I´ve been in site now for over six months and decided that it was time for some reflection upon my work as well as an update of what all I´ve been up to. I can´t believe I´ve been here this long already and realizing that I´m over a quarter through my service has made me reflect somewhat on what I´ve done so far in site and what I hope to accomplish while I´m here.
My favorite project here so far is my Yo Merezco group. I absolutely love working with these girls and I even love preparing for the meetings. Now that school is out participation is definitely dwindling, which is somewhat discouraging. When school was in I would just go and remind the girls the morning of a meeting and more would show up. I even ran into one mother last week who told me that her husband found out their daughter was coming and doesn´t want her leaving the house. She was one of the girls who came all the time in the beginning and now doesn´t come at all. Another one of the girls who used to come to every meeting also isn´t allowed to come now that school is out. On the other hand, however, there are two girls who started coming late and now come to every meeting. One of them comes each week, and last week twice, all the way from a small village that is 45 minutes outside of Ocotepeque and her older sister has to go with her since it´s far for a 13 year old to be traveling by herself. Although it´s frustrating for me, I suppose that what they´re getting out of the group is worth it and it´s better than not coming to any meetings at all.
I´m still working on improving the monthly meetings at the health center with the pregnant women and adolescents. It´s difficult, just like any type of behavior change, to get the nurses to change the ways they prepare for the meetings. They still look to me to organize it sometimes but I think are at least getting used to the idea that I´m not going to do all the work. Maybe that means that within a year and a half I can get them to be more prepared and enthusiastic going into the meetings. We´ll see.
The manual that I´m working on for the Women´s Health team with three other PCVs is coming along and we´ll have a rough draft completed in January. I´m looking forward to starting the women´s group because through this project I´ve discovered that just writing programs without being part of the implementation is not as interesting to me. I want to start the women´s group in Antigua with the doctor at the health center because the women there don´t have as many opportunities or access to education as the women do in Ocotepeque. In January my friend Anna and I will be locking ourselves up in my apartment for several days to do all the editing before we submit it to the Peace Corps staff to get reviewed before printing. Then we´ll hopefully be on our way…
Personally, I guess I don´t really remember what I expected, but it probably wasn´t how things have turned out. I´m realizing how hard it is to make change actually happen and am trying to keep positive and to stick with the idea that small change is better than a large and drastic change, but it´s frustrating to see how long it actually takes. There are so many problems here and so many things that could be improved that it can be overwhelming to even think where to start. I´m also trying to come up with some good work activities to do in my communities, which will keep me focused because I think the rest of my time here is going to go by really quickly. Despite the frustrations, I´m really happy here, and there´s no where else I would rather be at this time in my life. I still love hearing from people at home so please send me updates when you get a chance. You can send me a letter at the address on the left or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.