This past week I am proud to say that my first serious basic Accounting/Book Keeping class was a success! It was held on the week following up to Easter Sunday, which is called Semana Santa here in Colombia. Usually school is out on break, every one sells candy around the streets(festival del dulce) and almost all business shuts down but the job of a Peace Corps Volunteer is never done. I am about 8 months into service and am just starting to hold successful community entrepreneurship/financial literacy courses to low income artisans based on their interest among other target audiences in my town. My strategy here is that if I hold successful classes on the topics they want to learn they will hopefully, trust me enough to pick some of the classes in the future. Working with AsoAARcO (pictured below) is a side project I picked up because this association has a lot of heart and I need as much practice as I can get with test driving new curriculum ideas I think up.
The region where I live, Montes de Maria is an isolated stretch of mountains near the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Region and the habitants of this region were heavily exposed to much of the armed conflict experienced in Colombia over the past 60 years. If you want to read more of these massacres you can read about some of the most predominant attacks Masacre de El Salado and Masacre de Macayepo. One thing I’ve been learning simply by spending my free time offering these classes to local artisans is seeing how the mind of displaced population works. This is why it was evident that I needed to find good local friends who were willing to let me practice my classes with them and be comfortable enough to tell me when they sucked.
About two months ago, I got together with AsoAARcO and we got to know each other and agreed that a partnership between them and I was mutually beneficial. The association is made up of 15 artisan workers and the “leader” is Juan, who will usually be my contact point. We agreed that Book keeping/Accounting was the first class and I went straight to the drawing board. Between travelling for politics and tending to the other 3 SENA programs I work with in my town, I began translating a beginning book keeping course I found on PC live into Spanish. Once I had the materials ready I called Juan to set a date and a month later we were in business.
Working with pueblo folk is always a lesson in flexibility and patience.
Expectation: My class was expected to have 8 students and start at 2:00 p.m.
Reality: Four students showed up at 3:30 p.m.
None the less, I was extremely happy with the out come of my new class where single entry accounted method is explained in great detail and double entry accounting method is introduced. I would repeat this class with local youth at a high school later in the school year. As for now I’m back to the drawing board with potential ideas to share with AsoAARcO in our next session. As a pilot CED volunteer, this process of brainstorming, interacting, executing and field work in the community is key to the success of the program in the future. Before us, there was no intel as to how we were going to execute our roles as PCV’s from within the community and how to take into account the different social factors that might affect the sites we get placed in. I always take the moment to celebrate a mini-victory such a smooth class. Here’s to the future of the CED program and defining what the role of a PCV will be, at least with a tad bit more detail than was handed to me.
P.S. Happy Easter from San Jacinto, Colombia!