A week at a Jesuit Retreat

Second thing I feel worth sharing.

A milestone is 3 month In Service Training.  It’s the first time the program class is back together after going to the sites.  It’s not like I have not seen some of them between then and now, just not including our trainer/Acting APCD.  Plus a milestone because it means our diagnostic phase is over and we can start bigger projects.   Plus with us doing our IST last, that means its only 2 weeks until the volunteers that arrive in the spring come in (Environment and Education).  Soon I will no longer be part of the newest volunteer group.  How time flies.

So getting to IST was very convenient for me.  It was held at Manresa Loyola on the west side of the capital just before the tollbooths, so I can get there by a bus from San Cristobal to the capital.  Of course since my Project Partner Rafael decided to drive, it was even easier.  We were scheduled Monday afternoon through Friday morning, with our project partners being there until Wednesday morning.

First off the bat, we gave our community/organizational diagnostics.  It was interesting to see what everyone was doing, but I was also happy to have only 5 others to listen to, so it never became a chore.  Then we had presentations on mission and vision and project planning, and time to work in pairs on planning the next year.  It was very helpful to have the time after that.  Then we bid adieu to the Dominicans and went over things like grants and documentation in English.  We also got a chance to see some of the presentations for the celebration of 50 years of continuous Peace Corps service in the Dominican Republic and go to a reception at the Embassy.

I don’t believe I have talked about my project partner much.  His name is Rafael Baez and is the President of CEPROCRO.  CEPROCRO is an organization based out of Cambita founded to help the poor of the region.  He has previous NGO experience and is never timid about speaking in public.  I will have to be more assertive about getting his attention for what I am working on, because he is drawn in many directions.  But I am very happy with working with someone who is so committed and also believes in the idea of not just giving things to the people but helping them learn how to work for them themselves.  Also he told me during Semana Santa we will go fishing, so there is something to look forward to.  The only question is, am I too old to get someone else to bait the hook?

However, since my project partner was male, I actually was roommates with Matt’s project partner for two nights.  She tried to improve my domino mixing technique and got the whole Karate Kid reference.  She also showed me a screenshot of Thundercats on her phone, which just made her even more awesome.

I actually did my diagnostic about Mucha Agua a community of the municipality about 7 kilometers from Cambita because that is where we are starting the courses and where during meetings they talked about all the things that lacked in the community.  The thing about Mucha Agua is that there is not mucha agua.  It sits on the side of a reservoir, but the potable water is a long walk and pricy.  There is more to the community than that, but I just had to point out the irony of the name and one of the top priorities of the people.

Here is a picture of the Presa.  It is called the Presa de Valdesia.  Apparently there was once a happening town there, but it got filled in to make the reservoir.  When I took this picture at the end of January it was on the lower side because the rain has been limited.  Usually the sandy part is covered with water.  Currently people of the area use the sandy area to play some pelota (ball).

Well that’s a brief overview of that.  And now it is time to get to work.


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