"Necessity is the mother of invention" -- Since the author is unknown, I will attribute it to Lori Scharffenberg who told it to me most recently.
Last week, the team and I were supposed to be laying by the water, talking development, and debriefing in beautiful Semuc Champey, but that didn't happen. This week, the principal of our school was supposed to deliver the sign-up sheets for our summer camp program, but he didn't show. And yesterday, I was supposed to be able take a bus down the mountain to Panajachel, but the rains persisted. Nothing in Guatemala ever happens how you think it will, but if I've learned one thing, it's how to think on my feet and accomplish things despite these daily hurdles.
|Team Orange Iguanas from Summer Camp 2010|
School has ended for the year which means that our programs have also ended for the year (one of the biggest cons in the in-school vs. after school program debate). But no need to fear, our summer camp program, 2nd annual may I add, is coming up in just a couple weeks. As you may already know, last year we had 6 Program Directors and about 120 campers! Fast mental math will tell you that this is 20 campers per volunteer, and exhausting enough. This year we have 3 Program Directors and I can only imagine how many campers we will have due to last year's success. Nervous? I was too.
I've been stressing over the situation at hand, especially when I picture 120 rowdy kids charging the three of us. However this actually presents the perfect opportunity to get our butts in gear and jump start a new program. Instead of solely soliciting in-country help, why not create a leadership and empowerment program for local Guatemalans? They receive training, act as counselors, and receive a notarized diploma at the end of the "course." I went back a reread my initial feasibility trip proposal in the midst of this chaos... You know, my naive preconceptions of what I thought I was getting myself into, and what my idea of success would be down the road. Well's here's what I had to say almost two years ago: "The goal is to educate the community to help themselves and teach them to build upon what they have learned towards their own economic, social, and political independence."
Thus it seems out of necessity we have found opportunity, and are suddenly working towards what I always thought community development should be, in more ways than one. Take us out of the picture, and educate to empower.
Until the next hurdle,
P.S. Come help with summer camp from November 8th - December 8th!