Hoy en tu comunidad!!!
Hoy en tu comunidad is an amaaazing event! I went two weeks ago and it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve made. Hoy en tu comunidad is a community service offered almost every Saturday by the Facultad de Medicina de la UADY. Only bad part – you will have to wake up VERY early because you need to be there at 7am, but it definitely is worth it.
Hoy en tu comunidad is a way for students from the UADY to go to pueblos outside Merida (between 15min and 3h away) to help the town with many different favors. The towns are very poor and don’t have a lot of money to pay a doctor (nor do some of the towns even have a doctor). They also barely have vets or psychological services.
On the day I went, a lot of students had gathered in front of the medicine faculty. All of the medicine students were dressed in their white outfits, but there was a few volunteers like me who had come to help with other services to the town. We were A LOT of students and filled up 4 big tour busses. The town we went to is called Espita, approximately 2.5h away from Merida. On the bus ride we made tons of new friends and even though it was so early in the morning, we didn’t want to sleep, but just joke around with our new friends.
Once we got to the town and got off the bus, the whole pueblo was there to greet us, children, parents, dogs, police – everyone! They were applauding us for wanting to help them and it made me feel great to be able to make them smile with just my presence.
The medicine students started giving vaccinations to the dogs and checking their weight. Inside a house they were giving out citas para consultas medicas. Since the people were very poor, all the consultations and the medicine were for free. In another place the students who are studying dentistry were showing the little children how to brush their teeth. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. One child would get on a chair and show all of the other children how to do it. With lots of applause we congratulated them for what they had just learned, and each of them got a toothbrush and toothpaste to practice.
The parents of one girl came up to my friends and me and told us that their daughter needed some help with math. So we set up a round table with little pieces of paper where the kids could do some basic calculations. They were very eager to learn and liked to get their answers right, so they could show off in front of their friends. It was a lot of fun to teach them and they were very grateful. They started becoming so attached to us that they grabbed our hands and dragged us out on the playground where we would play and run for hours.
Then I met a little boy who was about to cry and didn’t want to talk to anyone. It felt horrible to see him be so sad. They told me his parents are poor and sometimes he has to help them sell Papas y Chicharrones. That’s why the other kids in his school made fun of him and his grades were very poor. We approached him, but he didn’t feel like talking to anyone. Once I found out that he had a sister who had been playing with us all the time and was all happy I started talking to her, trying to get her brother involved. After a while we discovered that he was very good at a game called Tazos. They are little plastic pogs that you place on the floor and then throw another tazo at them to flip the one on the floor. I was horrible at this game, but the sad little boy seemed to like it because he was very good at it. So we played for a long time and his mood completely changed. We all were happy to see him smile, but unfortunately there was nothing else we could do for him. We just kept on telling him that he was an amazing little boy and that he has lots of talents and shouldn’t listen to what others say. I hope he is doing better, but unfortunately I guess I won’t find out.
Later on, people from town offered to show us around a bit. We hopped on the back of a Pickup truck and drove around town where we could see a beautiful old church. We got off to walk around a bit and took lots of photos. There was one boy with us who needed to write an essay on agricultural practices and he was very interested in how they make the honey. The police offered to take us to the ranch where a local man was producing his honey. My Japanese friend was extremely excited because it was her first time in a police car. Once we got to the ranch, the guy welcomed us and showed us all around, and explained for a long time everything we needed to know about honey while showing us his bees from a safe distance.
Coming back from the ranch, the Pickup truck was of course already headed back to where we originally were. So we took a tricitaxi for 5 pesos each. They are mopeds that have a bench attached in the front part, so that one guy on the moped could take up to 3 people in the front. It was an amazing experience and the wind felt nice on the warm skin.
At the end of the day the town had organized drinks and food for everyone and made a long speech about how grateful they were for our help.
I had learned a lot, met lots of new friends, and definitely had a great day. The smile of the children and the happy faces of the parents were definitely worth waking up early!
Here are some pictures of the trip :