Thursday, March 20, 2014

Aji de Gallina, More info on Wuqu Kawoq

The clinic was about the same today, although I was done before 11 so I got to come home very early.  I did appreciate that because I downloaded several more articles for my project during my extra time with the internet.  Lunch was Aji de Gallina, as seen below.  Definitely one of my favorite Peruvian dishes, but don’t even think about it if you have a peanut allergy.  I'll be learning to make it in the near future, and you may be lucky enough to have me share the secret recipe with you too :)  

In the afternoon I talked to Mila about changing to the regional hospital.  She had gone in the morning and learned that for students here it costs $$ to do rotations there.  That’s strange to me.  But, I’m not a student, I’m a volunteer.  So she found someone else to talk to and they directed her to another lady who typically coordinates these things.  That person won’t be back until Friday morning, so then Mila and I will go to her office and see what we can do.  I so hope this works out, I can’t imagine a better place to be.  Wild, but a great experience. 

After a nice run I met once more (online) with the people from Wuqu’ Kawoq.  Everyone who I’ll be working with is from the social sciences, and I’m from the rock-hard science of physics.  I know it will be uncomfortable and difficult for me at times this summer, but I’m extremely excited to learn from an in-depth experience in another discipline.  Just how I like itJ

Location: Paquip
This town speaks almost exclusively Kaqchikel.  It’s clearly not a big tourist attraction.  In this town of 2000 residents, there are 2 schools and a health center.  The clinic is technically government run and does have a general practice doctor, but Wuqu’ Kawoq still plays a significant role there.  They both have a longer history of them and understand the language more extensively.  Now that the town is growing there are a few places open for food and American clothing of all things.  That’ll be interesting to see…  America has influence everywhere it would seem.  Maybe Nike will start making ads in ancient Mayan languages, who knows.  The gender roles in the town are well-defined, with women working at home to clean and prepare meals while men spend most of their days doing agriculture.  The medical problem that we will be exploring in depth is malnutrition, particularly in children.  In the malnutrition of very young children, there are 2 primary warnings signs: underweight and underheight.  I usually think of underweight when I think of this theme, but underheight is actually a bigger deal in relationship to overall developmental effects.  This problem is especially potent because it regularly goes unnoticed, especially when the entire population tends to be short anyway.  I learned yesterday that genetics plays a relatively minor role in height until age 5, which is why the investigations of very young children clearly demonstrated the presence of malnutrition. 

Background of the project:
As mentioned above, children were used to find the presence of malnutrition in the community.  Mothers breast feed their kids for about 6 months, and it was at 6 months of age that the researchers noticed kids falling off the growth curve.  Why?  Several reasons.  One, the transmission of bacteria is more common in solid foods than in breast milk.   They noticed an increase in diarrheal infections in this age group.  Additionally, this town is impoverished.  That prevents many families from buying a healthy, well balanced diet for their children.

The project I will be a part of:
I don’t want to describe this in detail in the blog for fear of overstepping my bounds with this research group.  I hope that I have enticed your interest enough with the introduction that you will email me to ask about it; I can give some details in that context J

Broad outline:
·         1-2 weeks of Kaqchikel class to prepare me for basic interactions in that language.  Timing depends on what my finances allow.  The class goes from June 2-13, so it is likely that I will have to leave the country again before my birthday.
·         Start surveys after the class.  My role will likely be interviewing the men, as it is more socially acceptable for men and women to interact with people of their own gender.  This was estimated to take about 6 weeks, so I’m not sure what tasks I would be assigned after that.

Daily schedule:
·         I will be living in Tecpan, a nearby city about 45 minutes from Paquip.  This is mostly for sanitation safety reasons, as our immune systems would struggle in a smaller, less developed town. 
·         Every morning I will take the bus at 6:20 to Paquip.
·         Average arrival time will be 7:30-45, depending on the roads, traffic, driver, etc. 
·         Complete 5-6 surveys per day (they are long to prevent ambiguity while sticking to yes/no questions)
·         At 1PM I will take a bus back home.  I will not ever miss this bus because it’s usually the only one out each day.  I will probably also bring snacks, because that would be too long for me to be without food.
·         In summary, I’ll have about a 5 hour work day with long commutes on both ends.
·         Hopefully, I will have a good deal of time to run there since I want to continue altitude training. 
·         Afternoons will also consist of entering the data into Excel sheets and completing my med school secondary applications.

 It’s going to be quite the summer J

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