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Q:Are you crazy for moving to Colombia?
A: No, I know Colombia very well as I frequented it often as a young girl growing up. In addition, I live in a rural pueblo which is located on an isolated stretch of mountains. It has it’s cons just like any where else in the world, but for the most part the people are inviting and warm and its a peaceful lifestyle. I would say all in all, living in Miami was likely more dangerous than what I’m exposed to here during my service.
Q:What is a typical day for you like?
A: This has to be the most frequent question I receive from locals, family and friends. My CED program is a pilot, so I expected that there would be some room to figure out exactly what exactly my daily groove would be. We have a national partner, who I am supposed to partner up with to promote financial literacy among other goals. As life would have it my arrival to San Jacinto was in early November as the holiday season was commencing so that set back my “launch” to the community. Mostly I take on the responsibility of meeting active members of my community to serve as a connector to other members who might be able to help each other out. I have the freedom to go about that how I wish so it usually includes waking up making breakfast, walking around town to be seen then coming home for the local mid day nap and catch up with my host family later at night. I just got to site about 4 months ago, so im still assimilating.
Q: What do you eat?
You have the choice to either purchase meals from your host family or cook for yourself. I love cooking and like all other Colombian mothers, my mom back in the US, worries about me being too thin and sends me packages of all my favorite non perishable ingredients. To name a few Kraft Mac n Cheese, Wheat thins, Triscuits, pilaf rice mix, I have lots of family here in the coastal region of Colombia so it was not a new thing for my family to adjust sending things over here from Miami.
Q: How do you feel about not making any money?
Honestly, I graduated University 3 days before I started my service. I am extremely proud of the fact that I was able to work my way through uni, I graduated at maybe $1,500 in my account and no debts so I take it as a win. I was more than self sustained and I do miss going to the shopping mall and buying whatever I want. At the same time Im learning many other valuable lessons that make me feel great in many different ways. I’d say im both 50% happy im not making money 50% not happy making money.
Q: Do you think its possible to be vegetarian during service?
Yes. I on the other hand was a veggie for 5 years until my service. I’m extremely busy so I can’t imagine putting the time into vegetarian meals. Not to mention my metabolism has really been on over drive since I got here so I can never seem to eat enough. Carne empanadas at every corner, during the hot blazing sun when you have a lot of walking to do. If at that time you REALLY still want to be vegetarian, you can and I commend you! But I would literally pass out in the middle of the pueblo and probably have to be medically evacuated so I’m gonna keep eating the meat empanadas.
Q: What do CED volunteers in Colombia actually do?
Long story short:
- Form and stimulate Community Savings Groups within our municipalities. Using an Asset Based Community Development approach is always preferred.
- Working with SENA in Articulación con la Media, in some kind of way.
- Working with SENA in Fondo Emprender/SER, in some kind of way.
- *Optional* Help local business strengthen their business plans.
If you have an agricultural background I would imagine you’re likely to work with a program called Cacao for Peace (Cacao para la Paz). But this is just an assumption.
We’re a pilot program…bare with us!