Sr. Pamela Marie Buganski
“God is always talking to me when I am in Guatemala.”
I am sitting down to write my blog at the end of another full day. It is raining outside. I am listening to its sound on the tin roof above my head. My favorite music.
As is so common here, tons of things happened today. I can't decide which one to pick, so I will share them all!
I spent my day in Purushila at the primary school. On Thursdays, the students from 5 classes come in to the computer lab and their teachers direct them. Today I was most impressed with the third grade teacher. She has 28 students (way more than anyone else) in her class. She had perfect order. She had the children working with clocks. This was a skill that they were studying in class. It was not an easy task for the children, but they stuck with it. What a great use of the computers!
While this was going on, I invited two young ladies who are sisters, to help me with eye tests for the children. Carmen, the nurse, and Fidelia were excellent. They listened to directions and improved their procedure with each student. Fidelia even entered the results in a spreadsheet that I had prepared in my computer. She had learned about spreadsheets in our telesecondary computer class, and she was quite confident with it. I was thrilled that she could see this tool in a real world use. They tested older kids first and then the second graders were next. I prepped them for some extra care that the little ones might need. It was so fun to see the two young ladies smile and enjoy the loud voices of the children yelling out the letters over the noise of the computers in the background.
I had been meaning to stop in to see how feeding the primary students works. Today was my very first chance to do this. I learned that three different mothers come each day to the little shack that serves as the kitchen to prepare atoll, a hot corn drink that tastes very good. On Mondays and Thursday, Maricruz also comes to the school to prepare the Kids Against Hunger rice with vegetables for the children. It takes 20 bags of KAH! The children each bring their own cup for the atoll and a bowl for the KAH food. Unfortunately, since they have no forks, they are using their dirty fingers to eat the rice. (We need to work on that!). The children were very organized as they lined up at the kitchen and the women served the food. Kevin, the director, was also present as a director would be at this time.
In the afternoon, I supervise what I call "organized play" in the computer classroom. Generally the same 24 kids of various ages come each day. Today we played Bingo as a whole group. They caught on and liked the game and actually listened to the numbers being called! It was a great game for learning and practicing numbers. Then they broke off into groups or in singles to work on other things. Today was the first day that several of the students chose to do a puzzle alone. I was very impressed! They each had a different approach, but the same deep concentration. Today the girls worked with the gears and really got into it. Each game or activity costs between $2-$5 at a local store that is like a Goodwill.
From early on, one of the goals of SewHope is to create and identify models. Models of gardening, models of industry, models of teaching, models of healthy living. SewHope's role is to offer encouragement, share knowledge, and sometimes assist with resources. The goal is for the Guatemalan people to create and share examples of best practices with each other.
Somehow this is beginning to happen. Each day feels like one step forward and two steps backward, and yet, with God, we end up miles ahead.
Ismael and Orfe are greatly responsible for the advancement of the models and for bringing other Guatemalans to see what is happening with SewHope's work.
Models of gardening. SewHope's first model was the garden at Ismael's house. Ismael brought many of the telesecondary students to visit his house and his gardens. Now the telesecondary students are growing their own garden. And what a model it is! And then there are the gardens at the kindergarten which are being prepared by the mothers of the students. Rudy's Stove Project includes gardens at the homes in Purushila. And then there are the 50 plus gardens in the homes in Mango!!!!!!
Model fish farm. Hanssel and Ismael have a fish pond behind their house. Sergio took note of it when visiting with the telesecondary students. He went home and made a fish farm for himself.
Models of teaching. Unfortunately I do not have pictures of two groups that have visited the kindergarten in Purushila. One group consisted of a class of six-year olds and their teacher from the Escuela Municipal Rural Mixta Barrio El Triunfo in Santa Ana. Other teachers from the school also came. The group was able to observe the computers, water filters, tippy tap, and gardens. The El Triunfo school has already started to imitate what they saw. A second group also visited. To me such visits are the ultimate excitement!
Models of healthy living. To me the best examplse of this comes from the participants in the Stove Project being conducted by Rudy in Purushila. The project consists of four parts: making a tippy tap for the latrine, purchasing and using a water filter for drinking, purchasing and using a wood efficient stove with stove pipe, and making a garden. Ten families have already committed to the program. Once these are completed, there are already 9 more families in the village waiting to participate.
