02 November 2006

Site Visit in Tecpán

My host organization, Utz Samaj, is funded by USAID, European groups, and various private interests in Guatemala. Utz Samaj's space include an office for its half dozen technical advisors, a large classroom where farmers take weekly classes, Greenhouses used for classes on how to manage them, demonstration fields, and a bodega where various products such as fertilizers and seeds are sold at a discounted cost to the farmers.

My preceding volunteer made an interesting, though cynical observation about NGOs in Guatemala: that they primarily serve to give middle class Guatemalans jobs. This appears essentially true.

So here's how my week went in short review: I spent three half-days in the office, and the rest of the time wandering around Tecpan, often with the 4 other present volunteers, or alone, and often meeting many various Tecpanecos. Many voluneers introduced me to their Guatemalan friends, who embraced me very quickly. By the end of the week, i was eating dinner with the neighborstelling them stories about snow in between games with the five-year-old. I find Tecpan a very friendly city, but I am excited to find my way in the small towns in which I work. It has become clear to me that an easy path lays before me of little work and hot showers if I so desire. I definitely seek the other path.

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