Tuesday, February 10, 2009

(October 2008) Time for a Break . . . in Guatemala!

Stove construction is off! I don’t know how . . . but once we started construction, everything worked as it was supposed to! All the parts fit, I didn’t screw up the first stove (too badly) and all of a sudden 36 women are trained and making stoves all over the place that I can’t even keep count of who has finished and who hasn’t! In the last two weeks of October, I was helping make two stoves a day, 6 days a week. In general, I helped make two stoves per group. The first time facilitating construction and the second time watching to make sure they for sure get it. So by the end of October, I was exhausted but in a good productive way. The way that makes you want a vacation but also feel like you really deserve it!

So my friend, Susan, (Municipal Development volunteer) and I decided to go to Guatemala for a couple of weeks after a Halloween party in Copan Ruinas. Unfortunately, I got my camera stolen and so photos of the trip are going to have to come later when I can get them from Susan.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to visit an orphanage in Antigua, Guatemala. Susan has a friend who works in the orphanage and offered to let us stay at his place while we were in town. Our first night in Guatemala, he picked us up in downtown Antigua and after dropping our stuff off at his apartment, we went out to a bar to drink and chat. Orlando is head of the orphanage which is called “Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos” (Our Little Brothers). He has worked there for eight years and the orphanage has over 300 kids ranging in age from babies to adults. The great part about the orphanage is that it offers various workshops in carpentry, baking, and other activities so that when the children grow up and decide to leave the orphanage, they will be able to open a small business or have some experience to be able to find work. There is a basic school inside the orphanage as well and if the students want to continue their education, the orphanage pays for them to continue on to middle school or high school.

To my surprise, none of the kids can be adopted from the orphanage and, in general, it’s very hard to adopt children from Central American countries. I asked Orlando why it was so tough because, really, if families here don’t have the funds to take care of their children, there should be the option to adopt so the child can have a better life. I would have never guessed his response. Orlando explained to me that it’s dangerous to put kids up for adoption because . . . and yes, this reason stopped my heart too . . . people will adopt kids and then sell their organs on the black market. The next day, I found a Guatemalan newspaper and the front article was about an adoption agency that was a hoax. Basically, some people were claiming to be a valid adoption agency and had collected thousands of dollars from North Americans who wanted to adopt Guatemalan children and then disappeared with the money. It’s amazing what people are capable of and how much I’m still so naïve about.

(So I will try to get photos of the trip up as soon as possible. Sorry!)

1 comment:

Emily said...

Hi Courtney, I found your blog on the internet and have enjoyed reading about your experiences in Honduras. I was nominated for PAM Latin America leaving September. I was hoping to maybe get some details from you. I would love it if you could contact me! nichoek@yahoo.com