Despite the best of efforts of many persons, we still have not been able to get a strong enough internet signal in Purushila. Our hope was that with the internet, the students of all ages could see pictures, read, do research, see examples, etc. of the things that they are studying. We have not given up!
Today we had a minor victory. Dr. Anne had the idea that we could use a camera to video a YouTube presentation as it played on a computer with internet access, then upload the video from the camera to a computer, save the video on a flashdrive and upload it to the Dell computers, save the video to the Dell computers and show them without needing internet. This is the simplified version of hours of work by a non-tech person! My hope is to show a video of the Spanish alphabet with one of the six-year olds tomorrow. Thank you, Anne!
Lots of wonderful things happened today. Ismael and Orfe were in Mango with the women working with food. Ismael then went to El Chal where work was being done on the floor of the birthing center. Orfe found herself with a group of women and children in Purushia in the afternoon, and I was with students in Purushila most of the day as well.
Here are a few shots of the students in the afternoon extracurricular class. Enjoy!
"Now there was a woman who had suffered from a hemorhage for twelve years....She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak....Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' His disciples said to him, 'You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" (Mark 5:25-34)
Now there was a young girl in the village of Purushila. She was suffering because one day months ago when she woke up in the morning, she found that her mother had abandoned her and had gone to a far away country. It seemed that her heart was always bleeding. One day while a large group of children was huddled together discovering puzzles, the young girl was among them. Sr. Pam was in the middle of the huddle with children touching her and leaning on her from every side. The young girl took hold of and held on to Sr. Pam's little finger. Aware that the young girl was gripping her finger, Sr. Pam hoped that a sense of security and understanding flowed out to the heart of the lonely and frightened young girl.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, each One of us is part of the 99.
Ninety-nine percent of the time it is NOT all about me (literally).
Jesus said: "What man among you with a hundred sheep, losing one, would not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the missing one till he found it?" (Luke 15:4)
Jesus gives full attention to the One.
Some of the Ones:
--The woman with the hemorrhage. (Mark 5:21-34)
--The daughter of Jairus. (Mark 5:35-43)
--The healing of the deaf man. (Mark 7:31-37)
--The cure of the blind man at Bethsaida. (Mark 8:22-26)
--The cure of Simon's mother-in-law. (Mark 1:29-31)
--Cure of a leper. (Mark 1:40-45)
--Jesus cures a demoniac. (Mark 1:21-28)
--Cure of a paralytic. (Mark 2: 1-12)
Jesus continues: "And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on
his shoulders..." (Luke 15:5)
During these times, Jesus is NOT paying attention to the ninety-nine.
Lots of the time the gospels share the grumbling of the ninety-nine. Jesus is not paying attention to them. They are jealous. They are not the focus. They are being over-looked. What about me? I think that the gospels sometimes share and sometimes leave out the conversations among the ninety-nine. For example:
--"The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying: "'Beelzebul is in him,' and, 'It is through the prince of devils that he casts devils out.'" (Mark 3:22)
--"They began to implore Jesus to leave the neighborhood." (Mark 5:17)
--"What authority have you for acting like this?" (Mark 11:28)
--"And they would have liked to arrest him, because they realized that the parable was aimed at them..." (Mark 12:12)
--Peter, James and John were with Jesus at the time of the transfiguration. (Mark 9:2-8) What was the conversation of the apostles who were left behind?
--"'What about us,' Peter asked him. 'We have left everything and followed you.' (Mark 10: 28-31)
--Vying to be the One, James and John ask Jesus: "Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left." (Mark 10:35-40)
--"'Why waste this ointment?'...and they were angry with her. But Jesus said, 'Leave her alone. Why are you upsetting her?'" (Mark 14:3-9)
--"...he appeared first to Mary of Magdala...But they did not believe her..." (Mark 16:9-11)
Jesus continues: "...and then when he got home, call together his friends and neighbors? 'Rejoice with me,' he would say 'I have found my sheep that was lost.'" (Luke 15:6-7)
Even Jesus could only focus on One at a time. We are no greater than the Master.
Whenever we make a choice for the One, we are not choosing the ninety-nine. Only Jose received a new pair of legs and there are plenty of others who need them.
