It has been about two months since we arrived in San Isidro, Belize, for the project period in our Fighting with The Poor program. On the first weeks we’ve spent most of our time adapting to the new lifestyle and understanding a bit from the Project Leader what were our goals on the project. For this part, we had two meeting with local leaders, as the head of the women’s group and the “mayor”, visited local families to get their point of view of the situation they lived in and made a quick trip to see what the other DI’s had done in the village of Aguacate where they were last year.
During this initial time, we had some free time that was put into making improvements in the house; we fixed a broken fridge, constructed our shower, closed leaks in the ceiling and bought new equipment necessary for our daily routine. We also spend quite some time playing with local kids, trying to understand a bit how life works in the village and how is the relation between family members and neighbors. After a couple of weeks, we felt more comfortable and could start some interaction with the locals.
The first step was to build an organic garden and compost with our host family in our backyard. We are still struggling to get it correct since nursery didn’t work out as we wished. At the same time, we started two other activities.
The first was with a local boy (19 years old), Mario Xi, who was introduced to us and expressed his wish to start a Youth Group, like he participated when he was a kid. So, we started planning the group, which finished yesterday. We will start with 10 meetings (once a week) involving the following topics: gardening, hygiene, garbage, recycling and environment. Next week, we will go to the school to invite the kids to join, preferably from 12-15 years of age.
The other was building a garden together with the students in the school. After five mornings, it is almost done, leaving just the door and the planting for next week. Also, we will need to create a planning and coordinate how the garden will be taken care since no one in the school has any experience in the subject and also vacation will soon start.For the coming weeks, we have two projects to work in.
The main one is to help Rosa, the leader of the women’s group, with a bureaucracy and get organized to get the fund from another NGO to start a chicken project.The side project will be done quickly and will consist of constructing a new pipeline in the school, to reach other classrooms since now there is a new water tank, which was donated by one other institution. We will need not only our work but also the help of volunteers (since it is heavy and needs to be lifted to the second floor) to get this done.
We also started a fundraising campaign at our countries, through a pool for the World Cup, so we can provide our host family and the school with a present as a thank you for receiving us in San Isidro and giving us the opportunity to work here. For the family, we will use the money to buy materials for the new house they are building, and for the school, we plan on paying for some materials it will be needed for the new pipeline.
It has been quite fun getting to know different people, how they think and more about their culture. Each time more, we feel more welcomed by the locals. We’ve been taking easily and step by step, to do things correctly and to gain each time more confidence of the local people and understand what are their needs and how we can do to help and work together toward that goal.
The main lesson we learned so far is to keep it simple and bond with the locals. We are working very much manually in the project, meaning not only theoretically, which shows us great difficulties which we need to overcome if we really want to get the ideas implemented. !
An example was in the schools where we had two days schedule by the principal, to work with the kids, but there were no classes on those days. Also, the daily life in the house is teaching us to cook, clean our own cloths by hand, fix damages and live together with at least three different cultures other than our own.
As individuals, the main learning is the way locals live in a very simple way. We don’t have much but we still live with health, fulfilling every basic need humans have. Life can be much simpler than we had ever imagined.