24 October 2011

Busy with Trips

Things have been pretty busy down here these last couple of weeks. As Jeff already wrote, we went around town to the various schools for World Handwashing Day, and even though most of the plan fell through, we capacitar-ed a couple hundred kids in how to wash their hands! We've also been traveling a little bit for fun (mostly), and are about to be traveling a bit for work. A few weeks ago we headed down to Salamá and Campamento for the Olancho Pueblo Crawl, one of the first officially approved gatherings of more than 10 volunteers. We want to give a shout out to our country director Emily for letting that continue. Those of us still here in Olancho after the removal of volunteers from the Catacamas area wanted to put Olancho back on the map, and show everyone that we can be visited (safely, and within the rules), and nothing bad will happen to them. And guess what? Nothing bad DID happen, people were responsible, and we had a ton of fun!

Last Thursday one of the Honduran league teams, Motagua, played against the LA Galaxy (you know, that team David Beckham and Landon Donovan are on?) in Teguz. Jeff and I decided that attending would be great fun, since one of Jeff's favourite pasttimes is belligerently yelling obnoxious things at fútbolistas. One of our almost-neighbors, Emily from Guaimaca, coordinated an official trip, complete with a busito to transport us and Juan Carlos, our S&S coordinator to escort us. A great time was had by all. Unfortunately, Jeff got robbed.


Well, technically, I didn't get robbed, but I did have an official security incident. More on that later. We had an uneventful trip to Teguz, and got some business done at the office, then met up with the 30ish other Volunteers going to the game and took a busito there. We had nice seats, but I never used one, of course. Tickets here are for a section, not for a seat, and our section was behind the benches. I spent the game hanging out with some new Honduran friends on the fence 10 meters from the Galaxy bench. I wore my DC United shirt and got some double takes from the Galaxy players when they looked over at my English, and then snapping their head back at the United jersey and additional provocative English. The game was a fun one to watch, even with only one goal, but it was a delightful strike from distance. I enjoyed yelling at Bruce Arena a lot, and I know he heard me.

Found a ESPN article about the Honduran love of Beckham and coverage of the game. While not identified by name, it quotes me without quoting. My 15 seconds of fame are most of the way through the article. Read the article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/soccer/post/_/id/11698/galaxy-adoring-hondurans-stun-l-a
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After the game, the bus dropped a few people off at the hotel and picked up a few more and headed to a club for dancing. It was awesome to be able to dance. Unfortunately, I ran into a pickpocket there. She danced with me a bit, then when she left I noticed that my front pockets were empty! Good thing I'm a compulsive pocket checker. My phone, my cash, and my ID and bank card were gone. I quickly snagged her, as she wasn't far away, and asked her where my phone was. She said she didn't have it. I didn't believe, grabbed her pockets and took my cash out of one of them. She went into the bathroom, and I asked two Honduran guys waiting to not let her leave because she robbed me. I went and got a PCV that is a native Spanish speaker to help, and then a bouncer. She came out, the bouncer took her outside, and other staff found my cards in the trash can, but no phone. She continued to deny having my phone, so the police were called. They sat her in the back of their pickup truck and questioned her, she denied everything. They told me they couldn't search her because they were all male, and there wasn't much they could do. At this point, half of my phone was found between the cab and the bed of the truck. I had a slider phone, and the screen half magically showed up! Still didn't find the other half, but after that the police took her and put her in jail for 24 hours. Juan Carlos talked with the police in the morning after and they found the other half in the truck after searching in daylight, so I'll get that back, with my memory card and game photos, eventually. So all in all, not a terrible encounter with a pickpocket.

I feel that this could have happened to me anywhere, not just here in Honduras, and the outcome was good because I wasn't fall down drunk and have good awareness habits. I didn't have more than I needed which reduced the amount of stuff I could have lost, even though everything was recovered, albeit in more pieces than it was taken, and that was only because she was angry and spiteful. Technically, I was only the victim of theft, as a robbery is taking with the use or threat of force while theft covers pickpocketing and taking laptops left on tables.

