Fourth week at UPAVIM

There were lots of good things happening at UPAVIM this week!

In Reforzamiento, the younger kids were working on the days of the week (in Spanish and English) and writing the letter i. They colored iglesias (churches), iguanas, and indios (Indians). Since they are still strengthening their finger muscles, writing dozens of letters can be tiring. With the older kids, I am still working on parts of speech. I asked them to choose a book and make lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns. After several lessons, they understand most of the categories well, and it is fun to see how excited they are when they correctly identify "el dinosaurio" as a noun and "jugar" as a verb. I have really enjoyed getting to know these students, and I love when they yell "¡Hola, Seño Clara!" when they see me around the neighborhood.

This week, the theme for the Charla de Salud Preventiva (Preventative Health Talk) was respiratory infections again. Elena (the other health volunteer) and I made lots of posters to advertise the event to the UPAVIM women and to the community. Only a few people came, but they said the information was helpful. This was only the second week of Charlas, so I think the attendance will increase as more people hear about the program. Next week's theme is preventing gastrointestinal infections, and I have been doing some interesting research on vomiting and diarrhea. I never knew there were so many types of parasitic worms!

Also in the clinic, I have continued to help with weighing the patients, measuring blood pressure and temperature, filing patient records, and spending the remaining funds from the DGFUMC donation. The clinic staff and UPAVIM women are so grateful for our church's generosity. So far, we have purchased hundreds of medications, several slings and braces, supplies for 4 first aid kits (for UPAVIM's nursery and school), copies of trifold brochures (which Elena and I designed for the Charlas), and a community health resource book from UNICEF. Thanks to the donated medications, business is booming at the UPAVIM pharmacy! To improve the pharmacy's efficiency, Elena and I updated the inventory system on Excel and taught Nurse Ingrid how to use it. We hope this system will make it easier for them to calculate profits and order medications before they run out.

The highlight of this weekend was today's trip to Volcán Pacaya. We woke up early so that we could drive to the base of the volcano and start our hike at 8am, thus avoiding the afternoon rain. We were not able to climb all the way to the crater, since the volcano is still active (the most recent lava flow was in 2014, and eruptions of gases and ash still occur occasionally). Surrounded by clouds and dark volcanic rock, I felt like we were on a different planet! At the top, we enjoyed gorgeous views of surrounding towns, lagoons, lakes, and other volcanoes (Guatemala has 37 official volcanoes and about 300 total, according to our guide). It was a great opportunity to take a break from Guatemala City and enjoy some fresh air in this beautiful country.

Although there have been some stressful moments and tiring days, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UPAVIM so far. The women are hardworking and kind, the children are adorable and full of potential, and the other volunteers have so many interesting skills and stories to share. I can't believe I have just one week left with these amazing people in this special place! I will make the most of the next five days, and although it will be nice to sleep in my own bed in Lisle, it will be incredibly difficult to say good-bye to UPAVIM.

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