Okay, I’m calmed down now, sort of, but I wasn’t beforehand. Perhaps the aspect I might be working on most here may not be so much salud/health, but just communication. Pure communication. It’s ironic because I was told by my brother, Derek, yesterday, that what I expected to accomplish here may not at all be what is actualized. I get so caught up with what I’m doing, allowing my emotions to intertwine with my work drive, that when what is at hand blows up in my face, my persona is also exploding. I’m not sure how much this is perceived from my exterior – I really wonder how much others perceive I am fuming or overwhelmed with despair.
I am sick of authority figures playing their cards of control and not leaking any of their motives to their citizens. They act as if they are doing a favor to their ciudadanos/citizens when their ciudadanos show up at the municipality (for example) to ask for support. The personnel from the municipality take their sweet time to attend to them and do it with a superior complex. No, it shouldn’t be that way. They should willingly serve them because that is their job. They are not there to reign and carry out what’s solely on their agendas, but rather, act on the behalf of their people, as representatives of their people, including them in the decisions they choose to carry out. Crazy, I know. But, I guess how many political figures actually do that? Good question. So sad.
I thought by working on a smaller level, with a smaller populace, and direct access to the municipality, communication would be a little bit better. Wrong. It still struggles, to be modest in speech. A simple attempt for coordination was asking support for the Vacaciones Útiles I am heading up (classes for kids during their winter break). It’s taking them weeks to get back to me. I have to beg and plead for something that’s good (well, at least what I think and many others think is good) for the kids of these caseríos. I wish the municipality could just give me a straight up answer – yes or no as to whether they want to support this effort. Simple. Instead, I have to wait weeks before they even look at the solicitude I personally submitted, and then have them tell me, almost half-way into teaching, that they want another list, a reduced list, of the materials I absolutely need. Ah no. What I submitted is what I need, and it’s their manner of waving me off again. If they don’t want to provide any support, okay, well, then I can’t purchase all the materials I would like to have. I’ll make do. But, please, just give a direct response. I’m done with passivity, the brush away with the hand. I am providing these classes for free and purchasing the materials currently and previously used on my behalf. And time and time again, I’m told I’m crazy, for being a volunteer, and providing free services – perhaps their not as valued as much?
And then, I’m asked by a regidora why don’t I charge the kids for the classes? Really? That’s an interesting question. I hoped she could answer that one for herself. A good fraction of the population can’t afford sufficient clothing and nutritious food, so how are they going to willingly give money for classes? It’s hard enough for some kids just to attend the classes since they are expected to attend to the animals, the chakra, and many live more than an hour way, up a mountain. There are some who are so separated from the people they are ‘representing’. I didn’t want the classes to cost anything because I didn’t want these classes to be exclusive to only those who could afford them.
Okay, so the alcalde still just shoves my list to the side of the desk while I overhear that cocinas mejoradas/improved kitchens, latrines, and biohuertos/vegetable gardens are being brought to the communities of Mache by an organization called Sembrando-great news! I know it is a program through a NGO that I had just begun starting to coordinate with, but they’re telling me it’s through the government. Anyway, I have to overhear this, from the other room, instead of them directly telling me this is going to happen. And they know these are some of my primary objectives for being here. It would help if they could communicate and coordinate this. Whenever I try to talk about work topics, or projects, the alcalde provides a very indirect response (like a flutter-of-a-hand response) and responds with stupid, disrespectful questions, like if my hair is naturally curly, if I have a boyfriend, how to pronounce a word in English… I humor him, respond to whatever question or comment with a laugh, converse about whatever unimportant topic for a moment, and then, try to return to my purpose of being there. And he’s still not receptive, puts me off, later, later, tomorrow, tomorrow, next week, next week. How does he get any work done, I don’t know. And, you know, it’s only kind of important that the health post is aware of the installation of these oh so crucial aspects of home life – improved kitchens, latrines, vegetable gardens – and I end up being the one to relay the message. Communication sucks. Separate identities/organizations carry on with whatever their doing without any coordination. How convenient.
Oh and then back to the list of supplies, finally, the alcalde pulls it up, after I was rather frank with him, to let him know that I wanted to know before this weekend, since I was returning to the civilization of Trujillo, and I could buy the materials there, and he proceeds to look at each item, and make a check next to an item, saying, “Supongo puedo comprar esto” – I suppose I could buy this (since he too, is going to Trujillo). But, really, I already bought a few of those things, and I need financial support, and the things I haven’t bought, he wouldn’t know how to buy because he doesn’t know what the specific projects call for. And, most likely, he won´t have or make time to personally buy those items when he is in Trujillo. So in the end, I convey this to him, and then he ends up giving a ¼ of what I asked for. And then, as if it’s a service, oh and give half of that to your friend in Lluin (Megan, the other health volunteer, about an hour away, who is also teaching and asking for support to buy materials). How indirect could he be. I appreciate frankness – just honesty – open communication, please.
Not sure how much I am negatively portrayed now in the municipality. I can’t stand fake smiling and sucking up to someone who clearly isn’t interested in what his job description entails.