the second floor of the building which is located along a main highway. These two attributes give me a sense of safety and security. Our landlord is a nice man and the neighbors are friendly. Someone is always around.
The water seems to run on its own schedule, which is not 24-7. So, I keep a supply of water on hand in a bucket in case I need a shower and no water is available through the usual means! We also have to go downstairs to the pila to do laundry and to wash dishes since there is no sink for such things in the room. It is just a matter of being organized.
Most of my room is held together with string....or at least that is the way that it appears! I use string to hang the mosquito net at night, string for a clothesline, string to hold the hammock in place, string to hang shelving over the top of walls, and string to give the shower head some tilt so the water actually falls on me!
The electricity flickers at least once per day, but it is pretty steady. Considering that I only have one plug with two sockets for everything that runs in the room, I am grateful. Such things would include: refrigerator, hot plate, computer charger, phone charger, Nook charger, camera charger, sleep machine, clock, and lamp.
There are varying degrees of noise around the place, but I am used to ignoring noise, so I am not bothered. Though on Saturday night, there was a person who could crow like a real rooster, and he practiced loudly at the beginning of each new song played on the radio at the bar/restaurant across the street!
Okay enjoy the pictures!
If you have been keeping up with the blog, you will know that I started computer classes with the 10 groups of students from grades 1-6 about four weeks ago. We have been making steady progress in learning the basic hand and finger movements of computers, locating the alphabet and numbers and other special keys on the keyboard, and following directions to get through a maze of programs.
Since my role is that of director and not teacher, one of my goals is to introduce the teachers to the programs so that they are able to lead their own classes in games that match their own curricula. Games and exercises that are appropriate for first graders may not be the best for sixth graders and vice versa. The teachers have become basically familiar with the GCompris program because they are present with their class for the instruction time. But watching is always different from doing!
So today the 10 teachers as well as the director of the primary school in Purushila, along with Ismael, Orfe, Peter and Maricruz did some hands-on work with the computers. The GCompris program consists of over 125 games. I decided that the most efficient means of trying to introduce the games to this audience was to supply an outline of the programs and to have the teachers practice each game and write on their outlines anything that would help them in the future to use the game for their age group. Basically,the teachers were writing down how to play each game, the skills it reinforces, as well as when each might I use it with their class. We spent less than five minutes per game and got through about one-fourth of the games.
In addition, as any computer teacher knows, you have to understand how to get through the glitches that occur when students are randomly touching keys. So we started with the basics for the computer and the projector. Everytime a teacher encountered a problem, we talked about how to get around that problem. Hopefully, the teachers will then be comfortable in troubleshooting when various problems occur when they are teaching the class.
We hope to spend more time together to get through the entire outline. Then perhaps we can have a class where the teachers discuss how they plan to use the various programs in their classes and to share ideas.
Right now the three schools in Purushila are sharing the same set of computers. This involves walking computers from one school to the next according to scheduled classes. My hope is that we will bring 30 more computers to Purushila allowing more than one group of students to use computers at the same time. This will also allow us to store computers in both school buildings giving wider access. Then the teachers in the primary school (and telesecondary school) would be able to schedule a time when their class can go to a computer lab and practice a particular skill any time of the school day.
And the progress continues!
Today is Mother's Day in Guatemala. This day of celebration always occurs on May 10. Well, actually, that is not totally true. It seems as though the real day is May 10, but preparations for the event begin weeks in advance!
I can think of no place where mothers are worthy of such celebration! Day in and day out, their lives revolve around their children and the work of the home including cooking, washing, bathing, cleaning...all with their hands. We often hear that it is the women that will lead communities out of poverty. That is clearly visible here. They have a deep hope for the future of their children and their community.
The kindergarten in Purushila has a special gift for gathering and teaching not only the children but also the mothers. Every day mothers are on sight doing all sorts of service. Each day a team of mother's cook lunch for the children, some come to water the garden or reap the produce to be used in the school lunch or for another community lunch program. Some come to clean the yard or paint the fence. Some come to watch the progress of their children or to celebrate birthdays. It is a welcoming place for the women.
I particularly enjoyed watching the women enjoy themselves as they prepared for the grand Mother's Day celebration held at the kindergarten. For several days, young mothers came to practice some simple dances to be performed for their audience of other mothers and children. The women are shy by nature and dancing in front of the others was a leap! But to see their excitment and to hear their laughter in this simple pleasure was delightful!
The teachers at the school began three weeks ago to make decorations and to petition at businesses for simple gifts to be given away to the mothers. That seems to be the common practice here. They did their best to make this a BIG DEAL! A band came, clowns came, Queen mothers were chosen, caters served a delicious meal and gifts were given. The women were called up in groups of four or five to answer a simple quiz show question and to receive a prize. My favorite part was that each woman was given an opportunity to speak to the group from the microphone. What a wonderful way to practice empowerment in a safe place and to learn to hear and listen to their own voice.
During the meal, the women viewed a short video about a woman with no arms. This woman used her feet for everything. The woman was perhaps a sign of hope, a sign that all things are possible with a bit of determination and faith in God.
There are multiple celebrations in the municipality and particularly in the schools. Thursday was the day that the kindergarten celebrated, today the primary school celebrates and Sunday the telesecondary school students celebrate their mothers. Enjoy the pictures of this great day! And HAPPY MOTHER's DAY to ALL!
Dr. Anne Ruch and her team consisting of Linda and Anita left for United States this morning. As usual, Anne and team were able to accomplish many things, thanks be to God! Among them were 5 days of medical clinics: two days in Santa Ana, two days in Sayaxche and one day in La Libertad. These clinics were particularly for women. Though many women come when the word gets out that a team is in town, Anne and her team take time with each woman. No assembly lines here! Thank you, team!
I've adjusted my schedule to spend more time each afternoon in Purushila. I decided to add some focus to the first graders. I invited four of the almost 60 of them for the first week. Though I have never taught first graders before, I am able to manage with only four of them for 90 minutes!!! My idea is not to repeat what they receive in class or to use computers. Rather, my hope is to be able to use some manipulatives and educational games to build thinking skills and sensory motor skills. Since the children have so few manipulatives in the classroom, my hope is to reinforce their classroom progress with additional practice and games.
So, I have four little seven-year-olds...and we are having some fun! Each day I attempt to introduce or repeat 3-5 games or activities. On the first day, we copied shapes with colored blocks and built towers and made alphabet letters. Then we drew with chalk and played hop-scotch, and finally we worked together on separating pieces and then completing a 48 piece puzzle. Yesterday the children identified and spelled simple words with plastic alphabet letters. Then we played follow the leader (in case you were interested, it takes a whole lot more energy than I have to hop like a bunny!). The children colored pictures. I read a simple story about a dog and his shadow, and we went outside to play with our shadows! And once again worked together on a 48-piece puzzle. My hope today is to begin learning the card game of crazy eights! Feel free to send me any simple education ideas for these children!!!
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012