Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clip of the Week

This is an Ode to Sam and his adventure in Campos Bananeros.

Los Campos Bananeros (Banana Plantactions) is an area 40 minutes away from the center of Progreso. Which were heavely affected by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. When we went to home visits out in the Campos the community took the new volunteers in a heartbeat. The men in the community were very fond of Sam and offered him food, drink and even their horse!

my adventure at Copan and the nutrition center

so last week I went to Copan for a week to work on my Spanish! monday through friday 8am-12pm. I stayed with a host family and it was an amazing experience because I have never been in a host family, so it was awesome. I think one of my highlights in Copan was the hot showers! here in Progreso, I take cold showers which I do not mind.. but it was definitely nice to take hot showers! so, in other words don´t take hot water for granted! my host family was so friendly and very welcoming. I only spoke Spanish to them as well as my teacher because they cannot speak english. It wasn´t as difficult as I thought it would be, I was able to get by with the limited spanish I know.

Yesterday was the first day I volunteered at the Nutrition Center. I was kind of sad looking at some of the children, but very amazed at their development and how much better they are doing. For example, there was a before and after picture of this little boy. When he first arrived at the Nutrition Center, he looked bad. His ribs were showing and he was very thin. Now, he looks so much better and so much healthier. He is two years old and is starting to walk. He is so cute!!! Since we had about 6 volunteers from Mississippi yesterday, I did not help as much because they sort of took over. Hopefully on Friday I will be able to help much more. Can´t wait!
Also, Jeincy and I have been here for about a month already! It´s so crazy how time flies, and it really has been! Getting around town is not hard anymore. I am able to take the bus or taxi by myself if I wanted to. Starting tomorrow, I am going to be riding my bike! so, let´s see how this goes!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

OYE youth focus groups

This week we were able to sit in on some meetings with a few of the becarios. They were broken down into three different groups: ciclo comĂșn (which is the youngest age group), Carrera, and Universidad. In each group there was a noticeable difference with the delivery of their answers. They all had the same basic worries and issues, the older (carrera and universidad) concentrated more the politic side of the issues. The main issues that each group expressed are education, poverty, unemployment, and health.
                  The students amazed me with their answers, with their responses you could tell that they are focused and want to make a change. Marisol, who is the one who lead the meetings, asked them a series of questions, for example: What can they (youth) do to help solve issues in Honduras, What do they think about poverty, How are issues in the country affecting education? I thought to myself, ¨WOW, these questions are really hard! ¨ I have no idea how I would´ve answered them. I guess the kids seemed to think differently, they immediately answered them, the first one always being Education. It truly did affect the kids that because of teachers being on strike, and everything happening with the government, it caused them not to have school. Their main concern was that they didn´t feel prepared for the following school year. They had to rely on teaching themselves, even the difficult subjects. Many of these children attended public school and they went as little as once a week to class, they kept canceling class. One of the things that struck me most, and that I thought was an amazing answer was that the Education will keep getting worse if the issues don´t get fixed in the government. The children strongly believe that since all these things are going on with the Honduran government, they aren´t concentrating on the real issues, a huge one being education. Another statement that was made that really struck me was that the government should worry more about education, to pay the teachers so they can teach, without teaching there is no development.
                  With health, they believed that if they didn´t have health then they wouldn´t be able to do what they want to do. They need to be healthy if they want to make a difference, go to school, and make their dreams come true. The students are well aware that there are big deficiencies in the health system. They are well aware that the health system is an exclusive one; the rich are the ones that receive what they need, mentioned some of the kids. They do know that if needed there are hospitals that they can go to, but they won´t receive the best care, mostly just because the hospital doesn´t have the capability to do it not because they don´t want to.
                  Poverty is something that they see everywhere; they keep being promised things that can help them to improve their living conditions and lives. One of the examples that a becario brought up was the fact that Pepe Lobo said that by the time he left office he wanted each house hold to have a computer. This student brought up the fact that yes it would be nice to have a computer and it would be helpful in their studies, but that the money could be used to get better equipment in the schools: materials, teachers, etc.
                  One of the final questions asked during the group was, ¨What do youth need in able to develop more goals?¨ Many of the answers were incredible, opportunities, education, incentives, people who show they care. My favorite answer was OPPORTUNITY. You need to be given the opportunity so you can set goals and be able to achieve them. If you don´t have the opportunity, then it may be nearly impossible. I really enjoyed sitting in on these groups, all of them have so much to offer and have a strong opinion. I´m excited to get to meet each one of these students and just know more of what they think.

-Jeincy Paniagua

my reflection

This week I was able to spend some time with the OYE students and hear about their stories and experience. Throughout all three groups I attended and from what I can understand, there seems to be a lot of problems in schools. A lot of these students have expressed how they only attended school once a week throughout the last academic year... and for some maybe 10 or 12 times throughout the year. In addition, this one student expressed how his teacher would make him do all the teacher´s work and that is because no one supervises the teachers. Also, I was told that a lot of the times the teachers would pass their students to the next grade, just to pass them. Throughout these meetings and hearing their stories, all I can think of is this: they are not receiving quality education and they are behind by one year.

