Living like a local was both physically and mentally stressful. The night before our day, we turned off all electricity and running water. The majority of the delegation has never experienced what life without these two things is like. So to say the least, we had an experience of a life time.
Our day began with an early 6:30am wake up call and a cold bucket shower. For most of us, this was our first time taking a bucket shower. We also ate on a budget of $2 for the day which was a first for many of us. For example, in the morning we ate bread with hot chocolate, for lunch we ate chicken soup, and for dinner we ate yucca with salami. It was satisfying but simple.
After breakfast we had what we call “Sandy Time!” Sandy is our dedicated bus driver who provides us with fun music and safe transportation. He drove us to two different under-resourced communities – Rio Grande and Villa Popi. Although Villa Popi had nicer looking homes, the truth is that the stability of the community is only in its appearance. In reality, the government took their old houses and burned them down in front of them in order to evacuate the people in order to use the lang. After significant political pressure, the government finally agreed to create a new space for the people whose houses they burn down. The farm land was still taken over by the government but the government built homes farther down the mountain for the people who they had forced evacuation. This community is known as Villa Popi. Although it was a nice gesture for the government to rebuilt houses for the people of Villa Poppy, most families are still struggling financially do to not have jobs. The families are currently being given a monthly subsidy but in six months, the government will stop all financial support. The community just below Villa Poppy is known as Rio Grande. Rio Grande looks more run down than Villa Poppy but the families there have more money and resources. This may all sounds bad but from our experience spending the day with families in both communities, we can say that they are they are the happiest and most grateful people we have ever met. With the Rio Grande people we were able to gather ideas on what their community needs in order to create a better lifestyle for that generation and future generations.
After we headed back to the hotel, we brainstormed what all the leaders of the Rio Grande community wanted and came to an agreement that we would build a basketball court, teach families how to keep the basketball court clean, and remodel a simple park that has benches and flower pots.
Next on the agenda was self reflection time. We understood that a day like this would bring a lot of different emotions to the group and it was important to talk about our emotions and thoughts. Each member of the delegation appreciates a time like this since we are able to remind ourselves of how grateful we should be of what we have back home such as education, electricity, homes, and clean water.
Marlen and Nicole
Family Messages: (more messages posted on tomorrow’s blog)
“Hi family!! Hope you’re doing well. Miss you!” -Emma
“I love you mom and dad! Miss you!” -Kelly
“Hi mom I miss you and hope you’re surviving without me!” -Andrew D.
“Hi Sami I miss you and hope you are not missing me too much”- Nicole
“Hey mom and dad! Miss you! See you soon!!! <3” -Marlen