This week Dr. Devon Graham, the director of Project Amazonas, came to Madre Selva, which allowed us to meet him for the first time and ask him any questions we had about our project. On Monday, we were able to show him the worksite and plan our next steps for clearing and leveling the land. Seeing the ground clear of obstructions such as logs and massive roots in the ground enabled us to really feel as though we had accomplished something. The following day we had to say goodbye to Daniel and our new Australian friend Loren which made us all very sad because we were losing part of our little family.
A few days ago we were alerted that some children in the near by village of Santo Tomas were interested in learning English. I decided to volunteer and have them come to Madre Selva about twice a week to learn greetings and basic words in English. One boy in particular, named Felis, was extremely eager to learn and when I would run into him in Santo Tomas, he would greet me in English. One day this week he and his cousin brought me three large papayas they had grown as a present for my efforts working with them.
Wednesday we had a community work day with Comandancia where the strong efforts of the community were very apparent. Leveling is very hard work and without the assistance of the men, women, and children in the different communities, we would not have made so much progress in only a few weeks. I have been very impressed by the work ethic of my fellow project team members as well as the people in the community, especially the children. The young children have been assisting by carrying bags of dirt down the hill when the wheelbarrows are full. I was very impressed that the children were such hard workers even though their parents were not pushing them to assist and the heat made the job even harder.
Thursday night we had the most fun we have had all week! We took a half hour boat ride to Yanashi, a small city on the way to Iquitos, where we danced and were able to buy chocolate! It was quite a relief to be able to go somewhere new and explore an area that was larger than any of the communities around Madre Selva.
Friday we were able to take a break and relax around Madre Selva in preparation for our Saturday work day at the clinic site with Nuevo Israel. The day was very hot and exhausting but it was good to see familiar faces and talk with the Nuevo Israel children at the work site. Saturday night a few of us went over to Comandancia to celebrate the holiday of San Juan. Although this community is not known for its Christian culture, but instead for its Yagua Indian traditions, we were able to witness a christening during the San Juan festivities. A really cool moment was when the people began to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish, I was able to say it with them because I learned it in high school!
Although some times have been a struggle, I have greatly appreciated all of the experiences I have gained so far and am looking forward to the next few weeks!
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