Today is our first day of volunteer work. We left at Antigua at 8:00 AM and drove in two vans (and our eight suitcases) to San Miguel Duenas. It was about a fifteen minute drive. Even though it was so close, Antigua is very different from San Miguel. It is not cobble stone and it is very, very poor. Teresa (the leader of Open Windows Foundation) gave us a tour of the village. First we went to the Fire Hall. It was tiny! We all slid down the fireman's pole though. Riche was so scared! But we finally convinced her to come down. Shane, Riley and Miles climbed back up the pole. Show offs.
It's funny because on some houses you will see North American references like a poster of High School Musical or Shrek. We went do the City Hall next. The government is really corrupt. Teresa says that they encourage all children to go to school, but they turn a blind eye when they need money for school supplies. This prevents them from being able to have enough for everybody. Small children go to school in the morning while their parents and older siblings work. Then they come to the library (which is the Open Windows building) or take a siesta while the teenagers go to school.
We stopped at a "house" that four families lived in. It was so dirty. The father was making bread that he could sell. All of the families sleep in one room with two mattresses. They have a lime and an apple tree. They wash all their clothes by hand and hang them to dry. They had rabbits, a dog and chickens. Their sinks were filthy and they didn't have any electricity. The oldest son had to work night and day to pay for his little sister's education. It made me cry. That was definitely the moment that everybody has been talking about -- that minute that changes your life, that minute that makes you feel so bad and feel so grateful for what you have. It was unbelievable. Poverty now has a face and a name and it makes it that much more real.
Next we went to a private school where all of the students were considered "upper class". It was recess time and it was pandemonium! All of the kids would ambush you for pictures! They all wore red school uniforms and ate lots of junk food. They would laugh at how tall Shane was! They were all so friendly. They would ask me questions in Spanish and I would have NO idea what they meant. After this, we went back to the Open Windows building and starting fixing up desks. We have to take them all apart, put them back together with new wood and then later we will paint them. We ate lunch here and now it's our break before we will get back to work. Tonight we are going to a youth group. I'll keep you posted. Husta luego!
Developing World Connections Participant