Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Health Steps

The stove bed, ready for the construction of mud stove.
Santos is pictured here with two of her children in front of her humble house - She has made many improvements; including separating her children's bedroom space with a simple curtain and preparing her stove bed.
Tula is motivating one of our families by examinig their house homework list.

Health and Hope do mix. Today I spent the day with Tula, our amazing health promoter with GyC, who took me on an all day tour of 1/2 of our families in the health project to see our progress and some roadblocks. It was a very eye opening experience and at the end of the day, although my shoulders and feet hurt, I was deeply grateful to be surrounded by Tula's positive energy and encouragement and be witness to our families small and big advances.

Our 30 families have been preparing for the big day on Sunday - when they receive their materials for the mud stoves. Each family had to prepare the "bed" of the stove by placing mud bricks strategically in the appropriate corner of their kitchens. Some of our families have very humble kitchens, made out of wood pieces and covered in plastic, which made the construction of their bed a bit difficult. However, despite the humblest conditions, the families have prepared their kitchen walls for paint, evened-out floors, created new doorways into their kitchens and most importantly prepared their stove bed.

Granted, there are a couple of families that are a little behind on their homework. Some of our families have husbands that can only work on their stoves on Sundays, their one day off. This makes it difficult to advance with the family promise to complete their part of the house homework as part of the project. Some of the men in our families have problems with alcohol and on their day off they aren't present to help. There are economic roadblocks - the money to buy a $1 plastic curtain to separate the parents and children bedroom space isn't readily available; sometimes there isn't even money for the kids to take the bus to school activities. Situations that would pain your heart and put tears in your eyes.

One of the families that is participating in the project is a family of 9 that lives in one very small bedroom and cooks in a small, dark kitchen. But let me tell you this family has already made their "hygiene" corner and cleaned up all their books and clothes that used to be all over the floor and have now found their own clean place in the bedroom they all share. These are topics that Tula hasn't covered yet in her health sessions, but one of the family members that went on our Health field trip earlier this month was inspired to start working on improvements on their house. I saw these type of improvements in the humblest of houses; small houses with wooden walls with spaces in between, but order and cleanliness take top priority.

Situations are difficult. There are excuses. There isn't money. There isn't time. But, there are also improvements. And in the eyes on the little kiddos I saw today I know that this project, our support, and all of Tula's endless work weeks has a grand purpose. We are taking little steps towards better health. Better health doesn't happen overnight, in one month or even in two. In happens through relationships, confidence, learning, and small steps. And I can reassure you that we are on the road to better health.

Paz and Salud ~ Nora

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