Hello again, friends! My apologies for the delay in publishing this next section of my Finca ABC’s. I planned to write and post this blog last week; unfortunately, I spent most of last week in bed with what turned out to be a severe, systemic infection. Our Finca clinic doctor said he had rarely seen bacterial counts as high as mine in his career, so today I am thanking God for doctors, for laboratory workers (especially those, like mine, who are able to do their job without the aid of a computer), and for strong antibiotics. Sadly, my illness encompassed my 34th birthday, so I’ve now spent both Christmas and my birthday at the Finca sick in bed. Whomp whomp.
This illness really shook me up, not just because I was so sick (fever approaching 104 and almost-unbearable head/joint aches), but because my symptoms caused me to fear I had contracted Dengue fever. Dengue is a nasty, mosquito-borne tropical illness with a certain peculiarity: it is almost always worse – and indeed can be fatal – the second time around (miserable as it is the first). There is currently a terrible Dengue outbreak here in northern Honduras, and the Finca hasn’t escaped: one of our Honduran employees recently came down with it and was out of work for nearly two weeks.
Before Eric and I left for Central America, we discussed circumstances which would prompt us to leave the Finca. One of them was if either Kiara or Adelina contracted Dengue, due to the risks –especially for children—of a poor outcome upon contracting the illness a second time. We simply aren’t willing to risk that second time. So, here’s my prayer request to everyone out there: Please join us in prayer that nobody else at the Finca comes down with Dengue, and that this outbreak is contained and those affected by it healed quickly! Thank you.
ANYWAY. Continuing along with Letters E-G…
E is for Escuela
Escuela means school, and it’s a huge part of our lives here. Each morning, the girls get dressed in their uniforms (the same uniforms that children across all of Honduras and, in fact, most of Central America wear). At 6:55am, Eric or I walk with the girls across the Finca to school. Eric teaches from 7:15-10:30am at the colegio (middle school). The girls attend school for two-thirds of the day, from 7:15-11:15am. As they’re leaving with Eric, I’m usually arriving to teach my Computación class.
I have generally been very impressed by the school here at the Finca. “Our” Finca kids comprise less than a quarter of the student population; most of the students at our school walk here from neighboring communities every day. The director/principal has been part of the school for 20 years; as a matter of fact, she used to live in the same house we live in, back when Finca teachers all lived on-site. The school conforms to Honduran national curriculum standards, which are surprisingly thorough. In a parent survey last November, our students’ families expressed extreme gratitude for the education their children are receiving.
Of course, this being Honduras, the challenges of operating a school in a developing country are real and pervasive. Many of our students’ parents have limited education/literacy, so our kids can’t get help with their homework. When it rains, the children who walk several miles to the school are delayed or prevented from coming altogether. Even the parents’ enthusiasm for the school can be somewhat heartbreaking: “I can’t imagine a better school than this one. There are classrooms and desks, and the teachers all show up! It’s a great education.”
Nonetheless, I can say with confidence that our students have the opportunity to receive a good education here, which is not the case with most rural schools in Honduras. I am proud to be contributing, even in a small way, to these kids’ learning.
F is for Fogón / Facebook
Fogón – A fogón is an outdoor wood-burning stove, and it’s an essential part of life on the Finca. All the houses on the Finca have traditional indoor stoves; however, our chimbo (propane) is rationed due to its high cost, so things that take a long time to cook (like beans or a frozen whole chicken) are always cooked on the fogón. When we first arrived, starting the fire for the fogón was a frustrating and time-consuming venture, especially when it had recently rained and our wood was damp. Now, though, we’ve gone through the process enough times and learned enough tricks of the trade that it’s no longer the intimidating struggle it once was. FYI: Egg cartons burn better than cereal boxes, and cotton – like, say, an item of clothing that no longer fits because it’s too stretched-out from hand-washing – is good to hold onto for a rainy day (literally).
Facebook – If you haven’t already “liked” the Farm of the Child Facebook page, you should do so now! As part of my Donor/Benefactor communication responsibilities, I take photos here “on the ground” and caption them for our Facebook page. My goal (which, I must admit, I rarely reach) is to have 5 photos per week to share with the Facebook world. I take the photos, caption them, and send them off to our U.S.-based Program Administrator for posting.
G is for Garifuna
The Finca is nestled among several Garifuna communities in Honduras, which is such a great blessing. The Garifuna people are a fascinating and inspirational part of Honduran/Caribbean culture. Their story truly gives truth to the term “history is better than fiction.”
Around 1675, a ship carrying enslaved people from what is now Nigeria shipwrecked in the Caribbean. The survivors made their way to the island of St. Vincent, where they intermarried with the Carib people and then successfully revolted against French attempts to force them into slavery on the sugar and cocoa plantations. When Great Britain took control of St. Vincent in the early 1800s and attempted to colonize them, the Garifuna proved to be so nettlesome to British plans that they were exiled to the island of Roatán (anti-colonialism for the win… sort of). From there, they dispersed to the mainland of Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize.
The Garifuna have their own language (a mix of Carib, French, English, and Spanish), food (lots of cassava and seafood – we watched a group of Garifuna fishermen catch a barracuda off our shore), music (lots of drums and shakers), and general lifestyle/culture. Early in our time at the Finca, we attended a Garifuna Mass at the Cathedral, and the vibrancy of the clothes, music, and dancing reminded me of my beloved Uganda. What a treat!
One particularly inspiring thing about living in a Garifuna-populated area is witnessing a sort of alternative history to the crushing legacy of slavery we know in the U.S. The Garifuna people are not an oppressed minority burdened with centuries of subjugation and institutionalized sin. Racism does, of course, exist here. But the upper-echelons of society are filled with Garifuna; they are the lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. of the region. If anything, the Garifuna seem to have more, not fewer, opportunities than the average Honduran citizen. Nationally, the country of Honduras honors Garifuna culture with the Day of the Garifuna, in which the Garifuna people are celebrated, and anyone of Garifuna heritage has a government holiday.
It’s enough to make one sigh wistfully and think, “What if…”
Okay, folks, I’m going to cut it off there, as this blog post is already longer than I intended. To be continued soon!