Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carnival Comes to the Family Support Center!

For days and weeks the Family Support Center children and youth have been cutting pica pica (confetti) and preparing for the Carnival celebration.  They saved egg shells, decorated them, and filled them with homemade confetti.

Because of this once-a-year celebration, Pop Wuj students traveled out to Llanos del Pinal on Tuesday of last week.  We intended to work on homework, read, and then "jugar cascarones" for Carnival.  However most kids didn't have homework and had already read by the time we arrived.

Alex, a current Pop Wuj student, brought his violin/fiddle and got to work entertaining the kids with songs in English and in Spanish.  The music even continued outside during recess.

Then we finally came together to crack eggshells over each others heads in celebration of Carnival.  Each child received 5 cascarones and the fun started on the count of three.  1, 2, 3!

Ay, pero como pica!

What a happy mess!

Monday, February 23, 2015

El Día de San Valentin: A Two-Part Celebration

Valentine's Day, El Día del Cariño, El Día de Amistad, El Día de San Valentin, whatever you want to call it, we celebrated with a two-part celebration on February 12th and February 13th at the Family Support Center.

On Thursday afternoon we shared the story of St. Valentine and conducted an activity with the children and youth.  Each child received a red heart with the words "¿Que es amistad?" (What is friendship?) written on it.  Each participant wrote their answer on the back of the heart and then we exchanged hearts.  The new owner of the heart then read their peer's answer.  Sharing was a common theme, as was "not saying bad words."  Ha!  The project participants then exchanged chocolates and a giant Valentine's Day card with Pop Wuj. 

Santos, sharing the story of San Valentin

Pop Wuj students and project participants working on their hearts

Enjoying white chocolate truffles
On Friday morning Carmencita and Amy returned to Llanos del Pinal with quite a haul of ice cream and toppings.  We made banana splits to share with the children and youth.  Unfortunately there was no school in Llanos on Friday, but fortunately that meant that we were able to share the ice cream with a large group of kids!  The participants that attend the project in the afternoon enjoyed their banana splits in the afternoon.

Lidia, dishing up the ice cream

Maria, adding the chocolate syrup

Homework didn't stop because we had ice cream

Las hermanas!

Concentrating hard on their ice cream

Auri, Norma, and Amy with their ice cream

After eating their banana splits, the kiddos claimed to be so cold that they needed to go outside to be warmed up by the sunshine (and the playground).

 All in all, it was a great two-day celebration in Llanos del Pinal!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Visit Quetzaltenango--Android App Available!

If you have an Android device you can now access information about Xela via the Visit Quetzaltenango app.

Visit Quetzaltenango, a complete guide for your next trip to this great city in Guatemala! We are a high quality virtual guide on your Android Device. You will have a full and updated description of the city of Quetzaltenango with places to go, places to visit off the beaten track, and ideas where to eat, sleep, drink, volunteer, get medical services and to learn Spanish before you arrive or when you are already there.

Check it out!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

High Season in the Medical Program!

We have a full house this month in the Medical Spanish Program!  We are programming double clinics and seeing patients in Xela, in our mobile clinics, and holding nutrition meetings every week.

Most of our current students are residents or fourth year medical students, with a few nurses mixed in too! 

Medical check-ups at the Family Support Center in Llanos del Pinal

The "waiting room" during the health check-ups at the Family Support Center

Students and staff maintaining the electronic medical records during the health check-ups at the Family Support Center

Triage station at the Chirijquiac mobile clinic

Filling meds in pharmacy in Chirijquiac

Explaining medications in Chirijquiac

Patient health education in Chirijquiac

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Back to School: The First Scholarship Meetings of 2015

Text and photos by Amy Scheuren

Last week Carmen and I kicked off the 2015 Scholarship Program by visiting Chirijquiac and San Juan Ostuncalco, two of Pop Wuj's Scholarship communities.

We piggybacked on the medical program and shared transportation to their mobile clinic on Wednesday in Chirijquiac.  Many of the scholarship families were also patients in the clinic.

Carmen with the parents of the scholarship students in Chirijquiac

Carmen, discussing the importance of having all of the women speak up during the meetings
Three young women from our group graduated from high school in 2014.  Sadly, due to extreme family and economic circumstances, two other students had to drop out of school.  Both of them are now working to support their family.  As a result we had some new faces at the meeting, welcoming four new students to the program.  We also have three other potential new scholarship students in this group.

Neighbors preparing the dry fields for the upcoming rainy season

Dusty but beautiful, Chirijquiac
On Friday Carmen and I traveled to San Juan Ostuncalco for their first scholarship meeting of 2015.  The San Juan group is generally lively and this day was no different.  We discussed how the group is source of support for the mothers and students.  Simply coming together to discuss the latest challenges and triumphs in their families can make such a difference.  We emphasized the collective interest of the group and heard from many of the women as we discussed common superstitions in the community.  The San Juan group continues to consist of 14 scholarship students -- the same 14 as in 2014.  We now have three students in university!  Siguen adelante!

Carmen, facilitating the scholarship meeting

Mothers and children in San Juan

The San Juan Ostuncalco Virgen de Candelaria celebration is going on in town right now. 
I wouldn't trust that Ferris wheel!