Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday afternoon we went deeper into the favelas. Favelas are the slums of Salvador. Bruno, our 'tour guide', works with CCS and is there is answer any questions we have.

Questions I asked yesterday about the favelas and the answers I got (Remember this is from one reference):

  • What percentage of the population live in the favelas?
    • 60%
  • What percentage of the population is middle class? Upper class? 
    • 35%; 5%
  • Does the government give support to those in the favelas? 
    • Each home get 214 Reias per month per child. The children must go to school in order to receive the support
  • What do people who live in the favelas do for income? 
    • Men typically work in construction of somesort or have a store front, women do housework and childcare
  • Does Salvador have any plans for the the money it is going to make from the World Cup in 2014? 
    • The poor areas wont see it. 
  • How does Salvador choose their leaders?
    •  Everyone is required to vote, but the politicians are extremely corrupt;
  • Why don't they work a little more on some of roads? (Typically improved infrastructure contributes to a better economy?) They do, they have been working on one motorway for 12 years...

    • Favelas
      Above is a picture of the favelas that we went through. Up close the streets are some of the most poverty stricken streets you've ever seen. I wasn't able to take pictures because it just wasn't safe enough.  When we drive out of Graca (where we are staying which is considered a middle class area) all you see if favelas for miles. You will see these homes stacked with multiple layers. When someone in the family gets married and has their own family, they build on top of the house. There is no building codes, so they aren't very safe. 

      We stopped to see a local artist. Prencie! He does art on tiles, a lot of the stuff is so pretty! Of course I bought a tile. It has a quote on it. You will be able to find it hanging at our house.

      We stopped at the most famous ice cream shop in Salvador! There are ice cream shops everywhere so, that it is a big title to have! I was thinking how much Bryan would love this ice cream stop! =-) 

      One of our last stops was at the Bonfim (Good End) church. This was built in the 1700s by a Portugese travler who hit bad weather when he was coming over to Brazil. He was carrying a large statue of Jesus and began praying and told God if he gave him a 'Good End' to his travels and allow him to live, he would build a house of worship in Brazil.  He survived and built this beautiful church. Religions come together at this church. 

      Inside the church

      In one portion of the church there is a room filled with pictures of people and body parts (wax) hanging from the ceiling. These came from people who prayed for a 'Good End'. Most of them were suffering from some sort of illness and God answered their prayers. These symbolize their 'Thanks.' It is very interesting to see.

      When we visited the church it answered one of the first questions I had when I came here. What the heck are these ribbons for? Here in Salvador you will see ribbons everywhere that say 'Bonfim.' People tie them on their wrist with three knots; for each knot they get a wish. The ribbon must fall off your wrist on its own. If it doesn't then you will have bad luck. 

      There is so much history everywhere we go! I'm learning a lot! 

      Tomorrow is my last day at placement, this week has flown by. It's been an eye opening experience!

      Tchau for now!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Remember the simple pleasures....

I brought a bag of  Dove dark chocolates from home. One of my favorite sweets! I opened one last night and the pharse inside said `Remember the simple pleasures in life.` How fitting!

I can't believe I only have two full days left here in Brazil before I head back! Its been a good time and after this past weekend it is going especially quick! Today at Santa Thersea I brought the kids a picture of a Rockin Lobster from a Finding Nemo coloring book! Yesterday the teachers were all giving me a hard time about my sundburn and our Capoera teacher called me a lobster yesterday. Plus the less detailed pictures I bring the better. They only get one color to use so a Rockin Lobster was the perfect one (They only needed red)!  We had a full class today of 19! If the entire class was present there would be 22 kids. I have NO IDEA how Mari handles it all!!

 I was able to bring my camera today; the kids went CRAZY and were acting like total hams in front of it! They all wanted their picture taken and then more importantly wanted to see their picture on the camera. Victor, a future futbol star, was the biggest ham of them all! He would follow me around and CHEESE as big as he could! Its amazing how no matter where we come from, how much money we have and where we go at the end of the day it inevitable that we are all happier when we get to do something new, different and exciting. That is what seeing a camera is like for these kids.

Many of these kids don't even have a small TV in their home with 1-2 channels, let a long see a digital camera!
Victor Hugo!
NATALIA aka Nache. Such a doll. 
She is shy and always seems to sit off in a corner by herself. I always try to make her laugh and get her involved. I got her to laugh for this picture!
This is the main door at the school

Maria Luiz showing us her Rockin Lobster

Me with some of the kids. From left to right Victor Hugo, Joanna, Nache, Enzo, Maria, Alicia

That is Cecilia. She is holding on to the door of the classroom.  
Clearly most of the glass is broken out. I spend a lot of time just trying to keep the escape artist in the room! There is no air conditioning or fan. To the right of the door there is one window. In order to get some cool air and stop sweating we have to get out of the room!
Victor, Nache and Andre

These three  have stole my heart! SWEETHEARTS! Andre, on the right, is always smiling and laughing. 

