I’ve been waiting for what seems like hours just to get on. When it finally comes, with some hesitation, I manage to board. I’ve been on this before, but each time feels like the first. I know it should be safe, but something tells me that this is not always so. The speed at which we are going increases. I close my eyes, only to open them again, finding myself head on with what could very well be my ultimate demise. Will I make it? Will I survive this? So what if I do? Tomorrow it will just happen all over again…
This is merely an everyday ride on a Guyanese minibus.
In reality, I have become pretty accustom to this daily adrenaline rush, and it has just been one of the many things becoming more and more familiar to us as we adapt to our new Guyanese lives.
Training by Fire
We are approximately midway through training, and have been in Guyana for one month. Time is still a very hard concept to nail down. Hours seem long, but days and weeks fly by. During this month I’ve found myself doing things I never thought I would be doing. From taking blood pressure manually, to testing blood sugar, to measuring stomachs and weighing babies, to teaching 6th grade classes – the moral of the training story is: Be Prepared. Be prepared to do anything. In the words of the Nurse/Midwife at our health center, “In Guyana, everyone does everything to get the job done.” At the point I was dealing out prescription drugs to the health center patients, I realized this is probably true. I also realized how important our Pre-Service Training has been in this sense.
Aside from the various technical skills being acquired through training, I have also had the opportunity to see more of the place I am calling home for the next two years. The capital, Georgetown, is a nice enough place complete with landmarks and Universities.
One thing I’ve been surprised with is the food. My host family makes amazing food, and I have loved nearly every meal we’ve had. My host Mom has not only mastered traditional Guyanese dishes, but also whips up great spaghetti and a homemade pizza that is worth writing home (blogging) about.
Training and getting about with our host families has kept us busy for the most part, leaving little time to think about what was left behind or what lies ahead. This is not to say there has not been any time for those thoughts. Although I am never really alone, I do feel lonely at times. I have met some really fantastic people; volunteers, host families, and locals alike, who I guess hoped could fill the spots left empty from the friends and family back home. This of course is not true. Host families don’t replace your own family, and new friends can’t replace the old ones – these are great new additions to my life, but unable to stop the reality of being 4,000 plus miles from the people I love.
In the first month here, I have confirmed what I expected to be true. This is not going to be easy. Yet from the little time I’ve had in the health centers and schools so far, I can already see that our time here is needed and important. There will be challenges to overcome, adjustments that must be made, and opportunities to learn from – but it will be worth it. In Guyana, getting through (pronounced “tru”) is a question used for the ability to complete just about anything. My host family is always asking me “Are you getting tru?” Whether it be doing my laundry, preparing vegetables for dinner, packing my bag for lunch, calling home, doing homework, or catching a bus. So far, the answer has always been yes – I am getting through. Still, I understand that this is just the beginning of my experience and opportunity to serve – and with the support of family and friends, both old and new, I’m confident I will continue to get “tru” and complete the work that I came here to do.
Coming up: In June we will be told exactly where in Guyana that opportunity lies for each of us. We complete training and will be moved to our permanent sites during the first part of July. Stay tuned!