Although we have been working hard at Potters house, it seems as if everything is run in slow motion. I’ve found it difficult, despite everyone’s warnings that this would happen, to differentiate between the rushed, efficiency conscious mindset we bring to the project, and the steady pace most people here are operating at. I think this is a challenge for many people who come from one world and are dropped in to work on a project with an established organization has been focusing on for over 25 years.
Many of the women we work with in our classes have grown up with Potter’s House. They have spent their entire lives enslaved by poverty, and the desire to break free has been softened through years and years of struggle and slow progress. Apprehensiveness about their abilities flood their minds, and make quick action almost unattainable. Consequences of failure are so real and looming, that it requires so much bravery to take the plunge and try new things. In contrast, our culture is so fast paced, and focused on quick results, so it’s very hard for me to see the value in our contribution of a few short weeks. These women have taken business classes before, will attend our classes, and will take more in the future, so, I hope that we will be able to make an impact on at least one of the entrepreneurs here.
Yesterday we started teaching our second class about the relationship between revenue, expenses, and profits. At first we were nervous that our lesson plan was too simple, and that we would be done to quickly leaving our students bored, and disappointed. In actuality, it was the complete opposite, we received good feedback about the content of our lesson, as this was something the women wanted to learn to use while pricing their products, but we were asked to repeat the lesson next week, and take it a little slower. Our anxiety over our limited knowledge of business practices has been relieved realizing that concepts we have grown up thinking are logical, are the ones we need to explain to those who haven’t had the same exposure.
To lighten the mood, I’d like to share a few funny stories of us adjusting to life in our hostel in Guatemala City. Every night we wrap our heads in our t-shirts to protect our ears from the buzzing mosquitoes that make their way into our rooms through the cracks around the doors and windows. It always makes me laugh when I wake up in the morning and see Tisa with her turban on trying to pry herself out of bed.
In our new house in Villas Majen, there is no source of hot water. Therefore in the shower, there is an electrical water heater that heats the water at the spout. We found out later that these showerheads are appropriately named “widow-makers”. Last week Tisa was taking a shower, and we heard a loud pop, her scream and saw a flash of light come from the bathroom door. We yelled for her and she said she was ok, but that the showerhead blew up on her! We have a new shower head that works, and hasn’t blown, but it causes the breaker to switch a few times during the shower, so we all keep watch while each other is bathing to turn the switch back on as quickly as possible if it switches off.
As I explained before, we’ve grown used to bugs in our room, trying to avoid the buzz of the mosquitoes, falling asleep to the knocking of the big bugs running into our windows and doors, and watching the glow of the fire-flys that dot our ceilings at night. But, one thing I don’t think I could get used to is waking up in the middle of the night with a bug on my lips, and when I tried to brush it off I squished it and had a little snack. I couldn’t stop wiping my mouth and wanted to laugh and scream at the same time.
Our time in Guatemala so far has been a mixture of rushing to finish our lesson plans, hanging out for hours chatting in our room, hoping our “students” are learning something from us, and being given gifts of food and jewelry from those we visit during our house visits. This week we will be adjusting our focus on creating our book, hoping to create a resource for many people to read and follow along with long after we have left Guatemala City. I think I speak for everyone when I say that our experience so far makes us feel as this is our second home, and encourages us to continue working with projects like this in the future. The pace can be frustrating, and the roadblocks almost unbearable, but the small steps we see being taken to improve lives, are worth all the frustration.
Utill next time…here’s a picture of a community we visited, with the cemetery in the background.
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