Feeding Alicia
There are a couple kids who don't eat fast enough or wont eat at all. I typically feed Alicia while Mari feeds Victor on the end (in the yellow). He is lactose intolerant so he has to get special food. Today they actually got a little bit of some sort of fish with their rice and beans. And of course their farota on top!

Lunch room
Nap time
After lunch day the little ones take a nap. It is honestly pure chaos for a good 10 mins until they calm down. They have mats with sheets on top. This is only half of them in there. Once they have all laid down, the mats are  completely full.

They always say pictures speak louder than words....So as you look at these pictures, `Remember the simple pleasures in life.`

Tchau for now,

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Day at Santa Teresa De Lisieux

Most of you know that there are 7 other Lilly employees here with me. Scott Monk lives in Indiana at corporate. He is a research scientist and we have been placed at the same education center to volunteer. He did such an awesome job of describing our placement, so I asked him if I could post it on my blog. Writing is definitly not my talent, but I wanted you all to get a more vivid picture of what I have been doing and where I have been the last two weeks. Scott and I are in rooms right next to each other. He has three year olds, I have two year olds.

"My placement for 2 weeks here in  Salvador is assisting at Santa Teresa De Lisieux, which is a child care  and education facility in one of the favelas (shanty towns).  They  provide child care and education for some of the poorest families in the  area.  My placement is assisting in a class with 3 year olds.  As in  any class in the US, 18 three-year olds with only 1 teacher is  overwhelming.  However, layered on top of that is the fact that most of  the children are living in severe poverty and do not receive sufficient  nutrition or attention at home.  It is now late fall in Salvador, which  is the rainy season.  (It is still quite hot and humid.)  When it rains,  it creates many problems in the favelas - the streets become difficult  to navigate, the steep sidewalks become slippery enough to be very  dangerous, and in many areas sewage may wash down the street.  Therefore, the teachers never know how many kids will actually make it  to the center on days that it rains.  Many remain at home, with or  without supervision.
Our assignments are for 3-4 hours every morning.  My job is to help the teacher in any way I can to keep order in the room while at the same time trying to incorporate some educational time.  No one at the center speaks English, which makes the whole endevor much more challanging, to say the least. 

I have managed to muddle my way through a few games in which I didn't understand a word that was said, but the kids seem quite entertained just to have another adult in the room that will give them any attention.  The kids call the volunteers tia or tio, for aunt or uncle.  The minute I tell one child the picture they are coloring is "bom" or"lindo", the cries of "Tio! Tio! Tio!!!!" fill the room with all the pictures waving in the air.  "Lindo?!!! Lindo?!!!". In our interactions with the kids, it is clear they many are starved for attention, and only get it when they are at the center.
In addition to playing and some type of education time (practicing letters,usually), the kids also get a shower and meal; for some of them, the center is the only place they will receive either that day.  All the kids get rice, and the rest of the lunch is doled out sparingly.  Black beans everyday, but some days some of the kids end up with not much more than the juice because there is not enough to go around.  There is also some type of meat everyday, but it gets distributed like small pieces of gold by one of the teachers.  It does not appear that every child gets meat, but I'm not sure if this is determined based on what the teachers think the child may get to eat at home or if they try to spread it out so that each child gets some meat a couple of times a week.  They also receive fortified milk as a "snack" during the day.  The problems with nutrition and hygiene that these kids face is very evident, as several of them already have very severe tooth decay, and they are only 3 years old.  
I'm not sure I will ever be able to sufficiently describe how amazing this experience has been from day one.  It is very intense, exhausting, terrifying, and HOT.  It is extremely frustrating at times trying to manage my way through everyday but knowing little Portuguese.  But it is also absolutely incredible and I am having the time of my life."

Scott and I have very different teachers. His is very calm and if he asks for something she says the words slowly in Portuguese. I feel as though my teacher (I also have one and 18 two year olds) seems to get somewhat overwhelmed, yet she still tries her best and shows them love as much as possible. Each day I try to bring in something a little different for the kids to do. The one constant is that I bring a different picture to color. Today was a turtle! I also brought in stickers; once the kids went through the rainbow and where able to identify the colors, they got a sticker! (Of course no-one walked away empty handed!) They loved it! Each day I walk in and they are so excited that I returned, they shout "Tia Tia!" I think  seeing someone come back and remember who they are makes them feel so loved. At the end of the day that's all that anybody really wants.

Tchau for now!


P.S. I asked Mari (my teacher) if I could bring my camera tomorrow. So hopefully I will be able to post some pics of kiddos soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Morro (pronounced Moho)

Well over the weekend we get to do what we want. So myself and a group of 4 other girls went to Morro (pronounced Moho). It was an adventure to say the least!

