Friday, May 7, 2010

March 19 - 26th - Day 8: Last Day in Antigua

Well our last day in Antigua…it started just like any other…knocking on Mr. William’s and each of the girl’s doors at 7 am and while the girls showered and dressed, Mr. Williams, Julie and I headed next door for our hour of cafe con lache.

A quick trip to the market to pick up the last few items followed breakfast and then off to Open Windows for our last day. We had some last minute donations to sort and some groceries to purchase before lunch. The groceries and a few candies were sorted into four boxes for families we would soon be meeting. After a quick (and delicious) but tiny lunch we left to deliver the boxes to families who lived on the hillside around Duenas. The walk was steep and most of the dwellings we passed were tin walled with sometimes plastic for a roof covering and dirt floors. Teresa accompanied us and after a brief conversation with a woman surrounded by four children, we were invited in to her small yard. This house is along the path that leads up the hill and during the rainy season, the water runs down the hill into their house, often soaking all their belongings. (Teresa and the Opén Windows Foundation are collecting plastic water bottles which will be filled with trash and used to create a retaining wall to help slow the erosion along these steep banks. ) Once the girls had a quick visit inside her house, we left a box of groceries and continued our climb. Soon we came to another yard with a couple of tin dwellings, again with dirt floors. This yard is home to 3 families with a total of 15 children ranging in age from a month old to 14 years. We stopped for a quick visit and left the remaining three boxes of groceries. The mom at this house spoke in spanish and when interpreted said that she is so grateful for people like us who are willing to help and that the students were angels sent to help. When talking with the girls later, this visit had a huge impact on them.

Once back at the center, we spent the next hour in the library reading with the children who attend the center in the afternoon. (approximately 60 children) Activity time follows reading time and today was our last chance to organize the daily activity. Our girls have done a fantastic job all week of organizing fun and new activities for the children and I think today, the hugs received at the end of the activity time was reward enough for our students. While activity time was on, a few of us spent the last remaining time sorting our donations and boxing and labelling them for ease of distribution. Not only does Open Windows distribute supplies to the community and surrounding schools, but they also create 150 gift bags for Mother’s Day gifts and 500 Christmas gifts for children in the area.

By 5:00, the day had finally come to an end and we had to leave the centre for our last time. We were invited to the home of a retired couple from the US, who sit on the board of Open Windows. We met many of the board members and had a wonderful bbq with Teresa, Julie, and the staff of Open Windows.

We arrived late back at the hotel, but Mr. Williams, Julie and I had arranged for dessert night at the restaurant next door this morning before we left, so those who wanted were treated to “raw apple pie” and terra mazu.

Last minute packing is still to be done tonight and we should be travelling much lighter than when we arrived…although we have some shoppers in the crowd!

Off now to pack and up again in the morning for our usual routine and last cafe con lache!

Lois McGill-Horn
Developing World Connections Participant

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