Saturday, March 27, 2004

Mar. 27, 2004

The end of my visit to Linden, my soon to be home, was a
really great experience. I was able to accompany my
counterpart, Salome, down the Demarara River to her Arowak
tribe in Malali. The chief of an AmerIndian tribe is known
as a tosher, and having her introducing you to everyone is
a real plus. As you travel down the river, you begin to
understand how rivering people live. They are situated
sporatically amongst the forest and always have a big wave
for those passing by. Most travel in a small canoe type
boat. We even saw the school children, dressed in their
uniforms, paddling as many as could fit, down the river to
school. You come to realize that all those stories about
walking to school in snowdrifts uphill both ways from our
parents is far cry for the challenges these kids face just
to get an education. The day was not a day to see patients
in the clinic, but rather a celebration of a new building
that will allow the people a place to have community
meetings and such. The reservation stretches miles, but the
main area is basically observed as you come around a bend
and see the white sand beach against the black tea colored
water. This flat area has an old and new school house, the
new building and another newly built teachers house. And
that is about it outside of a sandy lot. The day was filled
with villagers paddling in for miles to partake in a
commemoration with government leaders, lots of food
prepared over an open fire and lots and lots of music and
conversation. Needless to say, a white girl amongst them
was quite intruiging and I had many who just HAD to
interact with me. I even had a chance to hike down a trail
into the forest with one of the locals. At the end of the
day, I watched the sunset over the river and then got into
the boat and headed back with the moon bright above while
villagers all paddled back to their homes. I am excited
about the opportunity to see another culture of Guyanese
Unfortunately, THIS week was a really tough one in living
the reality of
Guyana. Please know that this next part is
very graphic, but is a reality and may be hard to read.
There are a few things you see and hear that you don't
really want to. Domestic violence and child
abuse/molestation is an unfortunate reality for some. It is
not at all uncommon for me to hear or see men beating their
wives (or the other way around) or to hear children
repeatedly being flogged with belts. It is something that I
will never get used to and the trouble is that the systems
are not in place to control much of these problems. Also,
animals can be seen everywhere in very rough shape and are
frequently kicked around and neglected. Pets are not what
they are to us in the states. Just this morning, I was
sitting at a house with friends where 2 adult dogs and 2
puppies had hardly any hair, were covered with rough
patches of flea and tick infested skin, and were sickly
thin. During this week, a few other realities hit us head
on and took much of the week to work through. One of the
current PC volunteers was assaulted during a burlary and
attempted rape and we saw this person black, blue and
swollen. The next day was an even tougher situation that I
will never forget. As our minibus was headed into town, the
7 of us currently staying in Mocaha witness a horrible
scene. Not but feet from our bus window there was a dispute
between 2 men involving multiple cutlasses (machetey's) and
an ice pick. Without going into too much detail, there was
a lot of blood and limbs and neck left mangled which
resulted in fatality. I am sorry I can't talk more, but it
is a rageful scene that nobody in this world should ever
have to see and one that I don't care much to repeat. It
was not fear that brought the tears on for all of us in the
bus, but the cruelty that this world, disputes and poverty
can sometimes bring. I am sorry I had to see this, the
children in the van had to see and the others stopped in
traffic had to see. And even moreso, this week resulted in
1 of our group deciding to go home and another thinking
about it.
I am sorry that this email had to be such a blatently harsh
one, but in addition to all the mostly wonderful
experiences I have, there are also some that I wish didn't
exist. So, please, as you read this, know that I am doing
well, and am strong and confident in my journey. For even
as these unfortunate things are a reality, it is only a
small fraction of the plentiful beauty of the land and
This is our last week of training and we have our swearing
in ceremony next friday...then off to Linden....
Peace and love,