So this weekend I am going to Copan to go to Spanish school. I hope that when I do come back I will be able to understand much better while participating in these groups!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New year, New faces

Meet Vanessa and Jeincy, OYE's newest interns.  They are social work interns from Mary Baldwin University in Virginia. Over the next four months they will be diving deep into the dephts of Honduras and the it's youth. Through small group work, individual sessions and home visits their insights will change the lives of our students.

Read about their first week below and make sure to check back in and see their progress.

my first week with OYE!

Hello! So this is my first blog entry! How exciting. Jeincy and I arrived Honduras last Monday with our social work professor, Mary Clay. We have been here for a week already and it has gone by SO FAST. Mary Clay stayed in Honduras from Monday to Friday. I am so glad she came to drop us off here in Honduras because she helped settle us in with OYE and made sure everything was clear.. but better yet, Jeincy and I were not alone. From Monday to Friday we have been extremely busy which is good because I did not think about being home or missing home. During the first five days we visited an orphanage and a nutrition center. It was a good experience visiting these two facilities because I have never been in one. The children in the nutrition center were so adorable! Their growth development shocked me the most because some of these children appear to look very young, but in reality they are older. For example, I saw a little boy who appeared to look like he was two years old, but he is actually five years old which was surprising. After the nutrition center, we went to the orphanage. The children in the orphanage are so friendly! a lot of girls came up to me and said hello and gave me a hug and a kiss. The children in the orphanage are so welcoming and they want to get to know you, play with you, dance with you, and work on a puzzle with you. Overall, it was a great experience and I seriously cannot wait to interact and get to know these children more over time! as well as OYE!

One of the orientation activities I enjoyed a lot was Iron Chef! That was really fun. I was teamed with Mary Clay, Javi, and Sandra.. Our team won! We each had 100 Lempiras to spend and it was difficult finding food spending no more than 100, so it was challenging! I also enjoyed going to the ¨country side¨of Honduras to visit with a student and her family. We rode a horse and we all got a tan because it was so hot that day. We also went inside a school which is comprised of only 4 classrooms and I believe only 2 teachers.

El Progreso is a wonderful city. I am loving it so far even though it has been somewhat cold during the day and even colder at night! Every family home I have entered has been extremely friendly, welcoming, and very giving. Once we enter a home they offer us pepsi, they give us fruit, and some even cook for us! Also, they always greet you with a hug and a kiss. They are all so sweet. In addition, the OYE staff is an amazing group of people. They are also very welcoming and I know for sure I am in good hands. I can´t wait to spend more time with them and get to know them. I just need to work on my spanish!!

I am happy and excited to continue blogging about my experience here in Honduras for the next 4 months. So, stay tuned for more! :)

First Week in Honduras

So far our trip to Honduras has been AMAZING. The people are great, the food is just delicious, the country– words cannot describe the beauty.
Upon arriving on Monday, January 4 we were recieved with open arms. Immediately we went to try the ever so famous Baleadas. We had heard plenty of talk about them, so we had to go find out for ourselves what they were all about. Turns out they were DELICOUS. The rest of the day we got to see our OYE apartment, got a chance to unpack and settle in, we visited the OYE office and just familarized ourselves a bit. It was the start of a busy week.
We visited the Nutrition Center, where they help to rehabilitate kids who are malnourished and Copprome, where they have children that have no where else to go. The rest of the week we got to meet the OYE staff and some of the amazing becarios that they have. We had a panel where we had the opportunity to ask them questions about what makes OYE such a big part of them, what they hope to see happen with OYE in the future. We did fun activities like an iron chef competition and a scavenger hunt around el centro with the OYE kids. With those activities we were able to interact and we had a chance to get to know them more.
We visited one of the kids´home where they treated us with great care. We were able to see where she came from and the enviroment she comes from. We were able to visit her old school, it was a school building of one level and about four class rooms, one of which they used as an office. We went to the teacher´s house where we were invited in for a Pepsi (everywhere you go, Pepsi is what you´re offered).
Friday Mary Clay (our professor) left for the United States, once she left reality sank in, it was the start of what we came here to do. That Friday night we got to experience some of the San Pedro nightlife. we visited 3 different clubs, each one had different things to offer. The music was amazing, we all had a great time, and danced the night away.
We woke up early Saturday for our journey to Copan. It was a 3 hour bus ride from Copan had a great small Pueblo feel to it. It had tons of culture, history, and a variety of different people. We stayed at a hostel named Blue Iguana, the rooms were very nice and we were well taken care of. The following morning we went on a tour of the Copan Ruins, it was a 2 hour tour, our tour guide Antonio was amazing, he knew so much, and spoke several different languages. The ruins were like nothing i had seen before, it felt unreal to be there.
I´m excited to see what more Honduras has to offer, and we can offer to Honduras. It definitely was a great start to our 4 month journey in Honduras.