The first picture of the inside of the new guesthouse.
I just finished reviewing the report from our first volunteer. It was very revealing about the state of the project. We are still very much still in phase one.
This is a summary of some of the problems mentioned in her report:
1) Gustavo, my contact in the village, does not seem to clearly understand the role of the volunteers, and his role, in the village.
2) Gustavo has not adequately informed the mayor of the village of the project’s goals, probably because he does not clearly understand them himself.
3) The guesthouse is adequate, but does not allow for much security of personal items.
4) The shower is not yet working and probably needs much work, if it is started at all, to become functional.
5) We have a lot of work to do on helping the villagers to understand the concepts of sustainability, to which there may be apathy.
6) Cell phone connection problems and no internet connectivity.
7) Access to fresh fruit is limited.
8) Language communications problems.
9) A good first aid kit is needed.
10) Continued potable water problems.
I understand that many of these problems are due to the newness of the program. I also believe that all of the problems, with the exception of internet connectivity and apathy, may be sufficiently addressed before and during our next volunteers' visits. I have to give Sara, our volunteer, a big thanks for being the first to “test the waters”.
But, given the problems mentioned, I offer Sara's own words to describe the positives that she experienced:
"In conclusion, I am afraid that this report seems very negative, but I am only focusing on the problems, because I had a wonderful time! I am really sad that I had to leave earlier, I enjoyed every minute of this experience. Living among the community, with no communications with the outside world, no internet, no noise, no electricity, in the middle of the nature, with the Amazon River in front of me, and with a very kind, warm family, was one of the best experiences of my life. I would not change it for anything, I loved it! I think this was one of the best experiences in my life.” “The kids are amazing, the community is beautiful and there is a feeling of peace there that cannot be described.”
About two hours ago I spoke with Gustavo for about 30 minutes (during which time I was cut off about 8 times due to poor signal). I believe he now understands the direction and goals of the program (but I had though this before). However, I am now contracting with a translator in the city of Leticia (who is also the owner of an ecotourism business) who will help Gustavo to understand the project and also serve as an interpreter for volunteers who have limited Spanish-speaking skills.
So where do we go from here? Please wait for my next exciting blog posts!