Hello again everyone! I could just about write a post for everyday this past week because many many different things have happened. But let me just tell some stories…
Story #1: This past Monday we had the Siempre Unidos bi-annual conference where all the staff from Siguatepeque, San Pedro Sula, and Roatan came for training on the current trends in HIV research, the psychosocial aspect of treating HIV patients, and a workshop in “Calidad en el Servicio del Cliente” (Quality in Client Services). The first lecture on current trends in HIV research was I’m pretty sure straight out of my classes at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In fact, I think they stole some slides from an online lecture at Hopkins because a few slides were in English and resembled very closely the PowerPoint presentations of some of my previous professors…haha. It was great though because I felt really knowledgeable for my first time here, as if my school work now meant something. Having a public health degree hasn’t prepared me to take blood pressure or give injections like the nurses, it hasn’t prepared me to know the exact dosages or regimens of antiretrovirals that our doctors prescribe, but finally, I knew and could contribute when the conversation turned to research on the biology of the virus, issues of drug adherence and treatment failure, best practices on preventing mother-to-child transmission, and all that stuff…you know…(right Mom?) Many of the staff aren’t specialized in HIV (many have bachelor’s degrees in Administration or Business), so it was nice to be able to really see the avenues in which I could use my knowledge and background to help educate staff and patients, who for the last 3 weeks have been my educators.
The only difficulty was that everything was in Spanish so while it was very beneficial to learn the Spanish vocabulary of HIV research, I still ended up sounding like a 12 year old when I tried to communicate information I knew. Well…I’m still working on it.
Story #2: The other day one of my workers called practically in hysterics and was describing the bruises she had on her face and legs. She had called to say she didn’t think she’d be able to walk to work tomorrow and I could have sworn she said “me golpeó” which means “hit me.” This woman has had a lot of problems in the past regarding family and men and so I was inclined to think that someone had physically abused her. Well I immediately called the nurse and she said we would go to visit her tomorrow. Well as the day passed and the nurse had other patients to see, I still wanted to go make the effort to see my worker and bring her ibuprofen or something to help with the swelling or any pain she might have. So I made my first solo home visit. Well, not exactly solo because another woman who “knew the way” came with me, but she has a mental disability and forgot the way so I ended up having to navigate…but it was certainly a fun adventure with her :) Once we arrived to my worker’s home which was significantly far away, I gave her a big hug and we went inside to chat. I come to find out it was the floor that “me golpeó” and not a person, because she fell really hard while she was cooking and bruised herself up pretty badly.
I felt kind of pointless at first that I had made the long trip thinking that this women had been a victim of violence, when in reality she had just fallen down. But little by little I could see that my short-lived presence in her home meant a lot to her. She mentioned that the previous volunteer had visited everyone but her and how that had made her sad. She also was thrilled I could see her new home…she had just moved in 8 days ago and it is the first time she’s lived in a home with cement floors and light. Yep. Yet as I sat in this little home, filled with flies and dirty water tanks, surrounded by other little shacks and muddy dirt roads, I could still take one look out the kitchen window and the most beautiful mountain valley was right there staring back at me. A diamond in the rough. It was absolutely gorgeous and visiting her in her home has really helped me to better understand her on many different levels. I hope I get the opportunity to visit all the workers at their homes because it really is something special. I don't know, there's just something about being in someone's home, their place, that connects you more fully with their life and their dreams.
Story #3: I finally found friends to play soccer with!!!! I met this Honduran guy at the gym who told me I could play with him and his friends on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so they picked me up and we went! It was sort of like indoor soccer but on really terrible “turf” and the guys were really macho-like players. One guy who must have been 30 years older than me kept on making comments to get in my head and mess with me. Boo…I shoved him later don’t worry. But the group of guys (and 1 other girl, yay!) I played with are super nice (and attractive, haha). They are also the first Hondurans I’ve met who know how to salsa dance, so I’m excited to go out dancing with them at some point in the future :)
Okay, well as my Mom would say, “That’s enough storytelling from Jo today.” So I’ll let you all go. But it’s been a pleasure sharing with you and I hope you didn’t get too bored. Miss you all!