In a bit, I have another trip to Teguz for a medical appointment and then I'm headed further west from there to do a bit of work and visiting with friends. In between, I've got classes to give at the high school and elementary school to keep me busy.

After a month of not much, the past three weeks have been chock-a-block with stuff, and it's been awesome!

14 October 2011

Lavarse Las Manos!

The 15th of October is World Handwashing Day.  Since we received a dozen emails about it from Peace Corps, we decided to do something for it.  Sam did some thinking and drew up the basic plan: we would give charlas to the schools on Friday the 14th and have a contest where the kids would present skits or songs in groups on Saturday the 15th.  There was a stage set up in the central park for our town feria, which just ended, and we were going to use that.  We also put a song, called appropriately enough, Lavarse Las Manos, on the radio for the week.  It was recorded by a PCV a few years ago and is ridiculously catchy.  Doctor Octavio loves it.

We whipped this plan up in two weeks, presented it to the centro de salud, made a few changes, then wrote a solicitud for funding from the municipality.  We had a health promoter to go around presenting with us, and I had found a truck to borrow to get us everywhere in time. We talked with several of the schools and everyone involved was excited and things looked awesome.  Then as this week went on, almost the entire plan fell apart.

Wednesday we found out that the health promoter had a meeting on Friday, so he couldn't go, and without him we couldn't use the truck.  There is a lot of paperwork involved for a PCV to get permission to drive, and it wasn't happening in two days.  That was a loss, but after our 6th grade sex ed class we talked with the sub director (vice principal) at the big elementary school and confirmed our plans for Friday.  He even promised to have the night watchman turn the water on to fill the pilla Thursday night.  However, between him and the Directora at the highschool, we decided to cut the Saturday contest because they had run out of time to create skits.  Thursday, we found out that the municipality wasn't able to fund the things we asked for, which wasn't much.  Soap and bowls and a few prizes for the competition, which was fine because it wasn't happening anymore.  I also went to the smaller elementary school and talked to the teacher there about presenting on Friday, but they were not going to have class, it was going to be a four day holiday weekend!  So I made plans to go present the charlita at 0800 Tuesday morning.  We also make our charla papers to be ready.

Friday rolls around, and unsure if the night watchman actually turned the water on, Sam rode over to the school at 0730 to check if we would need to haul the water we need for handwashing demonstrations.  There was water, the pilla was full!  Awesome!  However, there were suspiciously few kids around, and no teachers.  Sam talked to them and found out there was no class today!  They were having a four day weekend too!  We were very surprised, sometimes things change but to have confirmed on Wednesday for a presentation TWO days later on a Friday, and to show up to find there was a holiday was a bit much, even for Honduras.

All was not lost, however.  We confirmed with the high school that they did indeed have classes, and we were still on track for our original 1330 time.  We went over, and gave 3 short presentations to a total of 78 high school kids about the importance of handwashing, shared the song with them, and then we all washed our hands properly.  Success! AND we have plans for Tuesday.  Not all that we had originally planned for, but with only two weeks notice and Honduras, I think we did pretty well for World Handwashing Day.

And because I was asked, here is the song we taught them.

¡Lavarse las manos!    
*Lavarse, lavarse las manos
 C       C      F     C
Lavarse, lavarse para su salud
 C       C      F     G
Antes de comer y después del baño
 C       C      F        C
Combatimos los microbios
 C    F    G    C
Combatimos los microbios
C    F    G    C

Los microbios no se miran (pero)
     C            F
Hay muchos en el cuerpo
     C            F
Si no se mantiene limpio
     C            F
Tendrá muchos microbios (¡Qué feo!)
     G            C

* Repetir

Wash, wash your hands
Wash, wash for your health.
Before you eat and after the bathroom
Combating microbes
Combating microbes

You can't see microbes (but)
You have lots on your body
If you don't keep it clean
You will have lots of microbes.  (How ugly!)