Friday, April 11, 2008

House visits

Not much posting lately as I have been quite busy. Between two groups of guests in March, working on my research, and trying to get some paper revisions done by the end of April, I'm busier than anyone should be in Mexico. I have been going on a lot of house visits, this week sometimes two a day. I'm doing these for the Centro, I administer a socioeconomic survey and take photos of applicants homes to make sure they qualify for sponsorship through the Centro. I really enjoy doing this as I get to go all over Oaxaca, especially to areas on the urban fringe which relates to my research, but I also get to (hopefully) help people send their kids to school. The downside is I have to see some pretty upsetting poverty and hear some awful stories of hardship. I'm not complaining at all, but sometimes it can be a bit emotionally draining as there is only so much I can do for these families, the decision regarding whether their children will receive sponsorship is not mine. I typically offer to take a photo of their family and print it out for them which admittedly isn't much but I feel like at least that might somehow make the picture taking less intrusive. I should also mention that April is one of the hottest months of the year here in Oaxaca, just before the rainy season hits, so climbing up dirt hillsides and sitting in houses made of aluminum that turn into ovens during heat of the day can be exhausting.

The first two pictures below are of a house visit I did a week ago. This was one of the worst situations I have seen and it really affected me, more than any visit previously. The family lived in a single room in this "apartment complex". There are at least 3 other families living here, each in a single room, sharing a kitchen and a latrine. What you see is the extent of the housing facilities. As always, click on the photo to make it larger.

A child who lives in one of the rooms to the right in the photo, not the family I was there to see.

This family has to leave their house and walk a bit to use the bathroom at a relatives home.

The photo below shows the bathroom of a home I visited this week. 8 people share this latrine set away from the house. The woman who is hoping to enroll her children in the program has cervical cancer and can now only work washing other peoples clothes 3 days a week. Her husband works on a garbage truck. She showed me the photos of the cancer (which was caused by the HPV virus) that her doctor took using a tiny camera.

The photo below shows you part of the hill I climbed just this afternoon. The house was one of those close to the top of the hill, the very last row of homes (the poorest homes) in this particular neighborhood. I may have mentioned this before but the poorest live on hillsides in Latin American cities, quite the opposite of the United States.

This is a picture of the house, six people live here and share an outside latrine. The woman who was applying for support from the Centro has been the victim of domestic violence, apparently her husband has a bit of a drinking problem.

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