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February 2014Rachelle Hobson, Assistant recruiter, Physician Services and Development PortlandToday was another great day in the village of Chioya, Guatemala. The entire team agreed that while we felt a bit awkward yesterday, that feeling was completely gone today. With a full day of work ahead of us, we quickly began construction. At the end of the day, my team had erected five stoves which we were excited about.
One of the highlights of the day was when we were waiting for the other groups to wrap up that afternoon. There was a group of small boys playing with an old plastic ball on the community basketball court. With nothing else to do, Dianne and I walked down and asked to join. Of course, the boys smiled and laughed, and spread their circle a bit wider to include us. Soon other kids joined the circle, kicking the ball from one person to the next. If it was accidently kicked over the fence and into the schoolyard, they would race to see who could scale the fence the fastest. John, who worked in Guatemala last year, joined in and suggested we play a soccer game. Sure, we thought, that would be fun! Little did we know that these were semi-professional soccer players. These kids playing with an old plastic ball had such impressive soccer skills. I could hardly keep up, running back and forth, chasing after the ball. They worked so well together, spreading out and looking ahead to see who may be open. I couldn’t help but to think back to when I played soccer at 8 years old, and how everyone clumped around the ball. These were kids who truly understood the game.
After 15 more minutes of playing, the other groups had finished their final stoves and it was time for us to leave. We gave the kids high fives and suggested that perhaps we play again tomorrow. They smiled and said yes, that they’re done with school at noon, so perhaps sometime after that. We said, yes, of course, if we have time after building stoves. With that, we loaded into the van and everyone waved goodbye as we bumped down the dirt road and out of Chioya.
Back at the hotel, I thought back to all the kids who had played with us that afternoon. Would they have a nice shower to get clean after a soccer game like I had just had? Would they be able to have a nutritious and filling dinner? Would they be able to breathe without difficulty in their homes? The likely answer was probably not, and it served as yet another reminder to me as to how important the work we are doing truly is. By building stoves in a home that was previously filled with smoke, we are giving these kids a chance to have a healthy and smoke-free life. And that equates to many more vigorous soccer games in the future for the children of Chioya, which we can all celebrate.
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