Friday, October 29, 2010

Kathy's second letter from San Antonio Palopo

Thursday, October 28
5 full days later.  Little by little I am taking in all the damage done - the hardest being what I hear in people's voices as I listen to their mudslide stories, and what I see in their eyes.  I've been out in a boat and counted up to 14 slides of varying sizes in the surrounding hills - just around San Antonio.  Santa Catarina has fewer but there is one major one - pretty scary.

On the 'up' side is the work that was just beginning to take shape as I left in April last spring.  We rented a space and hired 2 women.  One nearly full time and one part time, and working along with a 'board of directors' they began a 'social centre' called Associacion Qa Winak' (nuestra gente or our people).  The purpose was multifold.  To work with women to help them improve their Spanish, to learn more about health, hygiene, family planning, raising children, self esteem, and the environment and to work with  children in many different areas.  Some just come for some caring recreation, activities and games often related to a particular theme, to do handwork like drawing and painting and to work with various materials.  They are separated into 2 groups according to age, necessary because there are so many.  And then there are young students who come on the weekends to study mathematics and learn better studying techniques.  The women are really excited about the centre and have worked out some of the kinks.  Felipa, who is working as coordinator, says it was a challenge for her to be in charge (Jefe) as she has always just worked for other people. Brenda is enjoying it so much she has volunteered well beyond the hours she's paid for.  Felipa's husband Francisco is very involved on a volunteer basis.  I will visit all the activities in the next 2 or 3 days. We had a short meeting last evening and discussed ideas for the next 2 months, I got much more detail about what they have been doing so far, and look forward to getting students we have sponsored involved during their holidays.  Perhaps also expanding the children's program during this time.  Saturday morning Brenda and a sponsored student volunteer, Maria del Carmen, are going to make kites with the children.... many of whom can't afford them.

Right now there are kites flying whenever the wind comes up in practice for Monday and Tuesday - All Saints Day and The Day of the Dead.  It is just lovely to see them dancing in the sky. Evidently last year there was no wind on those days.  It looks pretty good for this year!

And I must stop here and go visit some folks I haven't seen yet.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your incredible support.

Warm regards, Kathy

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