You’re on a bus headed home from the capital and suddenly the cobrador of the guagua is frantic and pulls you to look out the door at the man in a wheelchair who currently has hold of the back of the bus and is getting a free ride through the city. Everything’s normal.

After Friday graduation, Hogares Saludables health promoters with their kids in tow, headed out to the beach!  DSCF4252DSCF4253

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Stopped at a freshwater river before heading home to rinse off!

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I really enjoyed a talk Jacqueline Novogratz gave. Here are some quotes I pulled.

  • “Better immersion than to live untouched.” – Tillie Olsen
  • “Monsters exist in all of us. Or maybe not monsters so much but the broken parts of ourselves. Sadnesses. Secret shame…Easier to prey on those parts…to make us look at human beings as lesser than ourselves.”
  • What we really yearn for as human beings is to be visible to each other.

The last one really hit me. It’s so true. A lot of the issues I see in my community can be tied to issue of self-esteem, peer-pressure, a lack of attention/desperation to be validated.

I will definitely try to keep that in mind as I go through my last 13 months of service. Really, what is it that motivates people? 

After Dengue AND Chikungunya I begged the Ministry of Public Health to come out and do some fumigating. After 3 months of cancellations, they came! Kind of. Sure, he didn’t bring enough people or poison and, yeah, unfortunately he texted me weird things for the following quarter of a year, but HEY! maybe it made a little bit of a difference!

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Health promoters readying to give mini-charlas door-to-door.

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My host brother agreed to help out!

After 5 months of weekly classes on health topics from nutrition, to tuberculosis, to yeast infections, to HIV, to domestic violence…They were ready!

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The graduates and me!!

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First of all, it was really hot.

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We cleaned and decorated the center!

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The center, looking beautiful!

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La mesa de honor. Some really powerful women in my community. So glad to have them as an example.

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Julia and Yvonne were A+ volunteers and came to the graduation!

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Again, it was hot.

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Starting off right, with a dinamica.

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Our class speaker!

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Regional Coordinator of Hogares Saludables and my project partner, Nuris.

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It was SO hot.

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An acrostic poem of SALUD.

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Ready to hand out diplomas and carnets!

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While giving out the diplomas I accidentally got kissed by one of my students. NBD.

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The cake was delicious but a nightmare to transport.

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Me and my host mom, Ana!

These few photos I took one afternoon don’t do justice to the obsession children in my town have with coloring at la casa de la americana.

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Luckily most of them are pretty cool. And I normally get to keep the drawings. Bam! Now I don’t have to waste money on buying beautiful framed landscapes.

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Last minute preparing before the final review game!

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Final review game!

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The last week before the final exam!

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Some candids from posing for the carnet photo.

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Los Guineos’ youngest health promoter!

Before they could graduate, my health promoters all had to demonstrate how to correctly use a condom. They got really competitive.

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Chicas Brillantes is a group for girls from 8 to 17 (I couldn’t turn the younger ones away…you try doing it!). We hang out and talk about health, values, family, friendship, love, gender and anything else that comes up. Recently we watched Mean Girls or, Chicas Malas, to talk about what it means to be friends with other girls.

Boy, is writing boring! Enjoy some pictures!

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A special night class!

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Showing off their decorated diaries!

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Painting nails during a thunderstorm.

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Our group contract.

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Every week we focus on one word and then add it to the charla paper.

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Being a goofball.

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The girls who were on time for group! A miracle!

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An evening photo shoot they decided to have while I was cleaning my house. Cool guys.

If you haven’t heard of Chikungunya, you should google it.

Here’s an excerpt from the handy wikipedia page: “According to the initial 1955 report about the epidemiology of the disease, the term ‘chikungunya’ is derived from the Makonde root verb kungunyala, meaning to dry up or become contorted. In concurrent research, Robinson glossed the Makonde term more specifically as “that which bends up.”

Okay whatever, contortion, bending up, however you spin it – it happens because of PAIN.

And I didn’t even get it that bad. I was in bed for nearly the entirety of two days. My community gifted me lots of food which made me all weepy but I let it sit around as decoration since I wasn’t into the whole eating thing.

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My bad ass host mom machete-ing open a coconut for me.

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Coconut water brought me back.

Oh and did I forget to mention the full body rash? My host mom made a polvo from dried yucca to soothe my sad skin.

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Besides joint pain every now and then, I’m A-OK. And the joint pain, let’s face it, might just be from old age.