Friday, July 29, 2011

NAPA-OT out and about on field trips


1st stop was to ‘Long way home’ where a man from the US was given some land and then after realising how expensive it would be to build, looked into recycling methods and did some research – and then founded this recycling building project. So they employ locals for the job opportunities and teach in local masonry techniques. It is amazing to think about these people about what motivates them to do these projects in the middle of nowhere and really commit. Surely it is more than just having the opportunity and access to a plot of land. For example he talks about wanting to ‘prove’ himself and gain respect by showing to the community that he could dig out the land with his own bare hands. What is behind all of this?

Field Visit - Comalapa - local Kaqchikel Curandera, Maya Works - microcredit cooperative

We then visited the traditional Medicinal women (Cuarandera) which was really exciting. IT was interesting that she said that she found her calling only later in life when she was 48 years old. This is when she started to practice. She presented 5 or 6 different plants that she commonly uses to treat ailments (would love to know more about what these plants are and the connection between her methods and naturopathy practice). She also mentioned that she assists people following surgery including with infections. She says that she eats just plain comida but then if she gets sick will treat herself with herbs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday 22.7.11

Another great day on the fieldwork program. The day started with finalising our NGO interview schedule ready for Friday. The NGO group will be conducting an interview with Wuqu’ Kawoq (NGO who’s mission is to improve health care outcomes by strengthening Indigenous languages, culture and access to medical services). Our project is about looking at the viability of matching the organisation with another one which is called ‘Link for health’ who is involved in matching volunteer surgery teams from North America and the viability of this. So we have a detailed interview schedule ready for Friday.

We had lectures this morning about the Guatemalan health care system. This was great to have an overview of the tiered structure which again resources Biomedical interventions and health promotion/ traditional healing services based in the community appeared to be a ‘added benefit’ and hardly funded. Interesting cardio-obstructive pulmonary disease was the number 1 killer – presumably related to preventable occupational hazards including smoke exposure (cooking), pollution. After that came, HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infection, violence (interesting factor on top of list) and then perinatal. We also were introduced to the political structure of Guatemala where we talked about the corruption in voting and also for whom is able to be elected. Also interestingly number 1 income for Guatemala is remittances from abroad.

I was well aware of the gap in discussion of Occupational concepts that had potential to be linked with Med anth concepts presented. Was there the possibility of Occupation overview and the OT voice to be included in the discussion on ‘Guatemalan social security institute’. How does occupation and employment relate to health care in Guatemalan context? What are the occupational health issues? How do peoples lifestyles and occupational choices link to health outcomes of indigenous people? How does cultural practises affect this? Frameworks around this?

And a dynamic discussion about the Rigoberta Menchu book. From the ethics of the David Stoll critique of the book not representing ‘truth’. This was my first exposure to the social science of Anthropology to discover and strive for ‘truth’ by uncovering accounts from different points of view. Another good point made was perhaps the frustration of indigenous people of not only being ‘under represented’ but being ‘misrepresented’ by Rigoberta’s story. The point was made that it is a testimonial (subjective version of a story ) vs an ethnography or a illness narrative. From my point of view the story has every right to be ‘illogical’ or represent a ‘collective memory’ given the traumatic history and experience. It has every right to exaggerate the truth given the horrors that a human being has had to suffer through. That is my OT ‘meaning and purpose’ and ‘therapeutic’ hat. But in terms of talking about responsibility of being ‘scholarly’ or ‘ethical’, Im not sure. But I definitely agree with the responsibility of anyone determined to ‘critique’ and pick apart someone else’s story especially with a trauma history is strange. I was also looking around and thought that the discussion would be truly enriched by the addition of local Guatemalan anth/ OT (or closest things to?) students who could join as part of a scholarship program. Wouldn’t half half be so great?! So many local people would really benefit and be empowered by discussion and critique on own health services and build collegial relationships with students from different health system experiences.

Also a final quote that stirred me with the ‘ethics’ workshop. “not everyone wants to be empowered”. I am not sure what this is getting at but I believe that most people would prefer power over non-power and perhaps the meaning is more about being ‘used to’ and authoritative approach to health care.

It is also quite interesting how the info about ‘mentality’ of Guatemalan people reflects the conversations I am having with my SPansih teacher. He appears to believe that things are ok in Guatemala just not wanting any more violence, blaming past troubles on the US intervention during Cold War and not wanting or caring about elections because it wont change anything. It is also that foreign concept I am learning about the power or drug cartels in central America. Which makes me wonder.. who buys these drugs and do they know or care how it is affecting other countries? What is the history of this trade? It has been going on for years I guess.

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Day of NAPA-OT

Monday 18 July 2011

Wow our first day on the NAPA-OT program!! It was really amazing!!! The day started with us meeting everyone outside the church!!!! Was a quick meeting and then we were on the ‘chicken bus’ to the Common Hope centre. It was an exhilarating but safe experience having to be able to travel with the whole group.

I was almost jumping out of my skin with excitement when the presented about Occupational justice, then OT then Medical anthropology !! Was so amazing to have all 3 in one! I felt so excited could hardly sit still and I really wanted to record the whole thing – I guess it was like having my OOFRAS hat on – that this gem should not be wasted! So we got into our NGO network group – I am with other students, Max, Sarah G, Stephanie and I. So we start tomorrow with Rachael and Gelya on the project.

For dinner we had potato and meat presented on a banana leaf which was nice and then we had fruit and crepe for breakfast. Im so much happier here and family is really friendly at dinner times.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dancing in Antigua - Salsa and introducing Guaguanco!

So as soon as I arrived in Antigua - on the second day I was looking for Salsa to improve my ability to follow moves. Looking back I think I have improved a lot!!! Also Erin and I tried a Cuban/African rhythm class with 'Manolo" at "Salsa y Mas' - was so much fun and really different!!!

Meeting Victor – my Salsa teacher. -- (14 July 2011) It was one of those moments where I followed my instincts. On the way to find the recommended salsa school in town, I followed my ears into a shop not far from my homestay and thoroughfare to the Spanish school. It was a small bar named, … with a groovy checker tiled dance floor and a wall of reused books. Luckily there was also another Guatemalan girl sitting at the bar, a friend of Victor’s who spoke great English and a current dance student. She helped me communicate given my limited Spanish and his lack of confidence with his English and encouraged me with her positive experience of classes with him. Victor, 30 year old Guatemalan man who has travelled the world to Salsa congresses, Japan, Paris, US etc, specialising in Puerto Ricon and Cuban salsa. His dance partner got married 3 years ago and so this affected their dance partnership (like 4-6 hours of training daily!). His philosophy is to respect the connection and interaction between himself and his dance partner and having fun (machismo). When I handed over the 80Quetz as a deposit for the 5pm lesson, I was a little uneasy about the trust I had placed in him, a stranger. But in this case I ‘felt the fear, and did it anyway’, and was pleased I did!

The lesson today was fabulous, he did everything right to gain my trust, was there on time (also another girl was there “Linda” from Norway who was a dancing friend and who I coincidently met again that night), listened to what I wanted, invited me to solo so he could guage my level (I politely refused! was too shy!), identified and corrected me quickly about ‘following’ techniques to improve, taught me new stuff (‘Shining’ meaning when woman or man choreo a solo!) and spent time chatting afterwards in mix Spanish and English as best could to communicate. However we since realised that we both spoke a little Japanese - so thats how we continued to communicate - was very funny our broken Japanese!!!!