Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time is running out!

The work is going forward in a big way down here. Unfortunately, time is running out so fast and we only have so many hands. I can't believe how quickly our time here has gone. We've picked up some new projects with our partner organizations; fixing a kitchen roof at the Emiliani boys' school, furnishing some books and wheelchairs for the hospital, establishing mentoring for the kids at CIPI and preparing a zoo day for the preschoolers. Hopefully we haven't bit off more than we can chew in the remaining work days. It is great to see the focus and social entrepreneurship of the group's members, they've really stepped up to the plate.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Singing time For CIPI

For the last two weeks the HELP Volunteers have been focusing on painting a mural on the wall of the Special Ed room and one in the Pre-school room at CIPI. Every other day I have been going to help paint. This is the experence Deborah, one of our volunteers had during this last week.

We first did the mural in the Pre-school room and then moved on to the special Ed room. In the special ed room we weren’t able to move the kids out as we painted. So we were there painting as Trisha, one of our volunteers who specializes in special ed and works at CIPI with the special needs children regularly, was doing activities with them. About two days ago I had a wonderful experience with the children. (Actually I have been having special experiences with them regularly but this is the one I thought I would share this week.) Trisha had planned a singing time and needed our help to include all of the kids.
I have not had very much experience with children who have disabilities as sever as these children and I have had a bit of hesitation in the past during the few times I have interacted with such individuals. Working at CIPI with the children in the special needs room has helped me understand so much more about how things really are and how truly choice these children are. As it was time for singing time to begin we started to pick up all the children and lay them in a circle on mattresses on the floor or in our laps. We sang all of the children songs we could think of to these kids and helped them move along to the tunes. Every now and then we would switch the kids in our lap to give the ones on mattresses a chance to be held. It was so much fun to see their huge grins as they listened to us sing and struggle to harmonize. The last song we sang was a song I learned as a child in church. I never really understood the true meaning of it until I was cradling a four year old boy who can’t walk or communicate very well with the world around him.

Trisha was the only other person in the group who knew the song so she and I sang it as a closing song to quiet things down. The words go like this:

If you don’t walk as most people do
Some people walk away from you
But I won’t, I won’t.

If you don’t talk as most people do
Some people laugh and talk at you
But I wont, I wont.

I’ll walk with you
I’ll talk with you
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

At that moment, as I sang those words to this precious little boy, it really sank in deep how much it actually meant to him and the other children that I was there just then doing what I was doing and how important it is to show love to those who are not as physically or mentally alert as others. I am so grateful for the smiles and the laughs from these kids that build me up daily and remind me why I am here doing what I am doing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Teaching Opportunities

Every day we have many diverse teaching opportunities. Each is unique and brings its own unique challenges and approaches. Fortunately, we´re a unique bunch of people. In Suchitoto a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to see schoolkids we had taught about the wise use of remittances teach their community through dramas, murals and to some extent, dance.

Hollan and Blanca taught community leaders in Cuidad Delgado about health and sanitation. Those leaders will in turn teach their communities about preventing dengue, parasites, and promoting general well-being.

Laurel (left) and Maclaine teach English to schoolkids in Habitat Confien. These kids are really committed. They come to a two hour class after (or before) their normal school day is done.

Gregan (above), Cody and Fred taught the ¨Best Game¨to promoters as ASEI. The object of the game is to learn good business principles that they will pass on to the some odd 6000 small businesses that they mentor.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Trust us, we´re professionals

It has been a very full week for us here in El Sal. Between two birthdays, an Indepence Day celebration, the culmination of our work in Suchitoto and our other myriad projects we are always on the go. Volunteers have weathered civil unrest, working in hospital wings where patients sometimes need help with bodily functions, changing many dirty diapers (sometimes of physically- and mentally-handicapped kids who are not at all small), making brochures which cover everything from parasites to sex ed, and various minor infections (sometimes the sinus sometimes the knees you never know). And they´ve done it magnificently. The following pictures do not all come from the past week but they´re pictures you might not have seen so check them out.
Children at CIPI look on as their nursery is fumigated. Not very uncommon. Mike strums some tunes for the special needs preschoolers while Tricia holds down the fort. The kids really love all kinds of stimulation and with a shortage of staff they get very little of it so this was a welcome treat. Rachel´s birthday at Multiplaza. The French cafe was very nice; the desserts were as the French say delicious (okay, that´s not really French).

