Posted by: Jessica | September 2, 2011

Back from the hiatus

Aug. 29, 2011

So, once upon a time I had a blog, which I occasionally wrote in, and lately I’ve been thinking I should start it up again. I can’t honestly say I haven’t had the time to write, because we all know better, but I’ll have to blame it being a chronically poor journal-writer. It’s a problem I’ve had since childhood. That said, I think the evidence is compelling that I’ve been focusing my attentions in other efforts, and my first year here in El Salvador has been busy. Maybe I should summarize here a few of the projects that have been keeping me busy these last 8 months…

My shampoo group is still going strong, with fewer members now, but very committed to producing and selling 80 bottles of natural aloe shampoo in the surrounding 5 communities.

In the last few months I’ve been working with our ADESCO ‘town council’ to improve our community’s water system infrastructure, which has included getting $500 from Appropriate Projects International to build a second water holding tank to provide running water to more houses in the community for more hours during the day.

Work has also taken me to San salvador a lot for rehearsals and performances of an original musical written by a previous Peace Corps volunteer, Kali Rosenberg. Kali is part of the Gender and Development committee, along with me and 6 other volunteers. We worked with a youth theatre group from the center of San Salvador to stage the musical, and we’ve been completing a tour or the musical in 7 of the 14 departments of El Sal. Peace Corps volunteers have been bringing students from their villages and towns to come see the play, which touches on themes of safer sex, gender equality, gender stereotypes, goal setting, and preventing family violence. It has required a big time commitment from all of us on GAD, but it has been one of the projects I’m most proud of.

Other projects have included selling Stoveteam International stoves and delivering them to my community- a project I’ll be doing again next month with two other volunteers who live close, an overnight camp for mothers and health promotors (working in collaboration with 4 other female volunteers in my region), a boys soccer tournament (we won!), and getting a USAID SPA grant to improve our school. I also am in charge of 6 students with scholarships to attend high school and college through Aid El Salvador. This responsibility has been an often stressful one, as raising money for the scholarships has proved difficult ( how many times can you reasonably ask family and friends for donations?), and Aid El Salvador has turned out to be a pretty poorly managed joint on the U.S. side, with managers not returning correspondence, and in July, insufficient funds. I’m really hoping they’ll improve in the future.

In other news, my health here seems to be getting a lot better than it has been for most of this year. (Of course, not that I say that I’ll probably get Dengue fever, right?). After several bouts with parasites and bacterial infections from food and a hospital visit, I’m hoping I’ve built up enough resistances to keep me relatively healthy this next year.

Though life here is anything but ‘normal’, things have seemed to have normalized for the time being. My vegetable garden may actually produce a few cucumbers and pumpkins, my dog, Indi, is almost a year old, and I seem to have learned, more or less, how to live on $300 a month. The other big ‘development’ in my life is my 8 month relationship with my boyfriend, Moises, which has surprised a lot of people, including me. He’s from San Salvador, but he’s been accepted generously by my host community, and sometimes I feel like he’s a better volunteer than me- he’ll play soccer or Uno or monopoly with the kids in my village for hours. He’s also been an amazing source of moral support to me during those darker moments over the months. We’re both hoping he’ll be able to make a trip with me next year to visit the states.

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Responses

  1. Love the picture – you look b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!!!!! as usual. It sounds like you have been keeping youself quite busy and I hope you have had some “fun” time. It sounded like you might be coming to visit some time soon – October?? – and if you do I hope you have time for a hug. I hope all of your projects go well and I know that what you do for your community is so appreciated.

    I spent 10 days in Florida visiting the Fultons and Charlene joined us for several of those days. We had lots of laughs and kept busy, although I did have time to finish a book which is good for me as I am such a slow reader.

    I saw the pictures of your Mom’s visit and they were great. I am sure you enjoyed spending time with Glo & Chuck. There were also some nice pics of you and Moises. I could not believe how green the landscape was in some of them. Where was it?

    Miss you bunches and think of you often. You are always in my prayers. Sending you lots of love & hugs, Aunt Barbara


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