Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thoughts From Guyana

This post was written by Angie Hemric, the Caroline's Promise Coordinator in Guyana, and the team's liaison and connector:

Worlds Apart In One Place

As I look through the pictures from our work in Prosperity City today, my mind has tried to process the two worlds that call Prosperity City home. The reality of bringing this community together is complex. There are literally two different neighborhoods with very different mindsets and environments. The west side is still in the flood zone, but they have grass around them with fruit tress. There are homes that go back three and four deep, which is the depth of the land. People work more on the west side. They keep their homes up and have higher esteem within. The other neighborhood is the Jetty. It is continually depressing on this side. Every high tide brings in the water, trash and stink. You can never get ahead of it. They jetty side has plentiful children and many are under the care of a grandmother or even a neighbor. It is evident in talking to them that there is less education and less push to change. Hopelessness grows there like the garbage that piles up day after day.
As much as I tried to plan and play out the possibilities of what today would bring, I could not. I couldn't even begin to predict if ideas I had would work in this setting. How do you bring together six persons who live and breathe Guyana with six persons who live and breathe America? They talk different. They dress different. They work different. They learn different. I became the bridge builder between the two worlds. I have a Guyanese "right arm" named Lavena. She is my co-trainer and local partner in this endeavor. We talk through everything and build this bridge to connect these two worlds together. We rejoice that today was a day of connections and bridges we cannot even see yet began to be built from the work done today.
One of the first "bridges" came as we took precious time to role play walking to some one's door and winning a five minute conversation with them. We spent an hour working through it and getting the "church words and agenda" out, and the "no strings attached, we just want to help you" burned within. Today was all about partnership. We role played with partners, one American and one Guyanese, talking together and came up with a plan that would work for each pair. These same partners spent the next 7 hours walking and talking to over 250 homes. Our day began with us coming in separately and talking in our own groups. As we moved out into the community, true partnership developed with every house we visited. We all shared our day together as a team and we ended our day as a team. As the sun set our final prayer went out for the work that was started today. Our work for that day was complete, and it was done together.

Another "bridge" that will outlast the team is a literal sigh of relief on a community level. It's the "bridge" of Presence. Today the entire area was exposed to our presence as we invited them to tell us more about themselves. When we walked in at 9:00am this morning I felt the eyes scoping us out. It's the same questions we ask ourselves when someone comes knocking on our door. "What do they want?" "Why are they here?" But it goes to a whole other level when its a bunch of "whiteys" that comes into the neighborhood. In our last hour of time together we walked that same area we had covered that morning to see if missed people were now home. On this walk I realized a new attitude had formed. The people were smiling and greeting us. They realized we wanted nothing from them, and instead, were coming to give them something. On Tuesday, they will bring their tickets and receive a plastic bag with school supplies for every child in the home.

The final "bridge" is one of prosperity. How that will look from one family to the next is uncertain. The two areas of Prosperity City are diverse. One team member commented tonight around the dinner table that it seemed more difficult in the afternoon. We talked about some of the reasons behind that difficulty. One reason is the actual standard the Guyanese keep from themselves. Those on the west side seem to have more hope and self esteem; those in the jetty area seem to have little hope or desire for change. The "bridge" of Community Ownership from the entire cross sections of the area will present challenges. It will take a long term investment of committed people living self-less lives. Brother Compton asked me today what is the next step after the survey. I shared that the next step is being here every week and letting them get to know us. The next step is keeping the momentum of visible people caring about our new friends and honoring the time put into this day. So from next week when the team leaves, we will be here four time a week, doing lessons with children, talking to heads of households and living life among them.

God can make it happen. Today He brought two groups of people and blended them into one team. Today God gave us favor with the people. People came to know us and believe us for what we said we were going to accomplish. Yes, today I saw children. I put my hands on them, chased crabs with them in the mud and gave them a tender stroke across the face. If God can end our day in laughter and greater understanding of each other's language and lifestyle, then God can bring down jetty wall people and west side people.
Role Playing Surveys
Walking Out
Praying over Propserity City
Taking Surveys

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