Upon my arrival to Guatemala a flood of great memories come back to me. The sights, smells and sounds brought on a pleasant nostalgia that I forgot was there and calmed any nerves I had.
I have been eased in slowly to my work with Las Mujeres de Ixchel during my first week on the project. Though that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy meeting and greeting family and friends in the community. I’ve already celebrated my colleagues daughter’s second birthday and been to a two-day (morning til night) wedding. The wedding seemed centered around food; I was immediately given cooking duties and was taught how to make, roll and stuff tamales.
After a very fulfilling (emphasis on the filling) first few days of introductions and celebrations I finally met the community leaders who work with Las Mujeres de Ixchel. They prepared a lovely Bienvenidas (Welcome) lunch for me and then we got to the arms length list of things they hope to happen in order to better their communities. So now I’m in the process of sifting through their needs and wants to find viable options so that we can work together to make the changes they wish to see.
My work will range from investigating microfinance loans for new business ventures, teaching English and some basic Spanish, creating a website and finding funding for recent primary school graduates so that they have the opportunity to enter into the high school system. Suffice to say I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m excited to be here in this lovely country collaborating with some very strong and courageous women.
-Julia Rao, IYIP Intern, Guatemala 2011