Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adios from Jacqueline - until January 2012

As I leave Guatemala after three months I am thankful for all that has happened and the positive impact of our three new projects. The greatest joy was to watch the children in their non-stop play and laughter enjoying the newly installed playground equipment.

This project, sponsored by ICO and funded by Rotary Nelson, services close to 1,000 children and is in full use by the schools for gym classes and recess. It was very special to cut the ribbons at the opening ceremony on a day of great fiesta and sing together the national anthem with heart felt emotion. 

Our initiative for the elders that we are fondly calling our ancianos, has met a real need in San Antonio Palopo. The group consists of fifteen tiny women in their 70s and 80s that look forward immensely to the hotmeal provided on Fridays and an activity that follows. As we listen to their stories, often through tears, we begin to realize that this demographic group suffers deeply. The new generation of young families live in crowded spaces with many children and mounting expenses with no space or money left for the elders. In earlier years they would be part of the household. Yesterday I attended a first birthday celebration for the child of a single Mum, and later in the day the traditional wake around the coffin of Nicolasia, our anciana who sucumbed quickly to pnemonia. Such is the ebb and flow of life. Our excursion around the lake to San Lucas Toliman was a huge success and enjoyed by all the elders. 

Another first this year has been the dental clinic. I have a number of speaking engagements lined up to procure funding for the mobile unit which we realize is essential to aid these communities. The dental work linked with dental education will continue to make a big difference in the general health of those who cannot afford the service and are unaware of the importance of oral hygiene. It was a learning experiece to work with Dr. Juan Jose (John Snively) as I held the patients and he pulled the teeth under some very primitive conditions. We were able to present dental hygiene classes in all the classrooms in town and to many women's groups. This is the way to improve the dental health of the communities in the future.

In all these projects we are honoured to have young Mayan leaders doing an excellent job.

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