Monday, August 10, 2009

25 de Abril

Wow. One week left until I become a “real” volunteer. I can’t believe that 3 months has passed by so quickly. Honestly I don’t want to leave Paso de Oro. I have an awesome relationship with my host parents, have become great friends with the other aspiring volunteers, and have a potential novio who is an amazing person. Defiantly didn’t come here looking for this but what does a girl do?!?!

Anyways…much has happened. Finally I know where I will be spending my two years as a Peace Corp Volunteer. A little place called, 25 de Abril. Yes the 25th of April is the name of the place where I’ll be living. I say place, because it’s really just that, a place on the road. 25 de Abril is in the district of Concepcion about 6 hours from the capital, Asuncion. I am the furthest from the capital in my group of 18. I am also the one of two who is “campo” or very, very, extremely rural. I went to visit for a week, and returned for training for 2 more.

During training we went through an interview process, talking about our skills, past work, preferences, and what not. Everywhere in Paraguay has electricity so that was a given but there are still places with out running water. I spent my volunteer visit in a place with a well, and it was fine, but I requested a place with running water, in reality not asking for much because most everywhere has that too. I guess I’ve just been spoiled and everything has exceeded my expectations so far with Paraguay. I have a modern bathroom right now, flushing toilet, and a warm shower. And I’ve seen a lot of these places all around Paraguay, it’s becoming more and more common.

Well be is as it is, I get sent to the place where there is running water in one part, and not the other where the majority of the people live. And in the part where there is running water, it’s outside the house. So I will be using a latrine for a toilet and a bucket for a bath. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, because I am totally stoked on my projects, but I am the only one in my group. I know peace corps isn’t all about these things, but when I’ve been spoiled with them for 3 months and am not stoked to shit in a hole. Some of the other volunteers are going to be working I totally modern cities, with all of the amenities. Not going to lie I am a little jealous of their toilets.

Anyways…For the first month I am going to live with my counterpart, Serafin, and his family. They have 6 kids, 2 of which live a home right now. My new side kick is his daughter, Sandra, who is 14. They have 3 bedrooms in their house and enough beds, but no doors in any of the rooms. I need a door and a lock, not to be too picky but security is nice, for my computer and a bit of privacy. So they currently are building walls on the patio with a door and a lock for me. During the first month I’ll be looking for a place to stay for 2 more months, preferably 2 other families. The rule of Peace Corps is that I stay with families for 3 months, to integrate in the community. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to find a place to stay for the 2 remaining months. I am not lying when I say; every family has 6-15 kids living in the same house. There for if I am to move in for a month, I’ll be putting 4 kids out of a room. Beucase I need my own room.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the fact, that all of the people are super nice. The first night I arrived at about 8:30 and there was about 15 people waiting outside the cooperative where I’ll be working. We ate empanadas, sopa paraguaya and drank some wine and coke, in the office/ my room for the week. Apparently that night about 11:30 Don Faustino called my director and told her how happy the community was that I have come to work with them. The cooperative is called Integral and has about 50 members. They have 20 hectares of land to produce sandia (watermelon), pineapple, and bananas together. Also every member has their own land that they cultivate also, poroto negro, cana de azucar, etc. The cooperative also runs 2 shops (almacens) where they sell the basic necessities, food, some clothes, gas, and other things. Tambien every women member has a garden with a device that provides shade, and a chicken coupe to insure that the chickens are receiving the proper nutrition instead of just having their chickens running around scavenging for food.

The cooperative would like me to work on the following projects: teach the group of young kids how to use computers (they have one computer for the administration stuff, but want another one), teach the administration more complex programs on the computer ( programs they want to buy), help raise funds to build a mini casa/shop on the road to sell the products that the women grow in the gardens, and the food they make, a place where the kids can work together, also help obtain money for the irrigation system that is going to cost 50 thousand dollars, along with maybe working in the schools, and getting to know the entire community. Most everything involves money. I spent a lot of the week trying to explain we need to prioritize, I am not a bank, and I will help where I am able.

During training they tell you the first 6 months you won’t be doing much. Don’t believe that is going to happen for me. I am really excited to get to know the community, and understand more about how the cooperative works. The cooperative has so many great ideas, and know how to work together, and run a business. I really don’t want to let them down, they seem to have very very high expectations of me.

The total distance from the main cooperative/one of the almacens is, and the rest of the community and the other almacen is about 5 km. Therefore I need a mode of transportation. I can’t ride on a moto its illegal in the Peace Corps, I didn’t have a bike during my visit, and 5 km is a long way to walk. Entonces, I took the carro, a horse drawn buggy, carriage sort of thing that the farmers use to haul their products. I am seriously contemplating buying a horse.

Friday the 14th is the day of swearing in, in Asuncion. We are going early in the morning and staying until Tuesday the 18th, the day I am moving to 25 de Abril. 4 days in Asuncion, soaking in the last of modern life. I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to start my work, I am ready to be tested.

I was supposed to go use the internet yesterday, sunday, but it was pooring down rain and the bueses were very infrequent therefore mary and I spent the day at david´s house with his mom and brothers eating and dancing.

I have so much going on in my brain, I probably missed something important. I can’t wait to update and share about my new life in the campo!

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth, what a fantastic adventure! We know several Peace Corps veterans, and they still talk about their experiences w/ a twinkle in their eyes. You will most assuredly take your place among them -- but for now, soak it up girl! We'll be following along.
    Best of Luck,
    Tony Hartmann (your mom's cuz in Madison) and family (Carolyn, Haley-15yrs, and Geordi-12yrs.)