Jesus did not allow the grumbling or misunderstanding or jealously of the ninety-nine to distract him from the One or to discourage him or to give up.
Jesus asks only that we REJOICE with this One and that One.
--How do I respond when I am among the ninety-nine?
--When have I singled out One instead of passing by or making an excuse that I just don't have enough _______ (fill in the blank) for the ninety-nine?
--Many of the poor live on $1 a day (literally). May others live on $99 a day (or more) (literally). Add it up. What is the cost for you to have food, shelter, water, electricity, clothing, school....for a day. Clearly, we are among the ninety-nine.
Jody came with Dr. Anne for a five day visit. While Dr. Anne was busy catching up on the various SewHope projects and conducting 2.5 days of clinics in Santa Ana, Jody and I were up to other things.
Jody can certainly claim to having many REAL experiences of Guatemala while she was here. And that was deliberate! (We are usually much nicer to our guests.)
Here are some crazy but NORMAL things that happened:
--There was a storm and the electricity went out for 19 hours.
--There was a storm and the rain came into her apartment and onto her bed.
--Lyla the dog jumped on Jody with muddy paws.
--Jody taught or assisted with the 24 afternoon students in Purushila.
--On Friday we drove all the way to Purushila for the afternoon class to discover that the teacher who had the key to our classroom did not come for class. The students were sent back home.
--Jody washed her clothes by hand in the pila outside. And hung them to dry. And then it rained.
--Jody washed dishes in the pila outside.
--Jody stayed in a small apartment by herself.
--Jody experienced the lack of water in the apartment in the morning which meant no morning shower.
--Jody and I worked on a crazy mapping project.
--Jody met a tarantula with us in a yard when we were visiting a garden.
--Jody got to stomp on lots of ants that had invaded her apartment.
--Jody got to endure the horrible heat of Guatemala. She was SOAKED most days.
Jody survived and may even come back for more!
Thank you Jody for your presence here with the people of Guatemala. I am especially grateful for your AWESOME work on the map of Purushila! Sa
Though adult classes have been going on in Purushila for about 8 months, I just discovered them! What a find! (I continue to wonder what else is going on right under my nose!!! I'm thinking LOTS!)
It seems that a woman who lives in the village of Purushila is a teacher. She is paid by the government Q700 per month (about $80) per month to teach classes six days a week.
Classes are held for 4 adult students on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:00 to 5:30. Classes are held in a small classroom in the primary school which is occupied by traditional students during the day. These four students are attempting to complete the equivalent of sixth grade. If they are successful, they will receive a certificate for having achieved that level of education. The certificate is very meaningful in this culture.
The four students consist of two women with children and two young men about the age of 17. The women are especially serious about completing this course. One of the women is Mari Cruz. Mari Cruz has four children and a husband in Purushila. Her second daughter is in our equivalent of 7th grade across the yard of the same school while her mother is in class in grade 6. The elder daughter graduated from grade 9 with a certificate (grade 9 is the next level where a certificate is given) last year and now attends classes in Santa Ana on Saturday and Sunday for the next level of education. The two younger children are boys in the primary school. Mari Cruz also assists by cooking a lunch in the primary school two days a week. She also provides a noon Kids Against Hunger meal in her yard for the children and pregnant women of the village a few times a week. The other woman has one child.
On Thursday, Friday and Sunday, the teacher has 10 more students. These students are in mixed grades between grade 1 and 5. Unfortunately, because of many other commitments, these students are not as regular in attendance as the others. Yesterday, none of the 10 showed up. (I was hoping to see what they do and if I could assist.) I am thinking that some of the future microfinance projects may provide some services such as a washing or babysitting service that would allow the adults to attend class more regularly. Time will tell.
Last week Rudy took me around to see five families who were participating in the Stove Project. This was a great way to get to know more about the families as well. In this way I met Carmen and learned that she was studying to be a nurse and has already completed one level in the nursing program.
We set it up so that Carmen would come to the clinic in Santa Ana and assist Dr. Anne Ruch. Today was Carmen's first day. She was AWESOME! Carmen didn't even know that there was such a thing as a pelvic exam or an ultrasound machine, but she assisted with these exams all day. In addition, Carmen is learning how to use the new computer program that the doctors of SewHope are just beginning to use to collect patient data. Carmen was going home tonight with lots of stories, and she is eager to assist again tomorrow.
