Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Trenches and Children

Our first adventure today was to the Esperanza Clinic where we were greeted by Doctor Patty. We were given a tour of their facilities as they explained to us how people from the neighborhood come to them for medical assistance. The cost is only a fee of thirty pesos, which is about 3.50 USD and their services include dental aid, vaccinations, psychological assistance, and a “petite” emergency room for acute care. In the case of serious injury, they team up with the local hospital to give follow-up care after they assess the situation.

Today, we started working on a different house in a new work site and with a much different job than what we were used to this week. This new family whose house we were building is much more poor than the one we worked with yesterday. Also keep in mind, we were now working on the side of a hill, which was a challenge for most of us. When we arrived, we started digging the trenches to lay down the foundation. The group was split into two with some of us digging and the rest of us moving buckets of dirt and rocks out of the way. It turned out that this would be the most difficult day of work for us, but we all persevered and most importantly realized how each of us contributes to the task at hand. At this point in this experience, we have gotten so used to each other that we can understand what we are all capable of and are now better able to work as a team.

The day ended with a visit to an all-girls orphanage called Santa Teresita, which is headed by nuns. When we arrived, it was dinner time. We were able to share a meal with the children and get to know them better. Although only a few of us can speak Spanish and understand them, they were still glad to greet us and talk to us. After dinner, it was play time, and all of the kids took us by the hands and led us outside for some fun and games. Most of us were running around chasing after the kids, with some of us giving piggyback rides to the younger kids. Eventually, most of us were playing soccer with the older kids. We ended the night with the children singing to us Christmas songs in Spanish. Then shortly after, our Japanese volunteers sang a popular song about unity and uniqueness.

The conclusion of this day was a quiet evening making s’mores by the fireplace.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sun and Soccer!!!!!

All and all today was a great day. We started the morning soaking up some sun at the posada. When we got to the work site, we had the task of making cement and finishing up the wall. The most fun part of the day came when a soccer ball appeared out of the dust. FIFA has got nothing on us---our team consisted of Mexicans, Americans, Japanese, Korean, Haitian, Burmese.

We spent the day working with a great family in an amazingly supportive community.

When we returned to the posada, we had exactly ten minutes to get ready for Casa Del Migrantes-a facility for migrants (mostly deportees from the US). Since we are limited to one minute to shower anyway, we had nine minutes to prepare. Off we went through Tijuana passing densely packed houses, in conditions that most Americans might not consider livable. We learned part of the reason for this at Casa Del Migrantes. Father Luis, the director, explained that thousands of Mexicans, and South Americans flood Tijuana everyday hoping to cross the border into the US. When they find they cannot, they are left to make their way here in Tijuana. At the house, we heard many sad stories of fathers torn apart from their families in the US because they were illegal immigrants and they were deported back to Mexico—a stark contrast to the tight knit community we met earlier today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mud and Rainbows

Confusion reigned as the hearty team of volunteers worked to overcome the chaos of the blizzard on Dec 26th. We were all amazed to find out that the airport was still recovering by Wednesday. Almost everyone’s flight plan was interrupted . Finally all but one volunteer made it to San Diego airport by the appointed 12 noon meet up time. Due to confusion at the JFK terminal and several gate changes, Miguel missed his flight. By a great miracle he got the last seat on the 4 pm flight to San Diego. Getting Miguel from the airport to the border was bit of a challenge but by 10 pm we found him sitting in Mc Donalds having Big Mac in downtown Tijuana. To make it more eventful, on the way to the Posada, we got a flat tire, and faithful Esperanza team member Victor rescued us and changed the tire in the pouring rain. When we arrived we found all the lights out and everyone sleeping.

Those without blankets had a bit of a sleepless night. Morning broke, with a bit of rain. Eduardo, the director of volunteers met with us to give an orientation and soon the bus was packed up. We were off to “La Morita” to meet “Theresa” whose home we were going to work on. The rain continued and we got out into mud filled streets. Despite of the off and on showers we mixed 12 bags of cement and poured the floor of Theresa’s home. The whole neighborhood turned out to help. In about 2 hours the floor was finished and lunch was served.

The sun finally came out during lunch and we were greeted by a beautiful rainbow arching over the mountain. For many of us it was the first time to see a full rainbow with all it’s colors. We knew the week would be good (especially if it stopped raining and the mud dried up.) We finished the walls of Theresa’s home and we headed back. It was a quiet ride back as that most of us were sleeping.

Reactions to the day? “You don’t need language to communicate. You can speak with smiles, hugs and laughter.” “The living conditions were more severe than I thought.” “The work was a lot harder than I expected.” “The people were so friendly and happy.” “Too much mud.”

After a spaghetti dinner the group rested and was soon off to bed.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve with Esperanza

I spent last night in mexico..what fun. We went to one of the families whose home is being built. The whole neighorhood was there. I think we are going there to work this week.

The place was thick with kids. The group that was just finishing their week had a priest with them. He already knew the kids and so I had instant credibility. Our first task was to walk to the store to buy fire works with them. Then the fun began. Nothing like being surrounded by 9 year old boys with fire crackers. A few bottle rockets later and the clear night sky was bright with color. Car alarms would go off as the explosions happened.

The house being built had a floor and only partials walls. It became our dance hall. We ate wonderful Mexican food. I was driving so I had to fight off the "Padre..Tequila" chant and managed to get us all back safely. (Since I had the vehicle I did drive to the store for replenishment of the Mexican delight.)

It was a very cold night for this part of Mexico and so a nice fire was lit. Great way for 9 year olds to light fire works. As people left the 'dance floor' they would come over to chat, laugh, scold the boys (but never stopping them,) and of course get warm.

My camera ran out of battery and only got a few pictures but I will post some pictures later. One of the most fun New Year Eve's I've had in a long time.

I'm back in the States now, and will pick up our crew tomorrow. Pray for us. Pray that it gets warmer...the night was very cold!!!