Friday, December 2, 2011

"Please Help Us" (Day 408)

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet the parents of the young man--Edgar--who sells me cat food in the market.  His parents, Camilo and Cristina, as well as the rest of his family are from Casario el Paraiso in the department of Solala.  Because I am operating under the title of "missionary," his parents, who are pastors, thought that I might know more missionaries to help out their ever-growing ring of villages with needs.  In all fairness, I believe this couple could be called "missionaries" in their own country, their own department, their own village.

And I do know missionaries, but most of them are already doing some sort of mission where they are and aren't really looking to expand to other locations (just because it's hard to be in two places at once).  So, we got out into the parking lot of the market to have a chat away from the prying ears of the market. (Interestingly, one of my current English students saw me and asked me today all about the people I was with in the market.  So much for privacy, huh?)  They told me about the conditions of the people in their area and told me what their dreams were for these people.  I finally had to stop them and ask some specific questions.

A: How many families are we talking about?
C&C: 5...10...probably 50.
A: How do you get from 5 to 50 so fast?
C&C: Well, it's about 5 families in each of the 10 communities. (They had been multiplying...not counting.)
A: So, what you're looking for is essentially a 2-step process.  First, you're looking for money to meet the immediate need of malnutrition...
C (hesitantly): Yes.
A: And second, you're looking for people to come in and teach these people skills that they can use to raise money?
C & C: Yes

They went on to tell me that they were the people everyone came to when they needed help: rides to the hospital--very far away--to deliver babies, stomach pain, etc.

A: There is no doctor.
E: No.
A: There is no dentist.
E: No.
A: Like...none at all?
E: No.  There is no one with training.

And, of course, I can go and teach massage therapy which is what I will likely do for at least one woman in each community.  (Praying!)  However, they need much more than that.  There is, however, a very big problem.

A: The people in the community...they only speak Kachiquel. (This was a statement/question which arose from the observation that even though both his mother and father could speak Spanish with me, they sometimes directed their response to their son in Kachiquel who would then tell me in Spanish.  It indicated that while they could speak Spanish, they were much more comfortable using a translator.)
E: Yes.
A: They don't speak Spanish?
E: There are some that understand Spanish mostly, but they only speak Kachiquel.

This presents an obvious problem.  Even if I can bring in Americans/foreigners to work with this village, the number of people who are fluent in both Kachiquel and English are very limited.  I know two (and I know of a third).  The number of professionals who speak both English and Spanish (and would want to take on something like this) is pretty limited as well.  Therefore, to train these people to either have a new skill or turn an existing skill into a business would be quite complicated:
The professional would explain something in English. Someone would translate that into Spanish.  Someone else would translate that into Kachiquel so that the person would hopefully understand.  If the trainee had a question, they would ask it in Kachiquel.  Someone else would translate that into Spanish.  Someone else would translate that into English, and the professional would answer what we hope is the question after a multi-lingual game of telephone.
To have someone who could translate from Kachiquel to English (and viceversa) would be incredibly useful in a situation like this as questions for clarification would not get lost in translation.

I currently have a vocabulary of about 20 words and phrases in Kachiquel.  Edgar's English is a bit better, but not by much.  (Spanish is a second language for both of us.)  So, for the next 18 days--until I fly to the United States--we are committing ourselves to learning the native language of each other.  (I will obviously not be fluent at the end of this time, but I certainly hope to be able to hold my own in idle chitchat.)  Furthermore, I will be traveling to Casario el Paraiso on Tuesday to meet with families in 5 different places, to discuss options, hopes, and dreams with them along with taking photos and cataloging some stories.

What I need from you:

  • Prayers of safe travel for Tuesday
  • Prayers for the people in this area
  • Prayers for volunteers from the States who are interested in committing time to teaching these people
  • Prayers for the language studies of Edgar and myself
  • Ideas and options for the people of this area
  • Use of whatever contacts you have to try to identify people who would/could commit time to teaching these people
  • Share.  Share this journal ( and share this journal entry.  Get the word out.

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