I went into San Mateo after school today to try to locate the babies who are under 1 year old. Mr. Cruz and a mom from the school helped me to locate them and helped me with translating into Spanish. I found several babies and moms, but about three mothers would not come to the door. They are afraid, I guess, as they are probably not legally in the country. I am always saddened when I travel through this community. There are some homes that I cannot reach because the planks leading ot their homes are so unsafe. Yet, the children travel across these every day. I do not know how I am going to get the pediatrician who wants to do home visits into these houses. I think he is going to have to see some of the babies at the school. There is no way I can chance walking across the rotten planks. I was not the balance beam pro in the family...plus I weigh too much. Mr. Cruz was so protective of me. He walked ahead to make sure the planks were safe and then made me step where he did.
For those of you who are reading and do not know what I am talking about...This area is where the school is and many residents do not have water, electricity and no one has a sewage system. So the lagoon that is under the homes is sewage. The planks are built over this nasty water. The is garbage everywhere. The homes are put together for the most part with whatever they can find for building materials. Some homes have curtains for doors. Many homes have no windows and few have screens if they have windows. Many are very small - 10 x 10 foot rooms with little furniture. There may be 10 people living in one of these tiny homes. I can't see how anyone is safe from predators - especially the two-legged kind. The only thing is to get to some of these homes is impossible in the dark. Walk that plank in the dark? - not me. There are a lot of mean dogs in the neighborhood too. I do not even ask if the dog bites - just know it will.
The mom that was helping me is an interesting person. She is trying ot get the other moms to trust me. She came to me this morning and asked me to help several of the moms organize their own soccer team. I think we will start with the soccer team and then we are going to work on a women's coalition and I think this will be a start for the "eye on the child" project Susan and I want to initiate here. All in time...this communtiy organization work is fun but earning trust requires so much patience. I understand the wariness of people here. I am sure they do not understand anyone trying to help them. The school itself does so much more for them and their children than they have ever known. In a culture of survival and oppression it is the norm for people to be suspicious of outsiders. I am reminded of the book "When Invisible Children Sing". This was about a doctor's work in Bolivia. He worked with street children. He had to learn the lesson of letting the children come to him - just be there. I know this is the way - the mother's are starting to come to me little by little. (They even said I could play on there soccer team if I wanted to - I laughed and said "do I look like a soccer player? I will be your biggest fan!"
I am trying very hard to organize eveyrthing for the doctors who will be here next week. We are going to do a health screening on every child. It is an awesome task to come up with the record system and follwo-up that will be needed. It is coming along though. I wish I had more skills at writing programs in the computer. I have a man helping though who is volunteering this week.