Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 2 in the books!

Day 2 is complete and I'm feeling great! We started our work yesterday by meeting with the kids and clearing out the primary school's library. Today we were able to paint, and we worked so well together that we almost finished the entire room. It looks beautiful, decked out with vibrant blue, green, and purple-perfect for primary school children. Everyone is loving it as well; we have become close strangers in no time due to our sleeping quarters and one bathroom for 13 people. It's worth it though; seeing the children's faces and how grateful they are that we're here is rewarding enough for me to endure the endless humidity, lack of air conditioning, and swarming mosquitos. Yesterday we played with the kids for a while; the craziest thing to me was that I turn around all of a sudden and a swarm of kids were asking for my autograph! Who am I to be signing papers-I am just a normal, American 20 year old. I felt bad signing those papers, but if my signature on a child's scrap notebook paper was going to make their day, I was going to do it. The kids here are incredible because they all have such an appreciation for going to school and learning. Kids in America hate school and want nothing to do with it. Not only that, but they are all extremely respectful of every adult and each other; there were classrooms with teachers absent and a classmate in charge, and the kids were listening to who was in charge. It amazes me because if you left a group of 30 primary school-age children alone in America, all hell would break loose. There are a million things different in Guyana than America. For example, when you pass people on the street, they look at you in the eye and greet you rather than dragging their feet and staring at the ground. The kids are careful of each other and do not rough house. The point is, Guyanese people appreciate everything they're given in life, and they have nothing. Americans have anything they want at their fingertips and are miserable because all they worry about is how they are going to get more. It's only day two and I've been changed. Their "middle-class" families are poorer than the poorest of Americans, and they are nothing but happy. Their indoor plumbing consists of giant septic tanks sitting on their property, and you're lucky if you have indoor plumbing here. Another thing that blew my mind was that the average family of 5, consisting of 2 adults and 3 kids, make about 50,000 Guyanese dollars a month; that's equivalent to about 200 American dollar a month...for a family of five! We can't even live off of $200 a week in America, and we complain. Guyana is behind the times of first world countries, and Americans would conclude that they need help. I came here to help them, and I'm helping myself instead. I think that Americans are the ones who need help from Guyanese people to learn how to live a bit slower and appreciate the little things. Family is everything to these people; generations upon generations live in one household, yet we cannot wait to throw our parents and grandparents into nursing homes to rot away. I came here to change people, and instead I've changed myself.


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