I have been a terrible blogger, but I look to redeem myself.
Since my last entry I have been to 3 new countries, had my dog escape/stolen, welcomed 6 new healthy homes volunteers to the villages of Uspantan, witnessed the army helicoptered into my town, saw the police get kicked out of town, saw the police come back, have been woken up to blasting campaign music countless times, celebrated over a year of being in site and have started my countDOWN of service.
In May Sheila and Jenny came to visit. Wonderful! We went around Guatemala and Honduras, down to the bay island, Roatan, and then through Copan to see the Mayan ruins on our way back to Guatemala.
June and July were hectic with the arrival of the 2011 Healthy Homes group of volunteers. As I was to receive quite a few in my municipality, admin had me help out during their training: hosting field based training and the visit of 2 trainees for IDA (Individually Directed Activity), a week of HIV workshops at the office near Antigua and finally site visits. I am happy to report that all 6 are doing well and I am super happy to have their support in 3 of the villages in which I have been working!
My reward after all the stress and travelling of June and July was a visit from Jackie. We stuck to Guatemala and mainly hung out in my town. She got to see me in English-teching action, we translated for US doctors who were doing a surgery drive at the hospital, and she was actually here in Uspantan when the army was helicoptered in to arrest 2 drug lords who were travelling through. Not something you get to see on just any vacation!
Last month I had in-service training and a project design workshop with Peace Corps and my counterparts. Now in my second year, I am looking to do infrastructure projects in 2 of the villages where I have my health promoter groups. In the coming weeks and months, my health promoter groups will be graduating the year-long program of health trainings and will begin to give their own workshops in their communities. As a reward for all their hard work and initiative I want to do latrine and cement floor projects in these villages and so am begining to look into all means of funding for this. The idea is that as these health promoters have been receiving trainings this year on improving health and well-being they would now be able to lead as examples of healthy habits and home infrastructure!...we shall see.
After the workshops I went to visit Charlotte in Nicaragua! Charlotte spent the summer doing a fellowship with FINCA, accumulating data on the success of micro-loans that had been given out last year throughout the country. It was amazing to see her and have her show me around Nicaragua! We then spent a night in San Salvador and then she came back to Guatemala with me. It was so nice to have her in Uspantan and to be able to show her my program, my health promoter groups and, of course, take her to some English classes.
Now I find my self in September, getting ready to graduate my first group of health promoters, counting down the days until the end of the school year, and hoping that the elections pass without any violence or tension. Elections are this coming Sunday the 11th and so far it seems like everything should be fine but we have been getting mixed speculations from people here in town. Our mayor is a somewhat divisive figure and if re-elected will spurr quite a bit of discontent. The plan: Hilary, Stephen and I are going to stock up on food, water and rum and wait it out in one of our houses.
Last but not least, I am going back to the United States of America for this first time at the end of the month! I have been so busy and have been fortunate enough to have so many visitors that I almost thought I wouldn't feel the need to go back but the second I bought my ticket I realized how much I am looking forward to this. If for nothing else, to take a breather and regain some perspective before launching into grant writing and infrastructure building. I will be spending a few days in Florida with the family as my cousin is getting married and then up to New York for 9 days! I am beyond excited and cannot wait to see all your beautiful faces!