Sunday, February 17, 2008

Transitions Final Day

The Dental Team had three chairs set up. Dr. Methven works to complete 6 fillings for this woman while dental student Renee Robertson assits and Rotarian Auggie Gonzales looks on.

Dr. Jim Ransom and John Bell begin with set up of dental units in Transitions.

Dental Students Charlie Hartman and Mike Harper extracted a tooth from Rodney, an 11yr old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Saturday was a day the Dental Team decided to spend working on the kids, family members, neighbors, and friends of Transitions. They saw at least 22 patients. Physical Therapist Maureen Gonzales and her daughter Laura Gonzales saw 4 patients.
Meanwhile the Water Team was off to Guatemala City. They met with a fellow Rotarian there who was able to agree that electricity and permits would be allowed for their project. They also secured an agreement that the Rotarian would send workers there to finish the work that the Water Team was not going to be able to do due to lack of time.
Over in Vuelta Grande Walter Want and Ralph Koozer were running into some problems. They had begun work to repair the lines that they had found last year that were broken. Last year we encountered electrical problems because of the Japanese team that had come to build on to the school and in doing so, cut through our lines. This year the goal was to repair that damage. Walter and Ralph were able to reconnect the school rooms all together again. The people of Vuelta Grande attempted to assist them by providing an electrical pole. Walter explained, "I was up on this ladder trying to balance all our lines, and all I heard was a CRACK!". The noise was the electric pole breaking in half. Apparently, the people who set up the pole only bothered to burry it about three feet deep, and thus it was not nearly secure enough and unable to hold the heavy load of the electrical wires. So for now, part of the school remains in the dark, until further work can be done to finish repairing the lines. Que lastima! What a shame!

El Hato Day 2

First things first. The water project is a go! It turns out Jacque was able to negotiate with the town’s representative. The Water team was given 3 options. They narrowed it down to two that they could live with and were finally given the okay to continue working. Cathy said she will do as much as possible today but most likely have to work tomorrow as well. The unfortunate part is that it sounds like it will be going over their allowed budget.

Today Marni Haley, Jan Winder, and Nicole McIntyre made it up to El Hato to join us for the day. They are here to begin their Micro-Banking project. Micro-Banking entails finding a group of women who will agree to a specific contract. The contract states that they can borrow money to start their business and then they must begin repayment at the end of the three months. They pay 1/3 towards principle, 1/3 towards interest, and the final 1/3 goes towards reinvestments. Marni explained that Rotary acts as a liaison of sorts, with a commercial bank in order to control the cash flow. In essence, this allows rotary to control the interest rates which will benefit the women and lower their risk of investment. “The best thing about Rotary is that the people in the community decide what they do. It’s not us telling them what to do.” Marni said. Marni’s past experiences with micro-banking in the city of Quetzaltanengo showed her how the effects can be advantageous to the village. In Quetzaltanengo the education improved, the birthrate increased, the nutrition improved, and the self-esteem of the villagers improved as well. “The biggest benefit is the residual benefit. Micro-banking allows them to make their own future.” Marni concluded. She also expressed some concerns about introducing Micro-banking into El Hato because they are a community that has lost much of their indigenous culture. They have lost their Mayan dialect, only speaking Spanish to communicate with one another. They have also lost their native crafts. So on the surface, it appears there may not be a natural business to start with as there was in Quetzaltanengo. Today Marni, Jan and Nicole came to meet with Irvin, a teacher from the town of El Hato. Irvin has a past relationship with Newberg Rotary because they sponsored his college education and subsidized his living expenses during that time. Irvin’s main vocation is to build the community of El Hato. He already has established classes to help educate the women of El Hato. They are learning to read and write because many of them have never had the opportunity. He also has done classes for sewing, cooking, and embroidery. Irvin came up with the idea for the women to create an El Hato designed blouse. At the moment, the women just purchase clothing which can be very costly. This would give the people of El Hato a craft specific to their village. It is amazing how things work out; it appears the Micro-Banking team has arrived just in time. It will be very interesting to watch how things progress and unfold. Thanks to the Newberg Rotary Club the future of El Hato is on the brink of a very amazing transformation.