I wanted to update you all on what’s been happening in Santa Marta during August. It’s been a very busy month. Natalia, phsysiotherapist from Spain and fellow DGH volunteer, just left yesterday after 5 weeks here working with Ana and Lola in the Center for Rehabilitation. During her time here, Ana and Lola were able to hone their physical rehabilitation skills, learn first aid and bandaging, back adjustment techniques, and much more. In addition, a number of new workshops were started: an evening stretch and relaxation workshop for the youth group which has remained extremely popular, an afternoon of stretching and light exercise for older people, and a workshop for pregnant women in collaboration with the health promoter. Both Ana and Lola were so thankful for this opportunity to learn new skills and already planning their next get together with Natalia, hopefully within the next year.
The youth group continues to impress me. There are currently two main projects going on: legalization of the group and production of artisan wood products. With respect to the first, this is a very big endeavor, as the group has always been fairly informal without a rigid structure or administration. The legalization process involves many many meetings forms, and none of us have much experience in this area. However, the group has already created a Strategic Plan for the next 2 years focused on artisan production and youth formation, and hopes to legally be the “Asociación Cooperativa de Produción Artesanal, Comercialización y Formación Santa Marta” (ACOASAM) by November 2011. Legalization will allow us to more easily apply for funding grants and to act as an official supplier of artisan materials to the local schools and other groups. The other major project is gearing up production of puzzles, picture frames, and keychains for the “10 de Octubre” festival. This is the main festival in Santa Marta, and celebrates the return of the community from the refugee camps in Honduras in 1987. The group hopes to showcase and sell many of their products during this festival. We will be meeting next week to get organized for this major production and sale. In addition, we’ve already finished a set of puzzles of every letter of the alphabet to donate to the Santa Marta school. Natalia helped a lot in drawing many of the designs for these puzzles and we will all miss eating pupusas with her!!
Two other projects I’m currently working on are giving health-related workshops to young people in the nearby town of San Pedro and restarting the plastic bottle recycling project here in Santa Marta. The San Pedro workshops are in conjunction with one of the health promoters there, Amabel, and a Peace Corps volunteer, Kelsey. The first workshops have covered basic first aid and HIV transmission and prevention. Next week we’re planning a workshop on general reproductive health and how to inject medications (progesterone injections are the main form of contraception here, so it’s good to know how to do this). We also found out that the school in San Pedro has no classes on sexual education whatsoever—and are talking to the school director about starting this. The recycling project is exciting because garbage is a huge problem here, as there is no collection, and at least we can make a dent in the problem by not burning plastic bottles. The school will also benefit by receiving a small amount of money for each bag it fills. I hope to get this up and running before “10 de octubre” because there will be a ton of trash produced during the festival.
Ok, that’s it for now! I hope I’ll be able to post more often now that my computer is working. And hopefully I can share some pictures as well. Please feel free to email me with comments.