This past week has been a busy one. On Tuesday, Kira and Anisah traveled an hour and a half to the village of Chirijox, accompanied by Marisol and a few healers from surrounding communities. Here, they participated in a clinic funded by the money that Pitt Nourish raised. The clinic was much like the one that Aarti, Gianna, and Jenny attended the previous week. Chirijox is affected by high poverty and has one of the worst problems with teen pregnancy in the area. That being said, the clinic saw many young mothers come in with their children plagued by the ‘evil eye.’ In addition, back and foot problems and insomnia were some of the most common ailments affecting individuals of the community. Being in the clinic was a wonderful chance to see exactly how the teas, tinctures, and creams created through Maya Traditions were dispersed throughout the Lake Atitlan communities in conjunction with the expert knowledge of the local healers that work with the Foundation.
On Thursday, Linda alongside Marisol and the Mayan healers set up a community clinic in San Francisco, a small village forty minutes ,by a chicken bus, from Solola and Panajachel. Families of men, women and children of all ages traveled from a far to come to this clinic for free health care. The health care that was provided consisted of natural medicine from the tinctures we helped make, to the various dried herbs we helped bag and tag over the past few weeks. From nine in the morning to three in the afternoon, we were able to provide care to over eighty indigenous people. Each family was given a number, and by numerical order, each number was called and the corresponding patient would be seen by the Mayan healer. The patient would tell the Mayan healer, who is specialized in traditional healing methods and natural medicine, where he or she was having pains or what was hurting. The Mayan healer would prepare a bag of either fresh or dried herbs, tinctures, and creams from the pacient to use as treatment. Most of the problems consisted of headaches, stomachaches, or indigestion. Over all three clinics, over 180 people were provided with free healthcare.
Aarti, Kira and Anisah roamed the streets near the Maya Traditions garden on Wednesday going door to door speaking to the neighborhood about the compost project. The Foundation hopes to be able to collect compost from surrounding households to incorporate into the garden as a source of natural fertilizer. Each home that agrees to help the Foundation on this will be given a bucket, where each home can to place their organic trash that will then be collected weekly by a member of the Foundation. The girls received positive feedback from everyone they reached out to in the neighborhood.
Wednesday afternoon we were privileged enough to learn to make mashed black beans with Oseus’ wife. We were able to enjoy the beans with chips and guacamole. On Friday Oseus made us tamilitos with chipilin, an herb that we picked fresh the day before in the garden. We enjoyed these with salsa and queso fresco, along with a good conversation with Oseus, his lovely wife, and their three adorable children.
Friday was also the day that the two teas, designed the week earlier, were completed and ready for tasting. Linda worked hard to create the packaging for each of the teas, she described the ingredients to us, in both Spanish and English, so we could understand there unique uses. Both teas tasted fantastic and quite different. The Stomach Strengthener, a blend of peppermint, green ginger, and apazote; is for relief and prevention of stomach aches, diarrhea, and parasites. This tea was refreshing and had a nice mint aftertaste. The other tea, deemed the Cold Crusher, is made from a combination of ginger, lemongrass, and sweet herb. As evident by its name, this tea is for the relief of cough, fever, and flu, and had a light, sweet taste. As we were conducting taste tests on our two tea products, a few visitors arrived at the Foundation for a tour. One of the visitors was suffering from parasites and tried the Stomach Strengthener blend. She liked it so much she requested to take some of the leaves with her when she left and as soon as that our first outsider taste test was a success! We hope to produce more teas this week so that they will be ready for distribution in the area.
Gianna, Anisah, and Linda started making the headbands from the scraps hemmed by the local tailor. The handwoven multicolored fabric make for a sturdy and beautiful accessories. After hours and hours of accidentally sticking ourselves with the needle, hand stitching each piece of fabric together, and squinting to thread the needle with yarn, we have finished braiding the headbands. We hope that the headbands will be a hot commodity back in Pittsburgh next fall; while also being a way to raise awareness for Maya traditions.
Saturday morning we bid farewell to two more of our team members – Aarti and Gianna – who headed back to the States to begin their summer jobs. And then there were three. Kira, Linda, and Anisah spent their weekend relaxing and taking in Panajachel for one last weekend. On Saturday we completed our last-minute shopping and when the usual afternoon rain began we retired to our favorite coffee shop to read. Sunday we rented bicycles, explored the beach area, and enjoyed the sunshine with some refreshing ice cream.
The beginning of this week marks the last days of our journey. As Monday closes we only have four remaining days to finish up all of our projects with Maya Traditions, wander the streets of Panajachel, and lastly to be immersed in the easygoing Guatemalan culture.
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