Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Getting Stuff Done

We've been at Cornerstone for a week now, and today was the first day I felt like I actually got some things accomplished. I am working with a local soccer coach (Bernard) and a Peace Corps volunteer (Kyle) to help organize a summer youth sports camp for early July. This morning Kyle and I biked around Santa Elena and San Ignacio to visit schools and spread the word about the camp. It is sort of a strange feeling to ride up to a school in the middle of a school day and disrupt a teacher or principal at work, but the people here are accustomed to being approached by humanitarian volunteers and usually welcome the interaction.

News of the camp was well-received, although I'm a little concerned that we might end up with more interested children than we can handle. I am looking forward to coaching and teaching soccer to eager youngsters, but I cringe when I think of the potential of handling 100 rambunctious kids speaking an incomprehensible mix of Creole and Spanish on a steamy hot afternoon.

This afternoon I took to sprucing up the Cornerstone garden along with some help from of the folks hanging around the office. I picked up trash and cleared away twigs and dead leaves with a rake, while Nellie, our staff chef, hacked away at weeds with a machete and another volunteer, Jim, churned up the earth with a hoe. Three young girls, all daughters of staff members, pitched in by lining the vegetable beds with rocks. We also built a new pen for composting. It was a little unnerving getting down and dirty in a garden with plant and animal species I've never seen before, but I got over that pretty quickly. I saw about a dozen lizards, an underground burrow dug out by a bunch of fat toads, and a tarantula- but nothing scary or poisonous. And the coolest thing of all was learning about the plants in the garden. Nellie has a wealth of knowledge of natural healing and organic cooking, and I learned quite a bit in one afternoon. Maybe she can show me something that will take care of the sunburn I picked up today!


Melinda said...

Sounds like you are having some wonderful experiences. Maybe I should look into this when I retire in 5 years. Do they take senior citizens?

Karl Hassan Cyr said...

Some of the most effective volunteers here are older- they tend to have more patience, wisdom, and vision than us young'ins. I spent some time yesterday talking to a sixty-something retired school teacher named Jane who came and set up a library in a primary school here. She initially came to volunteer for just three months, but has stayed now for almost two years because of her dedication to her project. All it really takes is a strong desire to help people, a lot of patience, and a willingness to put up with stifling heat and a much slower pace of life!