It has been a crazy month--sorry for the lack of updates! I’m trying to think of where to even begin. I could bore you to death with every detail but I will give you the short version.
After the Fourth of July, I really wanted to focus on completing my diagnostic. Easier said than done. Let’s just say I waited until the last minute…like usual. Distractions here are so easy to find. Including going to visit a fellow volunteer in Fontino (30ish minutes north of my site) and then going to Santiago for another volunteer’s birthday. And then Sam, the volunteer who lives closest to me comes to Cotui at least once a week, and we find many things to distract ourselves with. One day she came over and we made tacos for my host family. They were so good and reminded me of home. And my host family surprisingly liked them.
Towards the end of July the woman who started my group, Rita, came for a visit for a little over 2 weeks. She is from the DR but she moved to the states when she was a teenager and has been their ever since. She started an NGO as well as my women’s group and still plays a major role in helping them sell the purses. For example, she went to an Artesan's fair in Santa Fe, New Mexico and represented our women (since most of them cannot travel to the U.S.). Our group sold over 300 purses at a fair! Here’s a news article if you want to read more about that: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/article_4e96bfc6-9a7b-5a2b-a742-1f9f4ed797d9.html
|Shirts and bags from the fair! ...we need to work on group shots.|
Anytime Rita comes, we use the money that the women had gotten from their sales to go on a retreat. This time we went to Rio San Juan and stayed in a hostel. We just stayed one night, but we packed so much into the two days. We spent a lot of time doing self-esteem type exercises and trust exercises. It was a great weekend and I was able to get a lot closer to many of the women I hadn't known very well. And learn about their background and lives. We all were able to laugh, cry, and talk about things we normally don’t talk about in our meetings.
|My Dominican host mom!|
And on top of all of these things that have been happening, I have been house hunting and I think I have found an apartment! It was newly remodeled and is fairly close to the main road. I am just waiting for Peace Corps to come and check it out and make sure everything is secure and safe. So I will post pictures once it becomes official!
So where do I go from here? Well there are some really exciting things on the horizon for my women’s group. We have been invited to another artisan’s fair in PUERTO RICO! This means I’ll be getting to go there with them! It’s not until next year so we have a lot of planning to do as well as purses to crochet! Also, we want to be able to take some of the women with us, so I will have to work on getting them passports—which is a lengthy process. I also have many other business classes and marketing things to work with for this group—so it looks like it will be keeping me busy.
It won’t be all work though. I am also planning on starting a ballet class for girls in the barrio, La Colonia. Which for me—is more fun than work. Currently I have a sign-up sheet with 15 names of 6-8 year olds that want to learn how to dance. Now, I just need to work on setting up a space to dance, building a barre, putting mirrors up, and finding them shoes. I also am starting to take up soccer again. There is a group that plays by my house every evening. Unfortunately, I left my cleats and shin guards at home, so I am on a hunt to find cheap ones. All in all, I have a lot to look forward to—and time to do things I want and love.
Loving this job,