Tuesday, March 3, 2015

First day

We arrived at 16h yesterday (Monday) after a long wait in Miami while they changed planes due to a broken door. Of course there were no complaints knowing that we would be hopefully on a safer and fully functioning plane.
The Casa in Guatamala City is on the outskirts of town in Mizco. We are about 25 here at this point but it can accommodate up to 60. All volunteers  come here for varying lengths of time to work on the projects that CASIRA has started in the area and further away. This is communal living, helping prepare and serve meals, wash up ( I am on dish duty tonight) keep the place clean, and participate in the workings of the CASA. I am in a room with four women, on the edge of a pretty courtyard. I sleep on a top bunk which is a new experience. We all wake and leave at various times depending on the projects we are assigned to. So today I had to be up at about 5 and leave by 6 with four others in order to cross the city and get to the school where CASIRA is building a third story for new classrooms. 350 students from ages 4-17 attend the school. It costs $25 per month. There are government schools but they are quite rudimentary and only are for primary level. Considering that only 1.6% of the GNP goes to education, it is not surprising that many families make the sacrifice of sending their children to private schools run by nuns. I will be at this work site all this week and then move onto another project next Monday.
Today we painted the 2 foot high skirting boards around the new classrooms, using oil paint that had the consistency of chocolate fondu. I was glad to have my knee pads. Meanwhile the three men with us were plastering and painting new walls,  and trying to put plexiglass squares into metal windows. The children were in the classrooms around us squished into tiny classes, with the noise from our work site in their ears the whole time. It was a pleasure eating our lunch in the school yard  and having them race around us, playing hide and seek, screaming and laughing like children everywhere.
All materials are donated so quality is sometimes an issue. Today the plexiglass kept breaking as they tried to cut it. The tools used are pretty basic so the men are now trying out new ways of cutting the plexiglass. We will see tomorrow!

Today was my first experience of driving in Guatamala City. The CASA has several Toyota/Hyundai vans with manual stick shift. This is a very busy city but after Asia and India, I was pleasantly surprised. I had to take the elderly sister from the school (Santa Clara) to the local hardware ( a real hole in  a wall) to buy silicone for the windows. It was lots of fun, chatting in Spanish and trying to following her vague directions to the store. We made it safely perhaps with some divine intervention given the special passenger I had with me.

1 comment:

  1. check ou cutting fiberglass on utube. An exacto should do the job. XXOO