Friday was the day I had my community meeting in the next town over. I had made plans to have two women meet me at my house and walk over with me since I did not know this new community. They were supposed to come at 11am which is Guatemalan time means 12pm. I waited until noon then I called because no one was here yet. They said they were on their way. I waited another 45 minutes and they finally showed up. We were so late by this point we had to catch a ride to the town. We got out of the car and walked up this hue hill to the school. As I was approaching I saw all men! Normally, only women come to my talks and men work in the fields. However, since the community had to vote on whether or not they would let me work in their town all the men had to be there since they are the only ones who vote (equality=nonexistent in Guatemala). I ended up talking about myself, Peace Corps and the Healthy Homes Program for half an hour or so and then they pummeled me with questions. Most of the questions had to deal with money and when they would get projects. I had to explain this year I am only doing health education and nothing else. In the end they voted to have me work there. We will see how it all goes. It is always difficult stepping into a new community. It has taken me 3 months in my own community to finally have the townspeople understand why I am here. As long as people come to me health talks and show interest I will work in this new town.
The fact that so many men were there was very surprising to me. Most things to do with health involve only the women. It is the time of year where every man and most children are out in the milpa harvesting their corn. The men had all clearly come directly from their fields because there was not one man at this meeting who was not carrying his hoe, shovel or pick. I must admit I was very intimidated by all the men. They all just stare with leering eyes at this American girl standing up front. As most know I am very VERY jaded with men right now because of all my negative experiences with Guatemalan men. Standing up in front of the men of this town and acting confident was not so easy. I often feel like I am forever fighting the stereotype of the uneducated woman. I usually emphasize to people that I have my university degree and in general I am not full of shit (sometimes I am though…). The men just intimidate me. Period. It’s also frustrating that the women do not have a voice in this community. I want to work with primarily women as they have the most direct effect on the health of their families. I am not sure how this new town will work out but I have to hope for the best because there is nothing else I can do.
Latrine Update: the materials have arrived! I have everything I need to start building the latrine but now I need to find some people to help me figure out ho to lay cement and such. I am being realistic with the whole project and really just hope to have it done by Thanksgiving!