Monday, April 23, 2012

Here's to the Women in My Vida!

Recently, I have found myself daydreaming about what my life would be like if I was born here. As a woman, I would probably already have a kid (or a few), I probably wouldn’t have gone to school past sixth grade and I would work hard, very hard. I would get up around 5 am to cook breakfast for my family, making tortillas over a wood-burning stove that makes the walls of my house black and most likely reflects the color of my lungs. I would then spend the day cleaning the house, cooking for my husband and kids, washing clothes, and going out to gather wood. All these tasks may sound simple but they require hours of hard labor. I maybe would get a little break in the afternoon but would continue cooking and cleaning until dinner. Then the next day, I would get up and do it all again and again and again.

            The women here in the campo are nothing short of inspiring. Their resilience and what they put up with on a daily basis is clearly something, yet with the attitude of “machismo”, their hard work is barely recognized and they do not have the same rights as men. For example, women barely leave their house except to run errands, get wood or go to church. It is often to the point where they won't go out in public without a companion or a reason as they feel uncomfortable. When I go to the central plaza in town, there are only men there, hanging out, catcalling, or playing cards. Rarely have I seen a woman there just to hang out and pass the time. Yet despite this, women are the backbone of this town and society. Without their hard work, families wouldn’t function. I know plenty of women whose husbands have left them either for another woman or for the States, yet they manage. I don’t know any single fathers here but the majority of women I know are doing it on their own without a father figure in the house. It is also always interesting to see women in churches as well because they are the ones who show up! As there is no priest in the Catholic Church here, a woman runs the celebration (since there is no priest, they don’t call it Mass)  and she even has special permission from the bishop to give out communion (which is rarely taken here). Indeed, women are the backbone here. You don’t see their hard work, yet you know they are the ones running the town, running the country and the more I observe of the rural lifestyle, the more I realize the education and the health of a woman is so imperative to the health of a community. The women here amaze me everyday. Every single one is strong and selfless and they put up with things that I never could. So here is to the mothers and the grandmothers and the daughters here and I can only hope that one day, things will get better for them.

One of the single moms I met in San Jose. Single motherhood is often the norm here.

The front of the clinic. The mural says "Working for the well-being of the community."
 Last week, I started a life skills class with the fourteen-year-old students from the high school. This class is called “How to Plan My Life” and is centered on themes such as goal setting, decision-making, self-discovery, and sex education. This is pretty innovative here as the students rarely get the opportunity to talk about their likes/dislikes, their futures, their questions about growing up, etc. Instead, they are forced to grow up at such a young age and their lives just kind of happen without them actually thinking about it or realizing that they have another option. The students I teach are the exception, they are continuing past sixth grade and typically aren’t from the outlying pueblos with limited opportunity. But they give me hope! Their sharpness, their laughter, and their willingness to share have truly impressed me and I’m sad that I have just started with this group of students when I am leaving so soon. I will just have to “aprovechar” or take advantage of their presence while I still can!

The local Santa Lucia scholarship students
 Yes it is true that many people here barely get by but things are improving and I just have to trust that they will continue to get better because change takes a long time and a lot of hands and even if it’s slow, it’s still something! The vibrancy of life here despite the circumstances is still something that I learn from each and every day.  Here’s to the women in my life, here in Honduras and back at home! My grandmas, my mom, my aunts, my sisters, my friends, I love you all!

Best wishes!

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