John Pothen, Kaveh Sadeghian, and Lindsay Shliefer have been in Paraiso for several days now and have done exceptional work in preparing for the coming project week. They report regularly by email and (when possible) by phone and the news has been positive and encouraging. Plans are coming together for the combined “community celebration” and meeting. Our success will depend very much on the early “intelligence” that our advance crew has gathered.
It is heartening to feel the exuberance of new team members as they encounter the community and our project efforts first hand. Lindsay and Kaveh barely can contain their sense of joy and hope as we move into action. For them, the work to date had been reading, talking, analyzing data, and reviewing theory and research since their selection last spring. They now see the “subjects,” “objects,” and humanity first hand. They have gotten a glimpse of the difficulties and complexities as well. How hard could it be to help a small community organize a regular trash collection effort that can be sustained without our help and presence? As it happens: VERY. The resource we had counted on (a local resident with access to a truck for regular hauling) is no longer in place and some residents are not sure that there are alternatives. Others see the value of local organization but aren’t sure that the organization can deliver the resources: access to a truck and trash bags, for example. Even limited success here could pay big dividends in improving health and building towards other community-owned efforts.
Again this year, we will be joined by a SOMOS alum. Victoria Ryan (08) will serve the team as a translator/linguist and general factotum. Victoria is insightful and embraced the SOMOS vision very early in her engagement. It will be a genuine treat to have her back to offer observations — and remembrances. She joins a line of SOMOS alums who have returned, including Brett Roth (08, last year), Matt Herrington (’05; now M.D.), who has returned several times in various capacities as a medical provider, Jim Donecker (’08), and Laura Olsen (’08). I’m sure I’ve left someone off the list — and I apologize!
The team arrives Saturday. The pulse on the team listserv suggests that the time can’t come soon enough.