Corruption, Strikes, Bolos and Basura.
When I imagined my life in Cuerpo de Paz I pictured huts, dirty clothes and poverty like I could never imagine. And it’s true, I’ve seen things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’ve seen children with nothing, no clothes, no food, no parents. I seen houses that wouldn’t pass for a hut, with more people living in them than my extended family has, and the whole lot of them working every day just to survive, without jobs, without means, farming what they can to make it through just the one day. I have learned more bad words than I am honestly comfortable with, because a white girl walking around in a town of drunkards solicits a little too much attention just by being there. I’ve been called everything from bitch or slut, to virgin. In the middle of the day, in front of children, with no qualms, and it seems I am the only on around who it bothers. Men learn from a very young age here how to objectify women, and they get really good at it. In the states I feel that right about the time men learn how to behave like this is about the time they decide they want to start dating and know they better cut it out if they ever want to go out. Anyway, the reason there are children around to hear such things is because the teachers have been on strike for as long as I have been here. Last year, of the 200 scheduled school days (7:30-12:00) there were in actuality 97, and this year is looking to be worse. For a country struggling to develop, to crawl its way out of complete deprivation, it is leaving in its wake an entire generation of uneducated, unmotivated children. They are the future and it is almost guaranteed that the next generation will be worse off than the one before. There is a phrase here that roughly translates to “thrown out like the bolos” because the bolos who pass out and sleep on stoops, on the streets are just like the trash here. I understand the frustration, never being able to find a trashcan in this country, or in my house for that matter, wanting to give up and just throw whatever it is wherever I am. I suck it up because I refuse to throw whatever I have in what is already natures trash can, the country of Honduras.
This month in La Esperanza we have broken up into small groups to complete a series of projects. Thus far, ours have included a basic municipal report detailing the agencies and transparency within the Municipality. This project came pretty easy, with the help of the Mayor who wanted not only to make it completely obvious how much better he is than the last guy, but also to get a date with a girl in our group. His right hand man helped us organize a trash collection campaign, where this week we will paint trashcans with a group of students to be put up around the city. The municipality has the trashcans, they are sitting in a warehouse somewhere waiting for God knows what. His right hand man, after the formalities claro, proceeded to ask Raúl which of the girls in the group were already spoken for (only in a much cruder manner which I refuse to post on this site). We gave a charla to a group of women patronatos whos main complaint was corruption within an organization that has NO funds. And this week we are giving leadership charlas to a private school, kids who already have all the benefits that we are trying to provide them, but there is no telling when the public schools will be back in…this is our only resort.
But we are Cuerpo de Light. We are the diet coke of Peace Corps, even though I can’t for the life of me find diet coke in this country. We are Cuerpo de Light because we live in nice houses with middle class families who feed us more than we could ever consume and we shower in cold water, but we don’t really need to shower every day (or at least I don’t) because we don’t really get all that dirty. We are Cuerpo de Light because we watch movies at night, well, we try anyway, and in our down time we read and if our doors are closed we can almost forget about everything that is happening around us. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but I know that it gets us from one day to the next, and that is really important here.
I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, I can’t fathom what it will bring, but know that I am here, and even when I am completely unproductive and have no idea what is going on around me, this is where I am supposed to be, and looking around at the people here, and the friends here, that makes me happy.