Thursday, March 29, 2012

San Rafael

A few weeks ago, we spent a day in the indigenous village of San Rafael. Common Hope has been working with this village for the past 4-5 years. It's in the hills, an hour's ride from Antigua, and is totally agrarian. It was a sobering experience to see rural poverty, as most of the villages we've seen before are close to Antigua and, thus, much more urban.

Being an indigenous Mayan village, the women and girls still wear the traditional clothing, and the people speak a Mayan dialect at home. Being rural, it is much more isolated - a doctor comes 1 1/2 days a week, dentists arrive sporadically, the only work available besides farming is a job in the local co-op. it's very dusty and stray dogs are everywhere. The majority of the home are cornstalk walls, dirt floors and tin roofs - and the majority of the children don't continue school past third grade. Being the dry season, it was between crops, a time when hunger is a reality if the last harvest wasn't good.

Ever so slowly - poco a poco - Common Hope has been making improvements. Affiliated families are working sweat equity hours towards cement block houses with cement floors. Families are seeing an advantage to partnering with Common Hope to keep their sponsored child in school. The nimber of children continuing in school for fourth, fifth and sixth grades has almost tripled. Half of the children graduating from primario continued on to basico (middle school). One sponsored child has continued on to diversificado (high school)which necessitates going to a school outside of San Rafael. This is a major triumph, but 30 children finishing sixth grade is also a triumph.  Photos won't do this justice, but here are some, anyway.

Medical costs - US$1 = 8Q

The dentists are coming!

Main Street

The primary school

Typical cornstalk house

Common Hope house

Mother in affiliated family - weaving

Spay/neuter clinic was being held for local dogs

First grade boys bellying up to their snacks

Sweet first grade girls - and me!

3rd grade - ages ranged from 8 to 13

1 comment:

  1. It must be so surreal being there knowing what schools look like elsewhere. What I love is the beautiful cheery brightly colored clothing that they all wear.