First day of work

The team broke up in to smaller groups and, joined by a group translator and stove installation expert, we made our separate ways to the homes of families set to receive a stove. The 20 minute trek from town to the homes of families was a journey past banana, palm, and long-needle pine trees, through a forest maze of 12 foot high cornstalks, along deep chocolate walkways, that rose and fell against almost impossibly steep hills. Everything felt lush and overflowing and alive, but nothing compared to meeting people—families with children of all ages and extended families—in their homes. It quickly becomes obvious that, while the purpose of the work is to install the stove and transform the space of cooking to create a healthier environment for the family and reduce the risk of acute respiratory illness, the real work has very little to do with stoves and has everything to do with the relationship between us as guests and witnesses in the lives of this family in this moment, on this hillside, above this valley… Learning the names of children, struggling to speak a few broken words of hello, thank you, what is your name in Q’eqchi’, all the while transcending the limits of different languages to meet each person where they are, in their home. Many of us shared our thoughts afterwards and talked about engaging with our eyes as well as our words, with our hearts and our hands. Each visit ended with a prayer of shared thanks giving.Image

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