What a day full of emotion!
It really began last night. It was the classic non-yoga night: went to sleep, settled in under the bug net, and woke up an hour and forty minutes later. Wide-eyed. Finally I just got up, pulled out my laptop and iPad of articles, and started writing. I actually made some headway. That said, it was so lovely to be with Maribel again— to wait for her on her porch, to see her coming down the road, all prego, to play with Yasira. She got a puppy, a parrot, and a pig. And she’s preggo? Something is going on here, I think. But, wonderful to talk life in a rocking chair while the sun sets with such an inspiring woman….
So back to this morning- finally, 3 am, I fell asleep listening to the roosters crow (I will never understand why they cannot wait till morning!) and watching a sliver of moon light shimmer on the floor. 4 am, someone decided to chop wood. Right outside my room. Slept a bit more, woke up, fed the birdie with Maribel. I must say, I love her dearly. She’s going through kind of a rough patch in her life right now, and I wish I could make it all better. It so painful to see someone you love so dearly, someone who believes so deeply in the power of youth, someone who is just always willing to give and give and give and give of herself to youth, communities, everyone. She is so generous and kind and caring, she’s a mover and a shaker, she makes all kinds of wonderful things happen, and she’s one of my best friends in the world. And so its hard to see her go through things I think she should not have to deal with. I’m staying with her (always do). She’s also pregnant- due May 28- and the single mom of two other beautiful daughters. This summer she will be less involved with the communities, which will be hard on the project, but she will be off work for three months, so that means she will be hanging out with me all the time in Teustepe, and we will have a baby to tote around and play with!
We all had breakfast- a tortillas, beans, and some salty eggs… and my personal favorite— passion fruit juice! Fresh squeezed, with tons and tons of little seeds. I looooove the seeds! All bets are off for when I won’t get guajada in her house. I never eat it, but her muchacha always gives it to me. I just can’t do the guajada. I do it in communities, but I stay with M all the time— and she won’t eat my peanut butter and jelly!
Then we had a partner agency meeting. Headed over with Maribel in the morning, and met Isela, Armando, Rosalio, and Angelica. We all sat together and talked about which youth might be interested in participating as volunteers, 2 at the international level and 10 at the national level. The conversation was good, highlighting a lot of excellent young people. I kind of felt like we were choosing them though, and what if we passed someone over? Wouldn’t it be better to let them self-identify as interested through the application process? At the same time, it was nice that they were so invested in thinking through who might be interested. We ended up thinking about Darling and Betty for Ecuador vols, and a whole slew of others for natl vols.We were supposed to go out to the communities with Maribel, but today Isela changed that. She sent M to Juigalpa and was going to go only with us. I was very worried about this, because Isela (who is the coordinator of Plan, but does not get out to the communities much at all) does not know the communities at all. I knew we needed someone to go with us who could talk to the parents, who the parents trusted. So, thankfully, she had Rosalio come with us. During that conversation, I mostly felt like this:
So off we went, with Isela and Rosalio. I love Rosalio, I really do. When you need something, he is there. Always. Like when you need 30 cots in the next two hours, Rosalio jets off on a moto, collecting cots. And he shows up, in time, with 30 cots. Always there. That kinda guy.
We headed first up to La Laguna, one of the farthest communities. In La Laguna, we met with Darling and her family. I always feel so warm and welcomed by this family. Her parents hosted vols last summer, and they were loving to all of us. Darling was a vol in another community, and so I know her well. We sat around in the cement floor living room of their bright pink with blue trim home, and we laughed about stories and shared experiences of the recent big snows.
We talked of her being a vol in Ecuador, seeing how they were feeling. I think she will be a volunteer, which is exciting. This is when my heart broke. She has two more years of high school. She wants to finish. She also has a brother, who also wants to finish high school. Long story short, the brother is going to finish high school, and the family can only send one son or daughter, so the son goes and the daughter does not, and my heart breaks. And all for transportation and food! All she needs is transportation to school and food at school, about $500/year for two years. I almost want to pay it. I know I can’t, I know its not cool, I know there are tons of girls in this situation. But this one, I love. This one, I’ve watched grow into a leader. This one, I’ve watched inspire and be inspired. I’ve comforted her when she was homesick, I’ve congratulated her when she finished the summer, I’ve laughed with her over memories. And so it hurts. I’ve been upset about it all afternoon. I mean, this is a truly brilliant young woman.
(from left: Darling’s Mom, Me, Darling, Don Catalino (Darling’s Dad) and Rosalio, from Plan)
My heart has been broken and my belly in knots all day because this brilliant young woman in a pink tank top and red shorts, a brilliant young leader can’t go to school. Because it costs $1,000 dollars. And then I’m thinking, if she goes to school, then what? What does she “get?” A way to leave the community? A job? Then I’m horrified, realizing I am thinking about how she can “get out,” what if she does not want out? What if she loves La Laguna? Why do I think she needs to be able to get out? And then… and can it not be education for education’s sake? Does it have to have an ends? But then, I know what education is like here. Its rote learning. Its reciting. Is that education for education? Is it worth $1,000? Who am I to say what its worth?
And then— time-space expansion. Cindi Katz, 2008. She says that globalization might well produce time-space compression in the global north, but in the global south, it produces time-space expansion. Here, it means that the geographic regions/space/time that people must traverse in search of education/economic resources/other resources. Darling’s case is the example of how that intersects with gender. The more local high school closed because of funding a few years ago, and b/c most of the youth were going out to the cities. Then there was a collapse of the crops, and no one could afford it. Or some could, some couldn’t. The youth had to go far away. Then gas prices skyrocketed. Bus fares got higher. And then it was the decision Darling’s family was faced with: a son or a daughter- who to send to school, when there is only enough for one? Gendered time-space expansion.
We headed through a bunch of other communities then, weaving through the mountains, inviting youth to Thursday’s workshop, talking with parents and listening to giant pigs, sound asleep, snore. We stopped off in Asiento Viejo, and saw Betty and her family, and talked about her going to Ecuador. Her dad is on board, her mom is considering, and either way she’ll at least be able to be a natl level vol!
Then we headed down, Kate and I were starving and ate with Dona Irma, and then we headed here to Managua with Chema! And now, we’re getting ready to go the airport to pick up Marta, tomorrow is a few meetings, and then I’ll head back to Teustepe. Thursday is a youth encuentro. I’m thinking of showing them some of the cool videos about youth activism that have popped up on Facebook lately— like this one:
I was thinking of maybe a few others, and then we’ll come up with some kind of action or cool thing to do around a topic of their choosing- could be a great conversation around leadership. Plus I think it’d be cool, at this juncture, to watch videos of what other youth are doing, get a sense of what kinds of issues are relevant to youth in other parts of the world, see what and where and why and how the connections might be….
Off for now…