PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS BLOG IS NOT A REPRESENTATION OF MY HOST COUNTRY OR OF THE PEACE CORPS.
So I realized that my last post did not tell you anything about the work I have been doing aka this is going to be a long one! I got too excited last time... Apologies. So my counterparts have continued to be incredible. I am very very lucky to be working alongside a group of people who are just as excited about getting me involved in their work as I am about doing it. Over the past month I have been doing a mural project in Becerro, one of rural communities that I have posted about before. Yesterday I completed my first big mural on lactancia materna exclusiva (exclusive breast feeding). We put a protective layer over the posters so that they'd last, but they aren't super photogenic now.. I'll let you get the idea anyways though.
And speaking of the project, it reminds me of a story that I never shared from one of the first times I was working on this project. Okay, backtracking (kind of like when Harry gets sucked into Tom Riddle's diary).. My friends who I'd gone to the finca with are both nurses at my pueblo's Casa Materna. Every 2 weeks, I believe, all the doctors and nurses have to do night shift, el turno. So after a long talk where I found myself as usual getting so excited about birth and women's health, they invited me to come and join them for their turno that week. They told me that there has been a lot of births recently during turnos because of our steady numbers of women who are staying at the Casa Materna (which is the greatest!). I agreed, was gifted some scrubs, and was all set to go. The night was full of fevers, people needing injections for pain (they're all about injections for EVERYTHING here), and keeping check in some pregnant women who had high blood pressure in the final weeks of their pregnancies. A poor little guy came in with his face all ripped up because he'd fallen off his bike. He was so nervous, but the doctors got him all stitched up like Frankenstein. There weren't any births that night... Of course and the next day I went back to Becerro to start the mural. We were cleaning up when we first arrived and the nurse, suuuuuper chill, was like "oh, look, there's a spider.." Continuing to go about her sweeping. I look down and this MASSIVE HAIRY SPIDER THE SIZE OF MY HANDS (okay I know they're not that big) WAS JUST HANGING OUT AT MY FEET. The doctor came in, kicked it, and it was swept out the door. I was pumped because I didn't have enough time to do something embarrassing like pee my pants, puke, or pass out as a fear reaction. I felt brave for being so suave about it. Then later, the doctor called me in to watch a "mini surgery" aka relieving this lady's ingrown toenails. Let me remind you, I watched all the vomiting, saw a boy who looked like he got massacred via face, almost got eaten by one of the spiders from the forbidden forest in the last 36 hours, but until I saw that lady's toe being cut open I was doing fine. Nope. Let me watch a birth, I don't want to see any more in grown toenails,ew ew ew. And speaking of births, I get back to the health center later that afternoon and some other doctors come running up to greet me saying, "Justine! There were 2 births in the centro today! We looked for you!".... Of course... All I wanted. It's great now though because I get kept up to date on all the births and everyone is awaiting my lucky moment to get to witness one. To be continued, obvi.
I've also had some cool opportunities to go on salidas to rural health posts in the outskirts of my municipality. From a site called La Pimienta, I could see the mountains of Honduras and we literally were off-roading in the MINSA truck to get up there, carrying pregnant women in the tail bed who were not even phased by the boulders we had to drive over and river crossings. That post was really quaint and I was just followed around all afternoon by some kids from the area who could not fathom the fact that my blue eyes were real and that even though I spoke English, I could also speak Spanish. Last week I went to La Consulta and that trip was the best yet. I got to hang out with my counterpart Antonia all day and run the gynecology clinic! The number of nervous hands I got to hold during the checkups was awesome. In a matter of 2.5 hours, we gave 11 PAPs and hold consultations with women of all ages about ways to control their pregnancies! That is HUGE! Down here there is an absurdly high number of women with HPV and cervical cancer, due to women's lack of access to gynecology services and STI testing. Long story short, I was pumped up that day and I am looking forward to more opportunities during future salidas to work with the beautiful women in the rest of the municipality.
Oh my days, I've also started to attend an Evangelical church in my town with one of my nurse friends. I. Love. It. It's super fun because a lot of the worship songs they sing are songs I've sung in English so I am able to actually join the congregation in praise! During every service, the church's youth dance group performs a routine after the worship set. Every time I've gone, my eyes have welled up with tears... It's just so beautiful to watch the Lord be worshipped with so many different talents and these kids do a beautiful job. I feel such a sense of community at this church which is something I've really missed about home. My first week, an older woman a couple rows ahead of me, walked back and gave me her bible when we were going over the scripture passages so that I'd be able to follow along with the beginning of the sermon. This past Sunday, I was asked for prayer requests! Shoot. Can I get an amen?!
My same friend who brought me to church started running with me this morning as well! It's pretty funny how accountable I am kept for my exercising routine. When I first moved here, I started running nearly every morning and now if I ever skip a day or decide to sleep in, the whole community knows about it. And people aren't afraid to be like "didn't see you running this morning... Sleeping or something?" I've even been introduced to people and the first thing they say to me is, "yeah I know you. You run every morning around 6. But come to think of it... You didn't run this past weekend." Haha I guess it only helps me stay motivated. And speaking of exercise, I've started doing yoga with the woman at the Casa Materna. We're still working on the element of relaxation and fluidity because they get too embarrassed by some moves and just sit up and laugh. They also think we should listen to reggae tone while we do it.. We'll get there.
Oh and the cutest thing I ever did experience, my counterparts threw a little birthday party for me and a brigadista after work last Friday. We did a little activity where everyone had to draw a picture symbolizing me and the brigadista and each needed to be presented after we ate. So it was the most precious thing ever and each little simple picture had such a beautiful meaning behind it. Also, everyone just all of a sudden had presents for me... It was the sweetest.
And other than that... I'm thinking my next investment will be a machete so that I can start cleaning up the garden at the Casa Materna so we can actually start planting! Super excited to get dirty.
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Hola, I'm Justine