Painting the pool at CISNA. Fortunately we got this done before it exploded.
Now the fourth of July was quite a blast. We apparently weren´t cool enough for the American Embassy to invite us to their little shindig so we made our own..with fireworks that you Utahns (you law-abiding Utahns) can´t get your hands on. Fred, bless his foolish, foolish heart, lit off one of said fireworks at ground level where it ought not to be. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt. The neighborhood security patrol joined temporarily in our American reverie. Go America´s birthday. Now we look forward to Blanca´s birthday tomorrow.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Habitat para la Humanidad: June 21, 2007

Those of us 2nd wavers who went to Habitat for Humanity for the second time here are beginning to learn to bring several thousand milliliters of water and eat a hearty breakfast or we would desmayarnos despues de poco tiempo.

Gregan, Cody, Mike, Danyelle, Fred, and Hollan spent a good portion of the day mixing 25 buckets sand (tierra blanca) with one bucket cement which we’d spread across the dirt floor.

We spend the rest of the time temping, or pounding, the ground.

Soon after Hollan and Danyelle left to help out at the Hospital, we were joined by another volunteer group from Ohio– Hope Lutheran Church – an hour before lunchtime. We helped train them on our mixing and temping routine before we went in search of food. To our dismay, the elderly lady who sold us our lunch last week didn’t have anything for us so we continued down the road and was invited in to eat outside a lady’s house after we asked if she was selling any food. We didn’t see any signs or see anything to make us believe she was selling food, but we were more than happy to sit down and be served by this kind lady and her 3 daughters and a son. The son politely noted how Fred was more “chele” than Gregan, Cody, and I. The daughters watched us eat from a corner and giggled as we ate our meat and rice and listened to the reggaeton they had playing on their radio. Satisfied, we returned to our mixing and pounding labors. We took a break to enjoy some guanaba fruit.

The house is coming along very nicely. We are excited to see the progress that will be made next week!

