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Week 4 in Colombia

posted in: 2011, Colombia - No Comments

June 7, 2011

This weekend was supposed to be a long weekend because Monday was a holiday, but we had to come in on Saturday because we were a behind on the distributions.  We came in on Saturday and there were a ton of people there – 85 families, which included over 50 children whose height and weight we had to take.  We should have been finished around noon, but there were problems with the internet (all the surveys and nutritional surveys are done online) and we ended up staying until after 2.  I hurried to get lunch, worried that I was going to get there and there would be no food. The women at my restaurant know I come every day so they had saved me food and I went home happy.

During the week Richard had organized a soccer game between the guys at IRD and a bank for Saturday night. I got a ride and we went to a “synthetic” field, the size of a basketball court with netting all around. The game was an hour long and it was back and forth, but we finally won 11-10 with Richard scoring the winning goal with less than a minute to go.  It was early evening and it was hot and it felt like the heat and humidity had grabbed and squeezed all t the juices out of me.  It’s been a long time since I sweat that much.  I scored 4 goals and afterwards one of the guys told me that he could tell I was Argentine.  I’m not sure what that meant, either that I was too offensive minded and played no defense or that I was scrappy, which is to make up for a lack of skill – either way I took it as a compliment.  We stayed afterwards and had a few beers, which was a little awkward for me because I was soaked in sweat.  It was nice though and on the way home I sat in the bed of the truck and saw what Tumaco is like at night as the wind cooled me off.  Halfway home, as an homage to Rick and Peace Corps, I stood up in the bed and road standing up the rest of the way – absolutely the best way to ride in the back of a truck.  After we got home from the game, my neighbor, who works for IRD, his girlfriend and another IRD guy and his girlfriend sat around the pool at my place drinking whiskey and not really talking.   READ MORE

Craft, art, and creativity in unexpected places

posted in: 2011, Mozambique - No Comments

June 10, 2011

A child demonstrates on the apparatus used to make woven reed mats

Mozambicans engage in a number of crafts for everyday purposes. For instance, when we have been out in the field, we often see homes with an interesting-looking apparatus for the weaving of reed mats (see picture). This is something that can be done at home with readily available materials, so it seems that many families just make their own mats rather than spending scarce money to buy one. For me, who can’t even mend a shirt, this is pretty impressive. I get excited and ask to take pictures, and people very kindly indulge me.

Even more impressive than the homemade reed mats are the houses and walls, which are constructed from extremely tightly woven palm fronds or reeds. I asked my IRD coworkers and they told me that these palm/reed houses can be constructed in less than a week, and then they last about 5 years. Wow. READ MORE

Miracles, Better Vision, and Better Life

posted in: 2011, Laos - No Comments

June 13, 2011

Pheangma and his grandmother, Chone

On a sunny afternoon, a 4-year-old boy donned in a green action figure t-shirt jumps around laughing and playing with his brother and friends. There’s nothing unusual about the scene. Lao children all over the country are doing the exact same thing on this particularly beautiful, hot and humid Thursday afternoon. For Pheangma, though, this mundane act is a miracle.

“Before Pheangma got his glasses we worried about him all the time. He couldn’t see anything more than a meter in front of his face. Our house is close to the road, and we constantly worried about him being hit by a car,” said Chone, Pheangma’s grandmother. She looked down at the piece of straw she was twiddling with her fingers as she spoke, remembering the constant anxiety she felt before Pheangma received his glasses. READ MORE

Those who sow in tears will reap songs of joy

posted in: 2011, Zimbabwe - No Comments

June 23, 2011

One of the beneficiaries proudly stands by her traditional Zimbabwean kitchen, which displays all the pots, pans, and utensils very decoratively; this is one example of numerous others that I saw in Buhera.

I just returned from a ten-day trip out to the field in Buhera District/Murambinda, which is in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, only three and half hours away from the capital of Harare. It was ten days of no internet, no television, 6 a.m. bucket baths and constant power cuts, and despite all this, I really enjoyed my time there. The people were kind and very friendly and I finally got the chance to practice what little Shona I have learned. With no rainfall since the early months of the year, the landscape in Buhera is filled with dry grass, green bushes and trees but clear blue skies and sunshine almost every day. READ MORE

Conditions in the Invasiónes: Hospitality in an Inhospitable Place

posted in: 2011, Colombia - No Comments

June 22, 2011

Me retrieving information from persons seeking humanitarian aid from IRD at the barrio of El Timi

Winter in Florencia is very different from winter in the northeast of the United States. There is no need for heavy coats, snow shovels or heaters here. Rather, one is well suited for the winter with a poncho, rain boots, and an umbrella. It rains almost all the time.  However, some days the temperature reaches 90 degrees with clear skies, which make for very, very hot days. I change shirts, socks, and sometimes pants every siesta because I’m either soaked from the rain or soaked from the sweat I worked up at IRD. There’s literally water everywhere—filling up potholes, causing rivers to rise several feet, seeping through house walls/tarps/wood that line people’s homes. But, like Coleridge penned, “nor any drop to drink.” READ MORE