As told by Rotary Partner Penny Rambacher:

Bonita Springs Rotarian Sandy Scoggins, Christie and I arrived today in Huehue after quite the adventures.  The highlights of the trip so far…

Met with Karen Larson of Friendship Bridge in Pana.  She is a dynamo, and we all love what they are doing.  Went to one of their ¨Client´s and bought scarves to sell.  Her name is Flora and an indigenous woman with great business sense.  Lots of women report to her and she has buyers all around the world.  FB does microloans, but the best part is they help the women to learn about handling money, how to price products, how to work in a group of borrowers, how to save money, wise investing, etc.  Sandy is pretty interested in adopting this group to work with with our beaders.

We had a great meeting at the TRC with a Peace corp volunteer, Laura.  She is an amazing young woman who has lived around the world.  She volunteered to do our school follow up visits with the new checklist at the schools in Patzun part of her healthy school work, and Lydia could do others.  We had them assemble a new water filter, and discussed their implementing it with the teachers in a workshop.  The one Supervisor for the Mineduc (Pauline) was there, and she is very interested in working with us.  She expressed a lot of frustration from the lack of support from the Govt. and her counterpart, Tereso.  She wanted us to buy her a projector so she could take her laptop to the villages and do trainings at the school, and she needs a projector.  Her counterpart got the one projector.  We offered that she can borrow the one from the TRC, especially if in the AMs, when the TRC is closed, and on the afternoons it is not in use.  In return we asked that she promote the center with the teachers, and get them coming to use it.  She assured us she would.  I told her if we had lots of people using it, and lots of workshops, and the projector was no longer available for her to use, we would consider buying a 2nd one for her to borrow,.  A real win win.

Before we left Antigua, Juan Carlos brought to the house 20 Sawyer filters and showed us how they are used.  We left 8 at the house to consider taking out to other areas.  Meanwhile, we gave 7 to the TRC, for the PCV to get started.  One went to the Vocational Center in Xela, which we helped PEILE fund the equipment.  One to La Sija, Christie´s school.  One will go to Canabaj tomorrow, another to Moldanado, and the other village getting stoves.  It has been  fun meeting with Alirio and the three of us struggling a bit with Spanish, and no translator.  Many laughs, and learning of new words.  Alirio did a fabulous job with this Voc. center, that has sewing, carpentry, and electrical work.  We just happened to have a sewing machine with us, the big heavy one that Christie sent to FL via Jan.  They were very happy to get it.  They need more sewing machines.  They have room for 15 students and only 8 machines.  We agreed to buy them 7 more treadle machines.  We bought 3 cutting boards made by the students.  They wanted to give them to us, but I told them that was not good business.  No freebies.

The visit to La Sija was good too.  They wanted us to build  more classrooms for Basico.  Christie´s school has 3 classrooms, and they use 2 of the classrooms in the primary school.  They insisted that they could not offer basico in the AMs and PMs to use the school all day.  It is not permitted by the govt.  They also asked for a computer center, and a diversicado school.  So we made a deal – if they get a diversicado school started in the mornings at Christies school, we will build a Reicken style library with computers next door.  The committee was really excited about these ideas, and we have arranged for them to make a trip to Huitan and visit the library there, connect with Reicken, to get the process started.  Padre Guadalupe in San Marcos who is building Mari Hafner´s library will also visit Huitan with Alirio and the group.  This way they can learn how to set up a library that is more than a library.  BTW – Sandy and I really liked Padre G. and are glad to have him as a partner.  He drove to Xela many hours just to meet us.

On the way from La Sija to the Pan American Hway to drive to Huehue, Alirio led us through some pretty rustic and rural towns, narrow dirt roads; where twice we had to turn around and go back, because we missed the road to turn off.  These turn off roads looked more like cow paths, so we can see how Alirio missed them.  I had the opportunity to use the 4 wheel drive!  Had to back up once to let a van full of people past us – back up a hill with deep ditches on both sides.   The corners were pretty sharp and I had to back up and cut them again, over the precipice of these drop offs that had me a little on edge, literally.  It was so much fun.  Christie was in Alirio´s truck, and he talked the whole way and used his hands to talk, and Christie got a Spanish lesson, while Sandy and I were tagging along behind laughing, and discussing the joys of adventure.  At least we weren´t in the dark, that would have been even more exciting.

We are now awaiting the arrival of the 8 Rotarians, and will head to Canabaj tomorrow.
Adios for now, Penny