April 20, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Alisha Herrick's Blog of the Peace Corps in El Salvador

Peace Corps Online: Directory: El Salvador: Peace Corps El Salvador : The Peace Corps in El Salvador: April 20, 2003 - Personal Web Page: Alisha Herrick's Blog of the Peace Corps in El Salvador

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, April 20, 2003 - 10:23 am: Edit Post

Alisha Herrick's Blog of the Peace Corps in El Salvador

Alisha Herrick's Blog of the Peace Corps in El Salvador

Stress, Scorpions and Sex Discriminaton

Posted by: Kathy

Hello, just a note from alisha's mom again. thought you may like to read an excerpt of one of her recent emails.

she is coping quite well but has frustrations with her community and the political factions of her area. she is teaching weekly english classes to 30 eager students and more are waiting to take the class.

despite the frustration with her water project committee, she is having success with her "health committee" whose goal is to obtain property of some sort for the new clinic in the community. it seems to be a motivated group with specific goals.

"Ok, It's really not THAT bad.......but this last week sure put me to the test!

First, things have been very stressful since the ADESCO disbanded (the group of people that I was assigned to work with). But as if that wasn't enough, I got a call on Wednesday from the Director of the new group of trainees here. What seems to have happened, is that I was actually going to be getting another volunteer living in my same municipality ("city") only an hour away.

She came to visit my site when she had her site visit a few weeks back and I made her lunch. We got along GREAT! She is also in her late 20's and had been a flight attendant, so we shared "non-reving" stories-flying standby. She is from Kansas City.

Anyway, so I was REALLY looking forward to having this volunteer so close to my site! Then, I get this call saying my mayor (the future volunteers counterpart) would prefer to have a male volunteer. Well, the Peace Corps said it was too late to change anyone's site, and even if they could accommodate his preference, this was not a job based on gender. Anyway, they are looking for another site for her and not sending ANYONE out by me.

So, not only was I a little upset, but began to think about it more and wrote a letter to the mayor explaining that we are here out of our own

good-will to help the people of his country, and 70% of the volunteers here are females and we can do just as good a job as any male, and in the States, it's illegal to discriminate against anyone due to their sex, and that I was offended by what he did and he should think twice the next time before he turns away help for his entire community......etc.

Anyway, I was really upset, not only for the volunteer who had just found out "they didn't want her," but also for myself, cause I wasn't going to have a companion living a bit closer.

Well, I haven't heard from the mayor, but the directora of the school (whom I work the closest with) told me I was doing a great job here, and that they wouldn't prefer a man, and that they loved me.

Anyway, then on Thursday, I found the 4th scorpion in my house in less than 2 weeks! it was under my pillow! I actually do a complete bed check each night now before I crawl into bed. How can I get rid of these ugly

creatures?. . ."

please continue to communicate with her - she loves to hear from everyone and to go to the capitol and receive a letter from the states is such a day-brightener. now that she has settled into her site and the new has worn off, i'm sure some encouragement to persevere would be a blessing to her.

thank you,

kathy (alisha's mom)

Six Months!!!

Posted by: Alisha

It's almost, (but not completely) impossible to believe I've been in El Salvador for 6 months! I have been keeping SO busy lately, time is just flying by, but when I think back to the earthquakes, that seems like another lifetime......

Things have been keeping me running in Las Marias. Every Wednesday, the doctor comes to do consultations in my old house (not to be confused with my new house-ha!) Last Wednesday, he had 82 patients! Talk about a need for health improvement! People (especially women and children) come from all over the neighboring communities, 2-3 hour hikes, just to see him. This brought me to the conclusion that we NEED a health clinic. I started a campaign to organize a committee with the sole purpose of fundraising enough money to construct a clinic. Well, 1 person came to the first meeting. Boy, did I let them have it!! I said, I will be leaving in 2 years, they will be staying here. It's their community and I'm here to help in the meantime, but they have to be willing to participate and and take advantage of this help while I'm here (All in Spanish of course.....)

Also, yesterday, I began visiting all of these secluded communities, house by house to begin a census for a latrine project. These people have never even had an "out-house" before, can you believe it??? Of course the main purpose of this project would be to improve health standards by cutting down on contamination. I'm working with the health-promoter there.

Last Tuesday, an engineer made the trek up the mountain to see if we have what it takes for a solar-powered water system (this was my main purpose for being sent to this site). We were exstatic that he was able to visit, and are still waiting for a response with a proposed cost. Once we get this, I will be soliciting funds from NGO's (Non-Governmental-Organizations) which is a process in itself.

On August 1st, I will begin the long-awaited for English classes. Since day one, everyone has been asking me to teach English. I admire their enthusiasm, and hope they have the spark to follow through with it. I have been diagnosed with some sort of E-Coli bacteria. The symptoms, aren't that fun, but the good news is I've lost over 15 pounds. I'm beginning a new antibiotic today, so cross your fingers for me.

