Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hope on the dusk horizon

The purple sky is split by orange clouds, and below this celestial ceiling a thick layer of evening fog creeps slowly into my view. The mountains are preparing for the night. The day brings occupation and movement and the night brings reflective stillness and I come back to you…

The morning brought Nora and I to explore a potential partnership with “G&C”, a Peruvian organization that specializes in capacity building with those in poverty. Because their base of professionals consists of many nurses and other health professionals, their strength happens to be in the area of health education/promotion/action. Nora and I were both excited during this conversation since DHF was awarded health education grant money and we want to use it wisely. I absolutely loved their methodology of using various learning styles to teach women and their families in the field via home visits; pictures, books, audio tapes (yes, tapes), and videos. Last year we held several group health education classes that were successful but difficult in terms of bringing women together at a common time. G&C focuses within each household so that health actionables proliferate throughout the entire family. Teachers work house-to-house and visit four times a month to discuss subjects such as respiratory illness, nutrition, sanitation, and more.

One of my favorite parts of their health promotion model is that they work with each family to create their future vision…aka, HOPE. Each family has a plastic chart in their house based on the diagnostic work done on the household and the plan they develop with the teacher on how they will be a participant in the process of obtaining a higher level of health in their lives. As they surpass goals, they put up drawings representing successes on their family charts. They see their own progress right in front of them. Families celebrate their changes with a diploma and other small reminders of their personal power throughout the process. I couldn’t help but think of the internal lift we could help make possible for entire families by beginning with Hope and ending with Change based on their actions. It was indeed a powerful morning.

G&C invited Nora and me to travel with them to the field next week to witness some of their classes. We will visit some of the most conflicted village areas here that sit directly below the world’s largest gold mine, Yanacocha, which is 20km outside of Cajamarca. These village areas have protested with a lot of anger and preoccupation toward the mine that they say has raped their animistic land, poisoned their water from the runoff of chemicals like cyanide used to process gold, and not given back sufficiently based on reaping the largest amount of gold anywhere in the world. I am not writing this as a matter of my opinion, just sharing the local sentiments that are voiced by these very poor communities. Nora and I will have to make sure we immediately separate ourselves from any mine affiliation on our field visit, since the mine is owned by “gringos” from Denver (so people sometimes think a white women is a wife of a miner by default). At any rate, I am excited to see this methodology at work.

In other exciting news…this afternoon I once again forayed into the Peruvian abyss and we searched further for Women’s Development Center spaces. I think we found one or two amazing options! Now…you think finding the space sounded difficult? The real work begins in the next step which is not really in Peruvian vocabulary…WHAT WE WILL DO TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN? Luckily, this is a Maggie Miller specialty! I already asked for an all day Monday meeting (I know, all day? but this is needed to make 2 hours of stuff happen) to motivate the vision and calculate the costs, so I can come home with the most formed idea of this Center and we can birth it together!

A little creative Mags for you as I bid you good night, reflections from sitting next to a very old woman in the field who seemed to have given her soul to mere survival.

thoughts of who i am
intertwined in the wrinkled lines
and hardened weathered working hands
that pained out of necessity
of hungry bellies and hard hot sun

the smell of wood smoking against the rusty pot
the sound of rain against corrugated tin roof
granddaughter running barefoot in the mud
sweet sweat of the day rising off the soil
you squint by the rising fire
sad eyes glazed with acceptance
of the being here.
of the now.
of the work to do.
of the work you’ll do.
your heart is so strong
you will not falter, sacred mother.
in the wrinkled lines
i see you seeing me
i see your living life force so utterly and completely
and i am humbled in the falling of incessant rain.

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