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February 14, 2015

Day 3o Friday, February 13, 2015

When we got into the truck to head out this morning, my eyes caught 2 separate families sitting on different sides of the road which got me off to a bad start, as I was so distressed looking at them. One, there was a mom who looked really worn down and 4 young children so poorly dressed with the young girl ( aboutimage image image image image image image image image image image 5) carrying her baby sister on her back in the traditional way. It looked like they had all their belongings tied up in big satchels beside them. The family across the street was even more worrisome and I just wanted to get out of the truck and see what I could possibly do to help them, which of course I couldn’t do. The people we are working with are very poor, but they seem to accept their situation and are always smiling and appear content, but these 2 families were not smiling and their distress was apparent. This morning we split into 2 groups and 2 different drivers. Liz and Jim continued on to document more stoves while the rest of us went with a gentleman from AMMID to see some of the work they are doing with the Mayan families high up on the mountain. They support many projects and at one point we got out of the truck to meet a group of women who are involved in an agricultural endeavour. Very rich agriculture land and beautiful peach trees in blossom and in one yard a huge avocado tree laden with avocados; cows ,chickens, pigs,sheep and another project which brings the people living so high up on the mountain pure water.  A firm in Ontario sponsored this project to provide filters to the families. The family finds a local stream and carries the water to their home which they pour into the filter, rather than boiling it. It was great to learn about this but these same families are still living in a room with what they call a 3 stone fire so they are cooking in creosote plagued areas of their home, which is often one room where they sleep, eat and play. Seldom a vehicle drives up the roads to these homes and because of this the parents feel that it is safe for their children to walk the one hour each way to the local school by themselves. Again, you see young and old walking along the road, often carrying heavy weights either on their heads or backs.  Lunch again today with one of the families who was fortunate enough to receive a stove, so kind and welcoming and several cute kids in the family, which is often hard to figure out as families live in one big compound usually. The children’s schooling is divided into 3 groups, primario( 1-6); basico(7-9); diversificado( 10-12). The primary students go in the mornings and the others go in the afternoons. We visited a school where 2 students GPS is sponsoring attend. They were all smiles and were asked how they are doing etc. Their  sponsorship at this time will only take them through basico and it will be assessed further on, depending on how the girls are doing, whether sponsorship will continue. The numbers dwindle past grade 6 as the families need money to pay for school expenses; those chosen for bursaries are very fortunate. And of course GPs is a volunteer run organization dependent on fundraising to provide the stoves, bursaries etc. We take so much for granted back home. There are so many “photo-ops ” here but you have to be careful as of course you cannot just take a photo when you feel like it and often as soon as you pull out your camera the children run and hide, full of giggles. When we got back to town, I went to the internet cafe to do my blog from the day before. There is seldom anyone in there but there seems to be several cafes offering this service. Also, ” tiendas”, snack stores are in abundance as well as ” panderias”, bakeries. Tonight we went to a lovely little cafe for our supper which was very clean and neat and served delicious food. I chanced the hamburger with egg and loved it. Lots of interesting sights on the way back to the hotel and again so many food stands set up and locals enjoying a bite for supper and seeing again 2 children carrying their young siblings on their backs is so heartwarming. Actually you seldom see a woman that is not carrying a child on her back: young girls; moms; grandmas. A life so different from our own. My experience here has been incredible and memorable.

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