I see Jim posted the latest pictures on my website http://TheVolunteer.Net but, disregard the red house (my first) as I have since moved to another and those pictures should be on soon.

Love you all and remember what God has given us,

Visit To The Capital

Posted by: Alisha

Hi all,

I feel so lucky to have the chance to write to you once again this week. I'm at the capital because some parts of our water system broke and I was sent in to buy new ones. Luckily it coincided with a reunion we're having with my group of volunteers. I love being able to hear about their experiences and getting fresh ideas.

One of the volunteers of my group of 24 left this morning for the States. She decided this wasn't the thing for her. It was sad to see her leave. We all feel very close after all that we've been through together. I also had a very informative meeting with the President of a company called 'Servicios Solar'. He explained to me the drawbacks (mostly financial) of installing a solar powered water system at my site. It would run about $100,000 U.S. He suggested I look into instead a wind-powered system, or a small-hydro system.

On Wednesday, I also began hosting patients for doctor's visits in my home. The doctor has agreed to travel to Las Marias (my community) once a week, if he had someplace to do consultations. We are using the second bedroom of my house. Our first week was very successful. There were about 50 patients in less than 8 hours. Without this service, the people have to travel by bus 2 1/2 hours for the nearest medical attention.

This week also, a group of about 30 mothers showed up on my doorstep to inquire if I would be interested in being the "madrina", or God-mother, for some school activity June 21st. I told them I would be honored, but am still unclear as to what this entails. All I know is that I have to wear a sash and have my picture taken with the students.

Again, I appreciate hearing from all of you, and your everyday happenings back home. Not a day goes by that I don't wonder what is happening in the "other-life".

Mom and Dad have just recieved the most recent batch of pictures I sent home, so stay tuned to the website for new photos.

Love, Alisha

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all" - Helen Keller

Puchica (pronounced: POO - Cheekah)

Posted by: jim

......with a large emphasis on the POO! This is Salvadoran slang for something like "WOW". I have been saying it quite alot lately.

Well, thanks to those of you who have actually noticed that I haven´t written in awhile and actually cared enough to ask me to keep writing..... for you others, I´m sending this to you anyway, and you better enjoy reading it!

A few months ago (shortly after I returned from my dream vacation to the States) my Peace Corps Volunteer role took on a different meaning. My counterpart, who is the directora of the school, and also the owner of our "general store" had to attend an emergency in the capital (i.e. San Salvador). Doctors had found a tumor in one of his kidneys and needed to operate right away. The store has never been closed since it has opened, which from what people tell me, is anywhere between 35 and 8 years ago. They had to find someone dependable to provide for the everyday needs of the people, who had a great understanding on the conversion from colones to dollars (yes, even here dollarization is underway), and someone who was satisfied with one coca-cola daily as the salary. Well, that someone ended up being myself. It sure is a good way to get to talk to people, considering the customers are my neighbors, and a great way to keep up on the current happenings of the community. Well, Thank God (Gracias a Dios!) that all is well with Don Tilo (the husband with the tumor) and is in recovery.

Other exciting news - Last week after we had no water fall (running water) for 6 days, a miracle happened! The night before the water finally came (we never know when in fact it will). I had to make a mid-night pitstop to the restroom. Well, trying to feel my way, I knocked over a bottle of (Ah-hem) Bath and Body works Vanilla Sugar-Cookie scented shower gel, that I occasionally use in the shower, that was sitting on the ledge of my pila (pronounced: PEE-lah) a 6 foot long x 4 ft wide, by 4 foot deep cement sink.

[SEE PICTURE 7 of (20) in picture album 2001-5 on TheVolunteer.Net]

This is where we store the water we use to wash clothes, dishes, and anything else. Well, that next morning, I was in heaven when, still lying in bed, the sound of running water in my pila after 6 days of dryness. You can imagine my surprise when I walked over to the pila and it filled to the brim with bubbles! I had forgotten that the lid on the shower gel was cracked and 3/4 of the bottle had leaked into the pila. Good news is, my whole house and all my clothes smell like Vanilla Sugar Cookies. Bad news is, I had NO drinking water for 2 days ´til the next time we had running water. And YES, for those of you that know my obsession with bubble baths, I did do what I swore I would do before I left here. After washing all that had to be washed, there was still about 1/2 tank worth of water and bubbles.......yes I took a BATH! (albeit a cold one, it was one without a bucket!)

Well, things will be picking up again next month after my tour as general store manager. The Health Committee I formed one year ago August, FINALLY purchased a piece of land (which is a story in itself) to build a clinic. I will be one of 20 people (the only female and the only american) to participate in a 3 month long seminar to become a mason. In the meantime, the participants of the seminar will be getting real-life experience by building the actual clinic. Well, I am trying to imagine what you are all up to as the summer winds down there. I hope wherever you are, you are being fulfilled and are enjoying each other.

Til next time....


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Story Source: Personal Web Page

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - El Salvador; PCVs in the Field - El Salvador



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