The Chemainus Rotary Team wasted no time getting to work with ground preparation for house number one and plans for rebuilding house number two.
San Antonio-our home for next two weeks
Kathleen is helping local residents who require help with securing and following directions with their medications.
On Friday afternoon we completed our 50 bed objective. We celebrated with the driving of the last spike at the women’s center. The last bed was delivered to Herman, a touching story you will read about later. I am behind because we lost the internet yesterday so stay tuned. Today everybody but Butch jumped into two Tuk-Tuks and headed for Panajachel. “What a blast”. We bartered our little hearts out and always ended up spending more than we should have.Many laughs, mucho cerveza.
Special thanks to Joan’s granddaughter Pyka who is following our blog and told her grandmother to give the ten dollars she got for Valentines Day to the poor children and she will repay her when she gets back. Thank you Pyka.
One of the main projects we came to Guatemala to do is making beds for people who were sleeping on the dirt floors. A huge thank you goes to Graham Calder from Nanaimo who proceeded us and created the design and templates for us to accomplish our goal. Graham found a ex Canadian who lives in San Antonio Palopo with a complete wood working shop. Thomas was most gracious in letting us use his shop and helping us cut the wood required for the beds. This was a difficult job because the wood used was a tree the day before. Graham and Thomas with help from David pre-cut 30 beds for us to assemble. Butch from our group and Thomas continued where Graham left off and are continuing to cut wood for our planned 50 beds, some single , some double. While Butch cut wood Art and Len assembled the kits already made. A truck was rented to bring the beds to the Casita Women’s Centre . After a hard day’s work the thought of carrying the truckload of wood up the stairs was daunting. As we started unloading six small boys appeared out of thin air and started to haul the beds up the stone steps in bare feet. Where we were carrying one board at a time the small boys carried two or three. Finally we just let them do it! With smiles on their faces the boys were excited to get the one quetzale coins we gave them. ( About $0.15 )
The word went out through the unknown network and the next day las mujers ( the women) were lined up to get their beds. The rules were they had to arrange to get the beds to their house by themselves or by hiring help. Most carried the bed slats on their heads and got help with the frames. Art and Len were surprised and pleased to get a big hug from the tiny ladies. You cannot begin to imagine how much the beds mean to these families. Art and Daphne were able to follow some beds home to capture the reaction of these people. The pictures speak for themselves.
Part of our Rotary funds are gong to buy lamina. You might know this as corrugated steel but here it is very thin. There is a great need for this material to redo leaky roofs. Because we can only provide so much material the girls of the Casita Women’s Center had prepared a list of the most needy. A family might get one , two or three sheets even though they really need more. The lamina was brought to a storage yard and the next morning the call went out through I am not sure what communications network and the women showed up to get their allotment. Shelley, Colleen, Ellen and Daphne joined the chaos to make sure everyone got their share. The sheets are not too heavy but when you have three of them they are. It was quite a site to see the women with sheets of lamia on their heads heading up the mountain. Our Rotary team will go to some of the homes to help with the installation.
Stepping out of the van Sunday night we were all struck by the amazing beauty of this place. We wallowed in the warm air, looked up the mountain at the unusual structures and watched the colorful people. The busy day was topped of with cool drinks and fine food then a stunning sunset over the lake. Monday morning we took in more of the beauty from our hotel deck then walked down town to meet our local Guatemalan project guides, all colorfully dressed remarkable young women. In the afternoon we divided into groups to visit the people we came to help. This is when the contrasts started to set in. We met colorful happy people and extremely sad people, busy entrepreneurs and people who have absolutely nothing. As the day progressed we all began to discover what wonderful , caring and hard working people live here. We each also had stories at the end of the day that made us want to get to work to see what we could do.
In this blog I will show you some images that show the charm and beauty of this small city. The next blog will not be as happy, as I will show you some of the very sad situations people are living in.