It’s been quite a month. There’s a lot to update on (blogging obviously took a backseat during March) so I’ll just get right to it.
Día Internacional de la Mujer
I hope everyone took the opportunity on March 8 to recognize International Women’s Day and appreciate all the powerful females that have had an impact on your life. Given Guatemala’s machista culture, this day is a big deal for the women’s offices. It’s a chance to raise awareness of women’s issues, educate and empower. It was an especially big deal in Santa Cruz because it marked the first big event for the new team in the office. Obviously, the event was plagued with the usual speed bumps (not enough food, missing keys, shoddy A/V equipment…) but I think that, 1200 tostadas and a really great keynote speaker later, it was a success and an impressive inaugural event for the OMM team.
Clockwise from top left: CAKE!, the ladies of santa cruz decked out in purple, new office banner and the salon minutes before the masses began to arrive, keynote speaker, the OMM team and the only female consejal of the muni.
Given my awesome piñata skills I sometimes get asked for advice on craft projects. A few weeks ago I helped my neighbor create a robot costume for feria and shortly thereafter another neighbor asked if I would be able to help make her daughter’s “fantasy costume” for the upcoming girl’s pageant. I happen to adore the little girl so I couldn’t say no and was put to work figuring out how to turn her into a sunflower. The night of the pageant arrived and we headed out to the aldea where the pageant was being held. The original plan was for me to accompany them to help put the costume on and to take pictures. Well, five minutes in the salon and all of a sudden I was ushered to the front table along with the mayor and his wife and sister to judge. In the end, my neighbor ended up coming in last place, but since only six girls were competing, she still received a title and crown and will be acting Flor de Cafe during this year’s feria.
Guateventures with Therese
The day after the pageant I headed to the capital to wait for my first (and probably only) visitor from the states to arrive. Of course, the flight seemed to operating on hora chapina so we were off to a rough start, but things seemed to only get better from there. We criss crossed the country during her short 6 day visit and were able to swim at Semuc Champey, marvel at Lake Atitlan and explore Antigua. I can’t speak for her, but I had a great time. It felt great to be able to share this gem of a country with another person and be reminded through their eyes just how incredible it is. Plus, it was nice to be able to be near someone from back home for a bit and unwind, particularly with my big move on my mind. We laughed, we scraped our toes in caves, we created a bond with MTV backpack, we had fancy, romantic dinners, drank many bags of water, ate even more tortillas and even lost at trivia. I wish more people would come visit.
So after being out of site for a week I had to get back to quickly finish a few things up at work. One of the loose ends was a survey I had started with the women’s office. The office was basically without any good, recent data on the state of women in the municipality. This lack of data makes it difficult to decide on what programs to pursue and also makes it impossible to legitimize the work of the office. After all, if you don’t know the true needs of the people you are serving how can you possibly know that what you are doing is helping? So, I put together a survey that addressed various topics (education, participation in the local economy, citizen participation, etc.) aimed at providing a baseline analysis of the situation of women in Santa Cruz and identifying priorities. We went to every community (some more than once as they were so big they had to be split into sectors) and surveyed more than 800 women. After the last meeting on Thursday I did a little dance.
I got teased last year because all of my pictures made it look like all I did was have fun. Well, the new administration is all about taking pictures so here is proof that occasionally I do work!
Those are the big things from the past few weeks. I also went to a few going away parties for volunteers who opted to take the early Close of Service option, attended a meeting of the Volunteer Advisory Council (have I mentioned that I’m on that?), turned 25 (and received the MOST. AMAZING. GIFT. EVER. from my sister and some incredible friends back home) and made a few more piñatas.
And, oh yeah, I moved to my new site on Friday. I think that deserves a post of its own but not until after I’ve adjusted a little bit and have gotten over some of the missing Santa Cruz blues.
So there it is. March Madness. I’m pooped.