Monday, June 28, 2010

June 2010: Paint, Pinata, Flores and Tikal.

Hola all! It is hard to believe we are in our last week of volunteering. As expected, the time has flown by and everyone is eager to accomplish a lot before our time is up on Friday. Last we left off, the girls were busy painting the laminate to be used to replace the roof on the schools. Despite the overdose of paint fumes, we were very happy to be contributing to the functionality of the institution where we bonded with many of the eager pupils in attendance. The boys have also been very hard at work completing repairs on a local home. The reaction of the owners was reportedly one of tearful gratitude, which is just what volunteers like to see! We also celebrated Chloe´s birthday last week with a piñata and a failed attempt to bake a cake when a box of icing was confused for cake mix.

Over the past weekend, our group suffered through a rather long and arduous overnight bus trip to the island city of Flores. The trek proved well worth it as we enjoyed an exploratory weekend in the Peten region. The humidity was absolutely palpable and the sweat was pouring as we all explored the small island on Saturday.

On Sunday our group headed into the jungle to explore the historical site of Tikal. Many dub this a cultural highlight of the trip; the spectacular beauty and feats of architecture displayed throughout the ancient Mayan city was fascinating, but unfortunately our many photographs fail to do the temples justice.

As we begin our last week in Duenas, the rain is hindering some of our progress painting at the school, but the boys are busy replacing the new laminate on the roof. We also anticipate another chance to hang out with the children at Open Windows, and maybe another soccer game! I think I speak for the entire group when I say we are all sad to be leaving so soon.

Hasta Luego,
Katie Klein
DWC Student Volunteer
June 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 2010: Volunteering and "Bro-mance'.

One more week down! We last left off fresh from our weekend trip to Lake Atitlan and since then we have accomplished a lot. Working in Duenas for week number 2 we were fortunate enough to visit the local elementary school to work with the children. Thus far one of my personal favorites; it was unreal witnessing all my friends surrounded by masses of little kids trying to get our undivided attention. Fortunately for me I was put in a class with six year olds right where I belong…in terms of Spanish. I ended up having a classmate grill me on the number system; apparently 4th year finance classes are WAY easier than pronouncing 56 in Espanol.

The boys have been busy being “men”. Doing hard labor such as digging trenches, pulling entire trees out of rivers, making concrete and helping rebuild a house, our boys have developed what they coined the “Bromance”. Although they won’t enjoy me publicizing this to the world, I most definitely witnessed these 5 boys squeeze into a four person (what looked like 3 person) solar hot tub of what I deemed filth.

At the end of the week we began painting panels of a new roof for the local school. Painting will prevent the roof from rusting and hopefully this will mean a long term solution to their current leaky situation. Thursday was Steph’s birthday so we ventured into Antigua and took a salsa dancing lesson. We learned the mambo and rumba steps, worked up quite the sweat, and hopefully upon our arrival in Calgary will not look like the dancing robots we did that first night! Until next time…

Ann Thorlacius
DWC Student Volunteer
June 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 2010: A Volunteer's Perspective

The last few days of our first work week were spent clearing a river with some locals and creating effective solutions that would remove the debris, and not simply create more blockages further downstream. We also had our first opportunity to spend time with the children who go to Open Windows. Most of us got the children to read to us, but there were plenty of other activities as well ranging from soccer to knitting.

Our group was fortunate enough to be able to travel Guatemala a bit over the weekend. We visited San Pedro De Laguna which is located on Lake Atitlan, a popular tourist attraction in Guatemala. The town was small and quaint with spectacular surroundings! We weren’t able to climb the volcano but we got to hike the India Nose Mountain which is adjacent to it. What a workout! The intense two hour hike was well worth the spectacular view once you reached the top. On our way home we were able to stop at Central America’s largest native outdoor market, located in Chichicastenango. The market was enormous and almost all of us were able to get some great souvenirs and try some local food.

It was quite an eventful weekend but we all came back to Antigua refreshed and ready to work. We started out our second week working in local schools and help the children in classrooms. It was almost as tiring running after kids for a morning as it was shoveling gravel in the afternoon! Each day we learn something new and try our best to help where ever we can. We’re all excited to see where the next few weeks take us!


Rosie Singh
DWC Volunteer
Guatemala 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 2010: Student Team

Hola from Guatemala…

Our journey to Guatemala, along with our time in-country thus far, has slightly deviated from our initial expectations on several levels. The eruption of the Pacaya volcano in combination with the devastating affects of Tropical Storm Agatha told us that good ol’ mother nature had slightly different ideas for the people of Guatemela, and accordingly for our group of volunteers. Both natural disasters, occurring within the week before our scheduled departure, caused an extended airport closure and a three day delay of our flight (not to mention slightly increased levels of nerves amongst our group!) Despite these curve balls, after three extremely long days of waiting in Calgary and checking the news compulsively, we made it to Guatemala.

Upon arrival at Teresa’s beautiful colonial style house, our home for the coming weeks, it is fair to say that any existing nerves were immediately washed away. The next couple days of exploring Antigua reaffirmed everyone’s hopes that Guatemala would be nothing short of amazing. Teresa informed us all that our plans for work had been changed quite significantly. The town we were to be working in, San Miguel Dueñas, was in fact hit hard by the storm, and we would be cleaning up the damage and repairing many homes. Fourteen eager and energetic bodies were going to be of much more use than we had initially anticipated.

We began our work on Monday in an area outside Dueñas that had been severely affected by the storm. While making our way through the streets the extent of the damage became highly apparent, giving everyone a strong sense of urgency to begin repairs. One family’s home had been blocked with a large build up of mud, making access extremely difficult. Our group began by digging up the mud and transporting it out of the area, and covering the damaged areas with stronger dirt to prevent similar problems from occurring again. Since then we have continued working on similar mini projects – transporting mud, removing blockages from streams, and brainstorming preventative ideas in case the rain returns. Luckily we have managed to squeeze in several hours to play soccer with some locals, which really would be more accurately described as getting completely schooled by the kids of Dueñas. However, when the backdrop of your soccer field involves lush green mountains and a towering volcano, one really cannot complain ;)

Our first few days of volunteering in Guatemala have been eye-opening, exciting and highly eventful. I think I speak for the whole group in saying that we cannot wait to see what the next several weeks will bring! Adios for now…

Carla Bitz
DWC Student Team Leader