Lauren's Peace Corps Experience in Honduras

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed and experiences described in this travelogue are mine personally. Nothing written here should be interpreted as official or unofficial Peace Corps literature or as sanctioned by the Peace Corps or the U.S. government. I have chosen to write about my experience online in order to update family and friends; I am earning no money whatsoever from this endeavor. Please do not copy or forward any of these contents without my permission.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Working with midwives...

Hi all! I hope everyone is doing well. Life is great right now...I have plenty of work to keep me busy. The only bummer at the moment is studying for the GREs. I am taking them in Tegucigalpa next month and started studying this week and have realized I remember next to nothing of high school algebra, geometry, angles, and other various simple equations. I am going to be putting in at least an hour a day but am not sure that will be enough, as I have flipped ahead the 100 or more pages of "key facts" I need to know...*sigh*.

Other than that...I am going home for Christmas! I finally decided to just do it since it sounded so good. I was going to spend the holidays here in my town with friends, but I wanna go home to see Wendi's big pregnant belly and see the family, since I am planning to extend an extra three months, and so that would put me going home for good in July 2007. I have already talked to my boss and he would love for me to extend, so that's that.

Last week I spent 5 days in a workshop in chilly La Esperanza, Intibucá, with midwives and other Peace Corps was really interesting interacting with the ladies, who all care so much about women and though they don't usually have formal educations, are full of information. A fellow PCV who is in her 60s named Debby and is the mother of us all helped lead the workshop as she is a nurse and practiced midwifery for 30 years in Rhode Island...she is an incredible lady. The purpose of the workshop was for them to learn more about emergencies in childbirth and signs of risk in pregnant women, and then learn how to prepare their own talks and workshops to give to other midwives back in their towns. They are not used to being treated as equals among medical professionals so it was really great to see them get the respect they deserve and to realize that there is a need that they can fill by educating other women. I got to pretend to be pregnant and about to give birth for a demonstration...I stuffed towels under my shirt and modeled my belly to the group of 45. I am pretty sure I want to use a midwife in the states when I go back and start a family, because it was so nice to have my hand held and feel complete trust in the midwife, who fusses over you, stroking your forehead and talking to you like your own mother would...a doctor in a hospital just isn't the same. I took a young health volunteer named Argentina from an aldea of Dulce Nombre, who isn't a midwife exactly as she's never attended a birth, but is eager to learn. I also took a young nurse, Margarita, from our health center. The last day of the workshop my trio paired up with another community's trio and they prepared a mini-workshop for a group of midwives and health volunteers in a poor community outside of La Esperanza. They did great, considering it was their first time as educators. By the end of the week we all felt like family and it was hard to say goodbye. The hotel (Cabañas Los Pinos) was incredible too, and every night after the agenda was spent I hung out with other PCVs in our rooms chatting.

Other than that, I am working with my youth group, doing sex ed and fundraisers and fun days with them. My stove project was just approved and supposedly is online for donors to start donating, but I can't find the page. I have written to the lady in charge and will let everyone know when they can start supporting the project.

Well that is all from here. I love you all and can't wait to see you in December!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reconnecting with my training group and visit to Pulhupanzak

Hi everyone!

I miss you guys! I kinda want to go home for Christmas but I am not sure yet if I'll have enough vacation days. It sort of depends on if I formally decide to extend my service. The more mom and I talk about it the more we both want me to go home for Christmas and to see the family! But we'll see...

Last week I spent in 'project workshop'. This means I got to see my original training group (minus Jason, Erin, David and Danielle, Lauren D., Jen, Karen and Bryon...who have all had to leave Peace Corps due to varying causes...illness, pregnancy, homesick, or new goals). But the REST of us met up in Siguat last week. Our health and Water-san people were joined by Hondu 8 Health and Water-San so that we could share what we are doing with the newer people, talk about common concerns, and most importantly have fun. Every night we stayed up late talking and playing ping-pong and drinking rum or Salva Vida beers. I didn't get much sleep but it was a great time. The next time I see all of these people so special to me it will be during out Close-of-Service meeting...Peace Corps goes way too fast really. The second night we had our second annual talent show. My friend Mike and I got the thankless task of organizing the acts (bullying people to sign up) and announcing every act with a wittyism on the mike. Like last year, talents surfaced that surprised everyone. I did a Michael Jackson dance with about 15 others, which is always fun, and sang with my friends Eric and Justin (banjo and guitar) from the west...we had practiced a couple times in Santa Rosa...we sang a bluegrass song by Alison Krauss and Union Station called 'Restless' and a bluegrass verson of 'I will survive'...they turned out pretty good I'd say. It was definitely fun though, lots of laughs that night!

On Friday I decided to join up with some people going to the lake on the way home to see the famed waterfall Pulhapanzak and the gringo-owned beer brewery which rumor as it had blueberry products as well as mango beer, blueberry beer, and many others. So Ben, Sarah, Ely, Eric, Suzanne, and I got a nice cheap cabin at Agua Azul on the lake and were off. After about 10 bus changes that day we got to the waterfall which was beautiful. I didn't feel like climbin down the slippery slope to walk under the falls in my tractionless shoes, so I stayed up top and went swimming with Ben and Sarah in the muddy waters. Afterwards we stripped out on the open (backs turned) and changed to try to make it to D & D Brewery before dark. We make it and had a great dinner in the laidback atmosphere and I took away some homemade blueberry jam. It was a fun detour after the workshop but I was tired after many late nights and was glad to go back west with Eric and Sarah the next day.

Now I'm back in town for a while! Please write, people...even though I am an old pro now I enjoy letters and emails from you!