Monday, August 22, 2011
One of the best parts of my job (of which there are many) is going to the local communities. These are some of the most rural places I’ve seen in my life. We drive anywhere from 10-45 minutes away from Okinawa (one of the last vestiges of civilization as you leave Montero. It is quite literally where the paved road ends.
Yet these communities full of life (some more than others), they have houses, small stores, and each has a school with a playground. We arrive each week sounding our horn to announce our approach. Morning or afternoon children seem to swarm from the woodwork. They come out of huts, houses, trees, and anywhere else you’d expect to find a child, and some you wouldn’t.
In the mornings we are almost always interrupting their elementary school to the dismay of both teachers and students. Yet mornings remain the better option due to an increased turnout, usually 2-3 times as many kids.
Once on site, our primary goal in this is to reach out. Our days usually start with a Christian video. Boy would I LOVE to get my hands on some Spanish Veggie Tales! We follow that with a crafts period where we paint or color a picture about God. Then comes my favorite part; play time. We bring all sorts of games: yo-yos, play-dough, color pencils, basketballs, baseball bats and balls, footballs, soccer balls, chalk, and anything else kids love to play with.
Play time can be anything we want, ranging from an organized soccer game to a group of kids playing with yo-yos. It is really my time to just enjoy chilling with the kids and tap into my inner child, as many of you know I have an over abundance. Sometimes I make up different variations of games we’ve all played (Simon says has become Ninja Master Says).
Some of my favorite community days have been completely random. Once there was a mattress sitting out and the kids were doing flips onto it. I ended up picking them up and tossing them onto the mattress which they all loved.
Another time I rolled in a cow pie cuz I was being a dork and somersaulting over the wrong type of pasture.
Sometimes the volunteers even get to talk to the kids for a while. Every time I get to see just how lucky I am. Which leads me into a few short stories, I hope you like.
First a little background, Bolivians are blunt. Tact is not a word they use or even care about. They either blatantly lie, or tell the truth as it is. Lying is a part of their culture, for example, they don’t say “I’m joking” they say “I’m lying” instead. What do you expect from a culture that thinks that to joke means to lie?
On the flip side they are brutally honest. Another example, one of the kids asked why I was fat. I wasn’t offended (you grow a thicker skin or go home) and responded that it was cuz I eat a lot. She said, “yeah me too and grabbed her belly.” Seriously? I mean where is the tact, the backhanded compliments or insults, the white lies, and everything else that runs American politics?
Alright so now you know that they either blatantly lie or are brutally honest. Well when you ask someone a question you either get a pathetic lie without any consistency, or the brutal honesty.
This comes with its own lesson, be careful what you ask cuz you just might hear something you can’t un-hear.
Last week Carmen heard a story about a little boy. The little boy was wearing an orange shirt, had a adorable smile and big long eye lashes (according to Carmen). Carmen said, “Wow, I love your eyelashes!”
The boy responds, “Yeah my twin has the same eyelashes.”
Carmen followed up with, “Where is your twin?”
The boy responded, “He is at home. When he was a little baby he got run over by a car and has one leg that is shorter than the other. He can’t walk so he doesn’t come.”
Carmen asked something along the lines of, “Is he home with your dad?”
The boy responded, “No, my dad is really mean. When he would get angry he used to stand on my brother’s leg and hurt him as punishment. My dad isn’t here anymore because he’s in jail for being bad.”
I thought I’d escaped stories like this when I left Haiti… But what is there to do other than be a good role model for these kids. Honestly, who else is going to?