Rosales Hospital

Rosales is one of the oldest operating and largest State run hospitals in all of central America. A couple of the volunteers have started going to the hospital to help out on Mondays and Fridays and this is Hollan`s experience he had on Friday.
We walked past the guard at the entrance of the hospital and made our way to the head nurses station. Rachel, Danyelle, Fred and I made our way to the head nurses station. Because Danyelle and I don`t speak much spanish we have been paired with spanish speakers so that communication can be maintained between us and the hospital staff. We waited patiently as our contact came out to meet us. We were escorted to first the womens wing were Rachel and Danyelle would be for the day and then Fred and I were taken to the Mens wing. As we entered the building we were introduced to the head nurse of the mens wing and she started showing us around. I immediately noticed how privacy is not a word in the vocabulary of hospitals here. One large room housed 22 patients and most of the time the beds touched each other making Nosocomial diseases a guarantee. (Nosocomial diseases are diseases or sicknesses you get while staying in the hospital for something else), Breakfast hadn`t arrived yet so Allie (the head nurse told us to just go get to know the patients) so Fred and I did, we went around the entire room and simply asked what was wrong with them and if they were in pain or if the food was good here and of these 22 patients here is what we were dealing with: Our first patient had just had a major abdominal operation and was lying comatose on his bed. Bed 2 stared at the lights all day and said nothing, and we were later informed that he had just had brain surgery and a full recovery was doubtful. The next couple of guys, (giovanni, manuel, carlos, carlos) had broken bones from falling out of trees, shattered legs from a mudslide, Head wounds from car accidents, and Carlos had two gun shot wounds one entering and exiting his right hand and one entering and exiting his abdomen. The final two men of the first row had bed sores, weakness, aches, pain, fever and were probably sharing their sicknesses. On the other side of the room was the worst of all, Rena, had been shot five times from a gang related shoot out and had both of his lungs punctured, which required large tubes (a little smaller than PVC piping to be inserted in either side of his abdomen for drainage of the blood that would fill his lungs, he was in so much pain and at one point in the day he asked Fred and I to help him sit up alittle but after discovering that his entire back and bed was soaked in blood we decided the bed was more than likely acting as a bandage and decided him sitting up would make him bleed out and die within minutes, so we layed him back down. Next was Christian who we wheeled to the abscess department so his calf abscess could be debreeded, I can`t exactly explain what that was like because I lack the medical terminology knowledge but open wounds and a lot of bleeding comes to mind. Upon leaving we also saw a body being taken to the morgue. Of the other patients present in our wing we had hernias, a heart attack patient, a broken femur than necesitated a weight system of 18 pounds to pull the bones apart for proper placement, spinal problems, catheters, colon bags, Tumors, Throat surgeries and much more. Nurses continually changed bandages and open wounds were exposed which made for excellent viewing and incredibly shadowing experience, Also Fred and I did our best to become friends with the nurses and by the end of the day we could look at everyones x-rays with a problem and we even go invited to one of the nurses birthday party. I can`t wait for Monday and I hope those guys in the hospital are surving.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The girls in the back of the pick-up truck in Suchitoto! Note the matching shirts!
The Habitat for Humanity Home we have been working on for several weeks.
Danyelle and Blanca climbing up to the falls at Juayua.
The group up at Juayua.
Through it all, we still have fun! The girls going dancing with some of our local friends.

This is just one of the many toe surgeries that we (medical students) have been able to perform on each other. What great experience!
Practicing for the ALPIMED skit the day before we performed it in Suchitoto. ALPIMED is a project where we have gone around to several different schools in Suchitoto performing our skit, which is designed to help the children understand that it is best to save their remitences rather than spending them.
POLICIA!!! (Part of the ALPIMED skit)
Es mas peligroso! (another scene from the skit where the main character is trying to get into the U.S. using a Coyote).

Renta! Your rent is due!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our diversity here is amazing. We have a diverse group of volunteers, Tricia is doing wonders with the handicapped children at CIPI and Padre Vito, Gregan, Mike, and Cody were asked to write a book with Ricardo (the director of ASEI, and microfinancing) which will deal with various models and programs of microbusiness. Hollan, Danyelle and Blanca are moving forward with volunteering at the hospital and are trying to organize nights shifts and surgery observations. Jackie can´t get enough of the CISNA boys and she always has her English lessons so prepared. Kirtley is versatile and works well with all, and laurel is experienced in several areas and is great. All volunteers are willing to help each other out and bring laughter into any situation. Service is not only helping others better themselves but also the giver receives so much learning and experience that I often feel that service helps the giver more. This is a great place, with great people and life couldn´t be better.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Well everyone, the first wave has gone home and the second is now getting comfortable so we´ve finally decided that the time has come to get our blog up and running. Here´s what we´ve been up to... In partnership with Habitat for Humanity we´re working on two homes in Zaragoza outside of San Salvador. We´ve put a lot of sweat into these houses, a lot of sweat.

We´re also working at CISNA, a center for street boys. We teach, read to, play with, and otherwise occupy them during the day. This is so crucial because without a place to be and something to do these kids remain on the street and eventually can become targets for local gangs.

But we´re not through yet (even if the pictures temporarily are). We have groups working with orphans and preschoolers with disabilites and working with at-risk children from infants to teenagers. We have groups volunteering at a local hospital and teaching about dengue prevention. We are teaching local school kids about the wise use of remittances (money sent by family members in the USA to El Salvador which make up a large part of the local GDP). We also teach English three times a week.
So as you can see, we are all very busy, very sweaty, and very happy. Look forward to more pictures in the future and ask about in-home toe surgery for your loved ones.