Monday, June 13, 2011

Reunion de equipo

This morning was our second staff meeting -  this time, since I knew a little bit more about what to expect, it was easier to follow everything that was going on. Most of the meeting involved each of the facilitators giving their informes, brief summaries of what they’d been up to over the past week, and Darcy and I gave a short presentation on where we stand with our upcoming projects. We still haven’t been able to set up our first community visits so we’re at a little bit of a standstill, but while we wait to get those started we have a few smaller projects to keep us busy – updating OB’s outreach lists in Xela and Antigua, learning how to use Access so we can eventually assist in building new databases for monitoring and evaluation, reading and summarizing journal articles relevant to OB’s work to serve as a resource for future volunteers, and blogging, both here and on OB’s website. 

A few interesting take-aways from this morning’s meeting: Regarding the rug-making workshops which Mildre and Lucia are working on in some of the communities, I was surprised to hear Lucia explain that while the women have plenty of creative ideas, not only do most of them have little experience in reading and writing, but their lack of experience in these areas also makes it difficult from them even to draw out their patterns and designs on paper – many of them have never even learned how to use a pen.

We also had a brief discussion on quality control. Andrea explained that in her role working with OB’s fair trade store, Reyna is often put in the difficult position of telling women that their products can’t be accepted for sale in the store because of poor quality. For many of these women who are living in extreme poverty, having their products rejected from the store could mean simply not getting the necessary money for food that day – and it can be difficult for them not to take it personally. This led into a larger discussion about teamwork and accountability, and illuminated some of the issues with NGO work that Andrea has been discussing with us since we arrived in Pana. Hopefully, the production guide that Darcy and I are working on will also help with some of the issues with quality control and consistency.

After the meeting, we went to Pollo Express with all of the facilitators for a healthy (just kidding) lunch of fried chicken, french fries, coca cola, and of course, fresh, hot tortillas! Tortillas are a big staple here, so Darcy and I each had a few of them – but apparently (as the other women shared with us when they saw how few we had eaten) it’s normal to eat ten or fifteen with one meal. Luckily I love to eat and I’ve really enjoyed all of the food I’ve had here so far, but the quantities of food at restaurants are usually so big that I’ve been able to bring home plenty of food for leftovers. I've also really appreciated how much all of the facilitators have gone out of their way to welcome us to the OB team - so far, Darcy and I have needed to ask for help on various projects from nearly everyone on staff, and everyone has been so accommodating in helping us to get the information that we need.

Below are a few pictures I took this weekend on my wanderings around Pana.  In coming weeks, Darcy and I plan on visiting some of the other towns around the lake, hiking and trekking (maybe up a volcano!), and possibly taking a trip to Antigua, but until then, there’s plenty here in Pana to keep me occupied and to keep life interesting.

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