It has been some time since I posted a blog, which is probably an indication of how up and down life has been here and my reluctance to put to paper all that has been going on. In the last blog I mentioned that Si A La Vida (SALV) was changing its profile and this meant the boys who were part of the residential program here on Ometepe would be returning to their families on the mainland.
It was a very taxing and traumatic time between telling the boys this news and their departure. They were understandably confused, scared and unsure of their future. Rightly or wrongly they had come to see SALV as their home. Their behaviour consequently matched the intensity of their feelings as they worked through the grief of loosing the old and the uncertainty of the future. SALV provided a psychologist who worked creatively and sensitively with the boys individually and as a group. We enjoyed diversional outings to the waterfalls and a last nostalgic and rather emotionally laden afternoon at their favourite water hole. We took the boys back to Managua where they were met by their mothers, sisters or aunts.
The reunion for me was very strange. I am known to totally embarrass my kids when thy returns from a two-day camp at school. These families had not been together for 10 weeks and there was barely a smile to acknowledge the boys arrival. Could be a Nica thing, could be evidence of the family dynamics, I am not sure.
So the boys are back with their families. We understand that many have not gone back to school, but we can only hope that this will happen.
During this month we hosted the annual general meeting of SALV at our place. My first on-mass catering event. If you can imagine a sit down meal for 20, plus refreshments during the day when you are camping and have limited food choices. We did ok and our Nicaraguan friends were very helpful in making sure we had enough plates and chairs and that we did not offend anyone.
As far as our work now, Mart is overseeing the establishment of the SALV Community House. This will provide health, education and cultural activities to support the children and families of our town Altagracia. We (the SALV team) are drawing together an advisory group from the community to help identify the needs as we develop our program. We work with a great team here, but there is a need for support in putting things into action and developing project plans, budgets and IT skills. One issue in Altagracia is support for pregnant teenagers. There are a growing number of girls as young as 13, who are pregnant and too ashamed to attend the health centre for support. Another issue is the prevalence of drugs. Having lived such a sheltered life I have never been privy to watching drug deals and drug usage in the open air- without any embarrassment or shame. This occurs daily out side our house, in other streets and around the central park. So the issues for families are huge here and the idea of the community house is being well received so far.
We feel like we are emerging from this month of ups and downs and looking to get back to a more even routine, if that is at all possible here. Our visa is still "in process", we had another interview last week and this time we were given a phone number to call in 20 days to see the outcome. We have paid more money and got a 30 day extension on our current visa. All part of the adventure of life here (I keep telling myself that anyway). We have been slowly making our house a home with our chooks nicely settled in and we are looking to get some peliguay which are a type of sheep, to help keep the grass down. Little things like this all help to give us a place of our own.
Even within all the ups and downs we continue to enjoy our time and receive good support from our Nicaraguan neighbours. We feel we are contributing here in ways that will build lasting impact for the project, for the staff and for families.
I am looking forward to seeing family and friends in a trip to Australia in October and I am happy to catch up and tell you more of our news and of course to hear yours.
Keep well, keep warm and I hope you have time to enjoy life.