Arrey Salyards

 Arrey and the rest of the Georgetown GROW team after leading a tag-making session with the nutrition program beneficiaries of Xepache.

Arrey and the rest of the Georgetown GROW team after leading a tag-making session with the nutrition program beneficiaries of Xepache.

My time at Primeros Pasos was filled with a variety of activities but Georgetown GlobeMed’s GROW team’s focus was The Soap Project. Since arriving at the clinic, we were given the task of setting up concrete systems for this project while facilitating tag making. For background on the project, it was started a few years ago by Alexis Doyle at Notre Dame. Georgetown GlobeMed is in the process of taking on leadership for the project. The goal of the project is to install soap dispensers in schools in the community from selling bar soap with hand made tags in the United States. My most rewarding experience during my time at Primeros Pasos was tag making. Through working with the nutrition program, we contacted around 10 women in Xepache to paint tags for the soap we plan to sell in the United States.

Tag making sticks out in my mind as the most impactful moment for me during my time at Primeros Pasos because it gave me a chance to talk to women in the community, see the children in the community who will be benefitting from the soap dispenser installation, and see the success of a project the GROW team spent weeks working on. Many women expressed the importance of our project coming to Xepache. As one women put it “many forget about our community” and the Soap Project demonstrated to community members that people are still thinking about them. Even more, the women painted the tags which gave them an outlet for artistic expression. Many of them were not exposed to painting before our event. We asked the women to paint something that represented Guatemala to them. We purposely left the prompt broad to allow the women freedom in what they painted. Additionally, many women were excited to get involved in a project that will directly help improve the health of their children. Women spoke to the uncommonness of children washing their hands, and the positive contribution that Primeros Pasos has given to this effort through educational programming. The lessons learned about hand washing through the education program can be realized through providing students access to soap at their school. Beyond the women, the young children at the tag making were adorable and talkative. The kindness the children showed me demonstrated that no matter where we come from, kindness is a universal language. In the end, we made around 300 tags and met our goal. The tags were beautiful and the women spent time on each individual tag. The tag making allowed us to accomplish our goal of making tags, but, more importantly, it gave the GROW team a chance to better connect with members of the community and better understand the communities that Primeros Pasos serves.

Primeros Pasos