Another week down and this one flew by! It was the first of many busy weeks. Next week will be pretty crazy too. Earlier in the blog, I talked about how the main focus of our program will be education through informal education, or giving “charlas.” This week we had to practice putting one together but we could at least present this one in English. I gave mine on trash (which I will talk more about later) and Mat gave a charla on hygiene habits. However, I did hit a little snag in the road when at the turn of Wednesday (literally at midnight) I awoke with the sudden urge to dispel of all of my bodily fluids from any way possible. I had my first encounter with food poisoning. It was about 11 hours of hell which made preparing an awesome charla difficult, however it was in front of my peers who definitely understood!
Friday was a big day too. My group is already giving charlas in Spanish in Duenas. On Wednesday, my sick day, my group learned how to vaccinate dogs and then gave a little charla in the Puesto de Salud on nutrition. It went well even with the shaky Spanish and if it didn’t, everyone had a good laugh at the gringos. And that brings us to Friday when we ran all around the Duenas area. We went into the Aldea Rosario (an Aldea is a small town or towns that are near a bigger city or town) to watch one of our health promotoras give a charla. We arrived after driving in the back of a pickup for 20 minutes up the mountain and gathered in a family home where about 10 or 12 women and some of their children joined us. There home served as a passageway between the river and the street so random people would venture through the house, including two vacas or cows. Yep those vacas walked straight through the charla. It was fabulous. We were pretty high up and there were some of the most beautiful flowers that I have ever seen. The people of Rosario were incredibly generous and gave us tons of peaches and pears which were delicious. At one point, a little girl asked me to come over to her, so I did. She said, “can I have some pisto (money) gringa?” Ooops. Sorry little Chiquita, but I am a volunteer and no tengo pisto.
Later that day, we were scheduled to give a charla to some young people (edades 17-21) about HIV/AIDS. Here was the catch. It was in the Catholic Church. AND we could not say the word contraception or condom. Hmmm. A bit of a predicament. We were not supposed to say anything about sex either but we went ahead and gave a disclaimer before hand and did it anyway. How can you give a talk on the transmission of HIV/AIDS with out discussing unprotected sex? When it came to the prevention part, we stressed abstinence (gulp, sweat), fidelity, and education. Literally minutes before the charla began our health promoter explicitly told us not to say condom even though we had obviously planned to talk about protection. The charla was even opened with a 10 minute long prayer. It went well and our Spanish skills were hilarious after a 12 hour day of nonstop Spanish but we did and that is what counts. Next week we have to give an official charla. Mine is going to be on hygiene habits at the local library with about 30 kids. I’m not too nervous because this whole country is so patient and forgiving. I do have to start from scratch in terms of material since I did my charla on trash before. Games and activities!!! Mucho!