Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Out in the Field
An incredible day for all of us. We all got back to ASAPROSAR's compound, dirty, sweaty, exhausted, and humbled. One group went to La Magdelena and set up their dental clinic for about 66 kids and their mothers. The rate of decay was about the same as last year, but the severity of the cavities was much less. Many had good strong teeth as they are so poor, they can't afford to buy the sweets and snacks at the nearby "Diana" store, that are so prevalent everywhere. The dental clinic is on land that is donated to ASAPROSAR for their preschool "nucleo" program and turned into a dental clinic when our volunteers came today. It is obvious that the people who live there deeply appreciate ASAPROSAR providing dental care for them. The children were dressed in their best clothes for their dental visit. Many had walked for miles - some as much as 8 miles each way for their dental appointment. Several of the promotoras were there - the same ones who had just completed their training the day before. They all greeted us with smiles and greetings of "hola." I am so impressed with their energy and passion. The promotoras and some of the children took the time to decorate the dental clinic with festive signs and stickers - it was very touching.
Our group stayed for a little while and I took some photos of the children, the chickens, and the women making pupusas, with the practiced hand of someone who had made pupusas for a lifetime. I watched as one of the women adeptly pulled a piece of the corn dough into a mound in her hand, quickly pulled a small amount off and put it back in the bowl, then gently patted the pupusa into a small pancake, smoothed some mashed beans on it, then laid one on a hot griddle over a wood fire set up on a metal stand.
Our group then left for a nearby school where we helped several of the environmental ASAPROSAR coordinators teach a curriculum to 11, 12, and 13 year olds about what you can reuse, or compost. Recycling doesn't exist here. We also watched a puppet show with the younger kids, which was about conservation and the environment. The children were all giggly, wore blue uniforms, and were very curious about us.
We then drove to a nature preserve called Magdelena, near the volcano Chingo. Waving stalks of maize lay on one side of the deeply rutted road, while sugarcane fields stretched for miles on the other side. It is a wonder our van could even drive along the roads. Every now and then we came to an intersection, usually marked by a cow tied to a tree, a stray dog lying in the middle of the road, teen boys on bicycles, or women carrying firewood on their heads. We always had our windows wide open, as there was so much to photograph. We passed homes of families who farm the sugar cane. Chickens could be seen roaming in and out of the homes, and children stood shyly in doorways, returning our waves. The people are so poor, and we waved at everyone and they smiled and waved back.
We eventually came to the nature preserve, where Roberto and Mauricio and two women from ASAPROSAR gave us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we sat and ate our lunch. We then spent a good 30 minutes doing nothing but taking photos of butterflies. We first saw lemon colored clouds of butterflies along the road. But, when we arrived at the nature preserve, I realized I had never seen so many butterflies in my life....really. Beautiful azure and black ones, solid azure, jewel green and black, lemon yellow, sunny yellow and black and more. Evidently, ASAPROSAR just completed the construction of their building in the preserve and the butterflies are attracted to some of the minerals used in the construction - so we were told. Every butterfly seemed more beautiful than the one before.
We went on a hike - Roberto said just 30 minutes - but it was more like 1 1/2 hours as we had nine different stops where Roberto and Mauricio took the time to point out the incredible mushrooms, trees, the spongy forest floor, ferns that curled together with the slightest touch of our hands, and the history of the preserve.
We drove back to Santa Ana tired, muddy, and quiet. When we arrived back at the ASAPROSAR compound, we immediately joined everyone else for dinner - which was a delicious chicken, rice, and potato pancakes. After dinner, each of us shared one or two things that left an impression upon us that day. We all had special stories. We will have special memories that we will take home with us.
Tomorrow - day two of the dental clinic, where they expect to see about 60 kids. Our group will go to one of the Barefoot Angels sites and teach the teens about sex education through a Jeopardy game, and other activities.
More updates tomorrow!