So today was an interesting day because even though it felt like we were just sitting in the car and on the ground eternally we actually got a lot of stuff done. It started off at the obscenely early for a Sunday time of 8am. Maria Eugenia picked us up in her jeep-clown car and we drove off the 4 de Marzo. On the way we ran into 2 of the ladies from the barrios and of course Maria Eugenia offered to give them a ride –this is obviously the right thing to do but it’s just funny how big she thinks her car is. For the record only 3 people can fit in this car comfortably as long as the 3rd person is under 5’8. So to have 5 people in the car meant that no one was comfortable except probably Maria Eugenia. Then we dropped the 2 ladies off and picked up this Chilean nun that lives at a church/community center where RB built a water tank and bathrooms in 2014 –my first year. I was blown at how far the community center had come since it was literally a basic plot of land 2 years ago.
Anyway, at 4 de Marzo they were supposed to have a big meeting there with like 200 people from all of the different barrios. We went to talk about public health stuff. Well we showed up at like 8:45am and there was no one there…the meeting was apparently canceled but no one told us. We waited around for a while and Maria Eugenia once again told us the story of a man who beat up his wife because he found a condom lying around –a condom we had given her at the workshop in January. Akshay is currently really into finding the guy a beating him up and asked numerous times what his name was to “have a talk with him.” If we’re being honest with the average Bolivian male height of 5’5 and Akshay coming in at over 6ft I’m sure the talk would go in our favor… but beating up people is not what we are about, just for the record.
Then we dropped the sister off at a random hill –she invited us to lunch later—and we went to go see Cerro Hermoso and Alto Monterancho. I keep getting the two confused so I’ll probably mess them here too. I think we went to go see Cerro Hermoso first –it’s a super interesting community because they all have set aside a specific space to go to the bathroom… It’s not very high tech. Just like rocks, pieces of wood or aluminum in a rectangle and then sometimes a hole in the ground and sometimes not. The point of visiting these 2 sites was to pick which one we wanted to work in, in January. I wanted (still do) this one because I think it shows that they really value the bathroom. But the living conditions here were marginally better than Alto Monterancho. We saw this community next and were informed that they had no bathrooms and nothing that resembled a bathroom. This was one of the poorer communities that we had seen. Akshay clearly wanted to work here but he was nice enough to listen to my argument. Then we called Harsh later to make a final decision and they out voted me –so we will be working here next year. The initial concern with this site was that it was hard to get to, Maria Eugenia had made it sound like the volunteers would have to hike for like 10 minutes to get to it. But that just wasn’t the case. Also at this site we discussed with Maria Eugenia the potential of implementing a small business model in Sandra’s bathroom/shower unit we (Harsh) had built. We’re thinking of just renting out the shower for 1Bs a use and ultimately trying to generate $300 a year from it –that would be enough to cover materials for another bathroom and really help make our organization sustainable. We have some more questions to ask the ladies tomorrow then we’re going to do a cost analysis to try to figure out how much Sandra will spend and feasible make a year. Right now we are toying with the idea of having the ladies open up a 4th fund in each of their savings groups that is solely devoted to bathrooms. Each month or so they would deposit it into RBs Bolivian bank account (that we have yet to open) and then we would have money for a new bathroom every year –money that they made! Super high hopes on this because it would definitely ensure sustainability.
Later we went to have lunch at the sisters house – a solid lunch for Akshay coming in with rice, bread, veggies and cheese (which apparently has protein). Lunch was okay for me too. Then we essentially ripped Evo to shreds because he is a terrible man who has a lot of unrecognized children and keeps getting teenagers pregnant. Oops. Then me and Akshay watched some ladies play soccer and did nothing. The community was having a celebration for Mother’s day and invited us to it as a thank you. It was supposed to start at 3pm with dancing and stuff but we stayed until almost 4 and no dancing happened. Typical Latin America where 3pm really means 5pm.
We got back home at 4:30 pm, skyped with Harsh about some things: setting up pharmacies in each barrio –something we think we can do in this next week – and where to work next year. Then I went on a run and Akshay kept working on the survey training manual –shout out to his GF Lucia for making it look ridiculously amazing… seriously we will pay you. Then at 7:30 we started cooking probably the most aesthetically pleasing and healthiest meal we’ve had so far. Quinoa with veggies, avocado and egg and for dessert a mango. Pretty amazing. Then me and Akshay planned what we have to do for tomorrow and for the rest of the week. If we managed to accomplish everything we hope to by the end of these two weeks, then that would be awesome. Currently my largest stressor is figuring out where to get earth worms for the bathrooms… thanks to Harsh for not figuring that out.