jueves, 4 de agosto de 2011

A New Running Path (08 October 2010)

It’s been a long time since I’ve written, and an even longer time since I posted what I had written… blame it on the infrequent internet access and the poor signal I get (the going rate of access is about once every two weeks now). For the most part I haven’t felt like writing, I didn’t have enough energy or ganas. It resulted from little advancement in my health work in Mache, being harassed by a few male counterparts in my site, not having a healthy home environment, and my poor personal health…

I now find myself in a new site, at the entrance of a canyon in a more desert like climate, or the entrance to the Sierra as they say. Like I said, my work was not advancing in Mache – the social and political climate were hindering health promotion work. There are so many systemic problems there that without the collaboration of the existing institutions, advancement was nearly impossible. Anything I could have done would have been a reactive way to approaching the existing problems. I can’t function that way, I need to work with the causes and take preventative measures or else anything I do can easily be reverted and unsustainable.

Another reason why I haven’t written about this was because it was hard. It was hard to accept and is still hard to explain. At one point I was explaining the situation to my Health Director (APCD) while I was still in Mache, and she was the one who first brought up whether I was interested in changing sites. My immediate response was “No, no, no, no, I want to make this work.” And I tried. I put all my energy into it, vested my happiness on everyday’s gains and losses. I would say at first there were more gains than losses, which then started to equal out and then go in reverse…

I was rather shocked when my APCD brought up changing sites because I wasn’t even considering it and she is hard and solid. Once making up her mind (for example putting a volunteer in a site), she wants it to work and will do what it takes for it to work. She is not a pushover and usually has males crowing with their tail between their legs (very rarely seen in this highly machista/sexist society). I find myself to be the same way, as far as being stubborn about commitment, but I guess I am here to learn, and to learn what is realistic.

A volunteer and friend cautioned me to recognize the changes I can make (I’ve heard this before… from another dear friend who would bring up the Serenity Prayer…, Sevrina!). I took this to heart, and when still in the phase of spiraling downward of how I felt in my progress, I tried to keep this in mind, and not let was happening get to me, which I failed miserably at…

I was working with the health promoters primarily, capacitating them in a health theme each month (such as respiratory disease, hygiene, nutrition, composting, the environment, etc.) and was going to the different caseríos to also deliver these trainings to the communities with the health promoters. I was hoping to design the program so that there could be a training one month, and a follow-up period the following month so that what was being presented could be enacted on. Therefore I was in the process of instigating a project with families to mark changes such as the high cases of malnutrition (which exceed 70%), high case of diarrheal and respiratory disease, etc. I also was starting to work with the schools, forming youth health promoters and improving the school and community environment with those youth (clean drinking water, vegetable garden, composting/biodigestor/worm bin, reforestation, garbage and recycling, etc.). Outside of this, I was attempting to address improving the water system in the district – the poor access and quality.

I needed coordination from the health post, municipality and schools to advance in these fronts because flying solo isn’t wise and it should be part of their work load. Systemic changes need to be made so families could even consider preventative measures instead of just vesting all energy and resources to getting by day to day. They were inadequately equipped to face their struggles due to lack of education, access to and quality of healthcare. However, communication, coordination, genuine interest, respect, and competency were so lacking that I felt like I was pounding my head against a wall trying to get their cooperation. I was stood up and disrespected so much that I would easily be in tears at any point of the day. The other health volunteer (an hour and a half walk away) who works on the side of the district, and I were so accustomed to bitching about our setbacks, that all I was starting to feel was negative emotion. Then compounded by ‘professional’ male counterparts, who I had to coordinate with who didn’t see me as a professional at all and when trying to address work subjects, would always change to other subjects. I tried so many approaches to work with them that failed and I became so disgusted with them that I didn’t feel comfortable entering their compounds and tried avoiding them as much as possible. If they treat me that way, imagine how they treat native women in the district. And how they leave kids in different places… It came to the point where they started to then also work against me in my professional work efforts.

So site change. Looking for something new. Something to work with. A new running path.

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