The song ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros has naturally become a group favorite in the department of Alta Verapaz. Whether sung with a guitar beside a bonfire, whistled down a dirt road, played on repeat via I-pod , or belted in harmony while out together during the state of siege, it has become a quasi- theme song over the past few months. After an exhausting 65 days out of site, since December 20th, I returned exactly there this past Wednesday- home to the Chirrepeco Tea Cooperative. Only six volunteers will now remain, as a handful of others have returned stateside, moved to different departments, or taken on other work within the country. One volunteer named Nick particularly
enjoys loves the song Home, but unfortunately will not be permitted back to his site. Fortunately, in the midst of two bottle-school projects (and being one of the funniest people I’ve ever met), he will be permitted to return back sporadically in the daytime to oversee the completion of these projects.
|Newly painted office|
|Finishing up the Chirrepec sign project|
Over the two-month siege another volunteer’s mom had visited. Unable to go visit their site, they explained that although it was great for her to see Guatemala and different tourist destinations within different areas, it was hard not to be able to show off their home- a place that will inevitably always be a part of them. Over the past two months, despite moments of anxiousness and frustration, I thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from various activities; Spanish classes, assisting build a school out of recycled bottles, youth development help with an ngo, mid-service medical check-up (TB FREE!),and attending my first ladino wedding. I undeniably enjoyed these experiences, yet they still were not home- I continually yearned to return. Chirrepec has similarly and descreetly become a part of me.
|Roof Inauguration 2,011|
It is now a new year, there is a newly instated military presence in the region, a new group is soon to be sworn in (none will be sent to our region), and a handful of us remain—as always change is the only constant. All one can do is roll with the punches moving forward. In my short time back at site work is steadily moving forward. I will be undertaking a SPA project (Small Project Assistance Program) of a volunteer who returned stateside. Over the next few months, I will be overseeing a latrine project within a community located a little over a half an hour from Coban. Upon returning to the Co-op, I found my co-workers painting the offices and salon, part of the yearly work-plan we had written up. As part of Kamille’s Peace Corps Partnership project, a new lamina roof was put on the Chibulbut School while we were away. Just weeks before, a number of openings and cracks allowed for rain to form puddles in the four classrooms. New windows are set to be put in within March, as well.
Likewise, The Viviente Verapaz tourism alliance held meetings while we were away. Winfrey, from
Alabama Arkansas, and I are the only two remaining tourism volunteers in the region/ working with the alliance. Although this is a challenge, it is a good step towards sustainability and self-management into the future. We are currently in the process of forming an alliance webpage, setting up a promotion event in Antigua, networking with a few new NGO’s, and organizing a training workshop in May. A few of the activities for the upcoming weeks include a dental/floss workshop with a local school, tire-gardens, nutrition/ cooking sessions with the women’s group on International Women’s Day, sign projects in two neighboring communities, TEFL classes in my two communities, putting the new windows into the school, and a 50th year PC gathering at the ambassador’s home.
|My training host family and I at the wedding|
|My godson- Selvin Jr.|
I am elated to continue working with my community. I am cognizant of how much I have —and how that can be taken away in the blink of an eye. I am happy to see my godson, Selvin Jr. on a daily basis. I have a lot of work to do. I only have a year remaining. I am ready. I am excited. I am content. I am home.