When I drove Carmen home, I learned a bit about her. She is 21 years old. She and her family have lived in Purushila for 13 years. Before that they lived in Poptun which is about 90 minutes southeast of Santa Ana. She attended her early school classes in Poptun and then joined classes in the primary school in Purushila. Her parents sent her to Santa Ana to complete her three years of basico (this is highly unusual) since there was no basico school in Purushila at the time. The basico school in Purushila is only 4 years old. Carmen said that she likes living in Purushila because they had neither light nor water in their home in the village of Poptun. Carmen is not aware of any other person preparing to be a nurse in Purushila.
What an opportunity for this lovely young lady and for her community!!
Sergio is a seventeen year old young man in Purushila. He is one of the seven members of the third and last year of what is called the basico level of school. It would be the equivalent of grade 9. Sergio is one of the students who receives a scholarship to apply to his schooling. (The scholarship program is run by the twin 9th grade daughters of Dr. Coral Matus). Sergio is also a student in the English and mathematics class that I taught three times a week in Purushila.
Each month Ismael meets with the scholarship students individually and in a group. I happened to be around when Ismael was meeting with Sergio. I told Ismael that I found Sergio to be one of my best students. Ismael took my word and appointed Sergio to be the student leader of the huge community garden that SewHope is assisting with. Sergio is an excellent leader and a hard worker and the students follow his lead.
About two months ago, Ismael took many of the basico students to see his gardens, chickens and fish pond at his house in Santa Ana. Ismael wanted to show the students what was possible with a bit of planning and a lot of hard work. Sergio was among the students who participated. I remember that Sergio was right next to Ismael throughout the tour and listened attentively to the explanations that Ismael gave.
Here is the kicker: Sergio went back to his house and to created a fish pond. He fenced in an area and set up a garden. He bought a chicken which has already had chicks. These things did not take a lot of money, but did take a lot of time. And when we stopped at his house to see what he had created, we found him hard at work at his studies. WE ARE SO PROUD OF SERGIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This young man was presented with an opportunity and he is running with it! Nothing could make us happier!!!!!!
SewHope has worked in the distant village of Mango a few times over the years. Orfe did a garden project with the women in Mango about three years ago when she was completing a project for her higher level studies. In addition, SewHope has conducted at least one clinic on sight in Mango.
Today was my very first opportunity to visit Mango. Orfe and I traveled 50 minutes to drive the eleven miles from Santa Ana on very bumpy roads. The people of this village are very, very poor. Most houses have thatch roofes, dirt floors and extremely muddy yards. There are no paved roads. Many children are barefoot. Health conditions in general are poor.
At the end of May, Orfe once again started working with the women of Mango on gardens. Over the summer months, Jessi and Franklin, sons of Orfe, also assisted in the garden project and the family worked there about three days per week. Today Orfe returned to visit some of the 52 gardens! THANK YOU Orfe, Jessi and Franklin!!!
The gardens are so neat! Each one is fenced in so that the animals will not eat the food.
The women are very proud of the gardens which are thriving! Many have already harvested and eaten some of their home grown food. I saw lots of radishes, beans, cilantro, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and some tomatoes. This is a wonderful way to feed a family and to better the health of the children. Orfe's hope is that in time, water filters, and safe stoves will also be used in this village.
The following pictures show the examples of gardens and families that are benefiting from them. The pictures also show the poverty of the people such as animals living inside the home and washing and bathing being done in a very dirty pond.
To my surprise, at the very first family that we visited, there was a 15 year old girl who spoke English! She is in Mango for the summer visiting with her grandmother. Marlyn lives with her mother on the island of Caye Caulker which is part of Belize, an English speaking country. I visited this island last year.
In the process of visiting, Orfe also made appointments with the women for the clinic this week in Santa Ana. It was also a chance to visit with the family of a 19 year old boy who just died of cancer of the blood.
Orfe and I made very good use of the drive time. I helped Orfe with her English and she helped me with my Spanish. We laughed a lot! It was an AWESOME morning!
Sr. Pam Buganski
Sr. Pam joined SewHope as our first American Project Coordinator in 2012