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I spent last week (October 30 - November 5) in Guatemala for work. Mainly in Guatemala City, but also in a tiny little place called Panabajal (municipalidad de Comalapa, departamento de Chimaltenango) and in Antigua. In Panabajal we visited the site of one of our projects and it was a humbling experience. The kind of travel I do for work now is so different from what I did when I was a student, or a volunteer, or had a different job. I used to be more in touch with people and now I am seen as a representative from a powerful organization. Of course people wonder why their local school can't get funds for repairs, maintenance, and materials, but these large international organizations unfortunately do not work like that... It takes years of planning and of course negotiations with the government before anything reaches the little towns. Maybe it is time I go back to more grassroots stuff!!

Anyway, the people were so nice and welcomed us with open arms. The course session (part of a course on participatory planning and involvement in local decision making processes) was held in the local school, where the desks were falling apart and the lone lightbulb was held up by an extension cord coming from somewhere outside the room. I was very impressed with the tutors, both from Comalapa, who did a great job with their "students" - mostly men, all farm workers who came to the two-hour class after a day's work in the fields. All were Kaqchikel Mayans and between them they all spoke Kaqchikel, although they all seemed to understand Spanish well. They got a total kick out of the few phrases I had learned before the session started! Oh, and they brought us the best tamales I have ever tried...

I doubt that any of them use the computer, but in any case - a big "Matiosh!" to all of them...

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 10, 2006 12:46 PM.

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