We left right after we got done at placement (where we volunteer) on Friday. We bought a ticket for 75 Reias which is about $50. It is supposed to be a direct 2 1/2 hour boat ride over there. When we sat down, someone who spoke a little English told us that the boat wasn~t going to Morro like they said it was. I started freaking out a little bit as the boat started backing up. He was talking to the guy that sold us the ticket to try to help us understand what was happening. After about 10 mins of back and forth we finally understood that the water was too rough to take the boat over. So we had to take a 40 min ride to one island, get in a van for 2 hours and then take another boat ride for about 30 mins to finally make it Morro.
This is the are the bus dropped us off at....I wouldn~t have kept going if we didn~t have a guy who spoke English and Portugese with us....

 The second boat we took is behind me
A pretty picture I took from the second boat
Once we finally got there, it was worth it. The boat docked and there were guys waiting with wheelbarrows that said TAXI on the side to carry our luggage. I didnt use one bc I just brought a back pack for the weekend. When I saw this though, it was weird. There are no cars on the island.
Taxi on Morro
We saw a lot of donkeys pulling things around
A picture of the beach

 The weather was really nice and sunny around 80 degrees. I applied sunscreen all over twice and somehow still got burnt to a now Im miserable.

Overall, it was nice to get away for the weekend. Back to placement tomorrow and then Friday I start my treck home. I will be ready to get back and see Bryan and the doggies!

Tchau for now,


Thursday, May 12, 2011


So yesterday I posted about Odulum. Michael Jackson actually filmed a video at the very spot I took pictures.  (Pelourinho). Regardless of whether or not you like him,  the videos gives you a really good idea of what Salvador looks like. It shows the favelas (slums) (shown at the beginning of the video). These are the houses you see stack on top of each other where the clothes hang outside etc. These are the areas where we are spending our volunteer time at. 

The last couple days at my placement we have left right after the kids eat lunch. One of the interesting seasonings they eat is called farofa (manioc flour). It comes from manioc root. The children get a bowl with some rice and beans and then farofa on top of it. If we have not put the farofa on it, they will let it set in front of them and ask Farofa! Farofa! Here is a before and after picture. The second picture is what they put on their food.

And last but not least! A group pic!

From left to right: Olivia (from Ireland), Belinda (from England), Carlos (from Puerto Rico), Me, Denai (from Indy), Jess (from Indy), Manuel (originally from Spain now in Indy) and Scott (from Indy)

Tchau for now!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Macarena WHAT?

I write you from the internet cafe!

My apologies for not  blogging the last two days. Time flies here b/c there is so much going  on. If we arent at our volunteer placement we are learning something  about the culture or studying our Portuguese. I am also going to  apologize up front for my wrong punctuation. The keyboards are different  here and dont have the same keys. IE: aren~t, don~t, can~t should all  have apostrophes.

So today was my third day at placement. We had a feedback  session after lunch today. Here was my feedback:
Number one  challenge is not communication with the kiddos, but with the instructor.  Because I am only here two weeks, I didnt want to interfere with how  she runs the room and I am having trouble asking if I can get the  children do to something.  I was/am totally wrong in this thinking;  according to Vinny, we are not interfering by bringing in `lessons`.  They actually take the ideas we have and use them once we leave. I am  working with Mari in a classroom of 18. Prior to coming I thought two  things: 1. 18 kids aren~t too bad (THEY ARE 2). 2. We only are at  placement for 4 hours a day? Let me just tell you this,  CCS has been  doing this a long time and they know what they are doing when they place  you and for the amount of time they place you. 4 hours a day with two  year olds can exhaust anyone out especially when you throw in the  language barrier. I do however understand why they need volunteers year  round. There just flat out isnt enough hands to go around. These kids  need love, hugs, some sort of structure and just attention. One of the  challenges I think short term volunteers have is feeling that they arent  contributing because we are here for such a short amount of time. NOT  TRUE. I asked Vinny what Mari has said about me being there (feedback  feedback feedback) and he said that she looked at him and just said,  thank you thank you` and `you arent going to leave me without a  volunteer right? Overall, I would say that Im forsure out of my comfort  zone, but staying patient is key.

To me, the second most important thing they  need besides extra hands is the tools to learn. This afternoon when I  got back, I got very emotional about not being able to find books to  read to them. Books are the key to learning. I looked all over the  classroom and there were about three books. They didn~t correlate though  with the age range. Even though they didnt correlate, I thought well,  lets read anyway. They ran over and just circled around me and were  THRILLED to see what was in the book and where trying to point out what  stuff was in it. IE: elephant, monkey I was thinking about where I live  and the amount of books that are available to kids and not just books,  but leap frog, interactive learning etc.As far as toys go, there is a  basket with random toys. You might find thre or four random leggos, a  head to a doll, a large piece of plastic that came from some sort of  playset at one point. This allowed me to see the IMAGINATION the  children have. I ate a lot of imaginary food today! My tummy was FULLL!

As an  educator here, you have to be extremely creative and use what resources  you have. So tonight Im going to use a magazine and cut out categories  of stuff like colors, parts of the body, transportation, numbers and  paste them to paper. Although I cant leave what I bring (due to CCS  rules which are in the best interest of the children), hopefully it will  give Mari and idea of something she can do. Ive pretty much planned out  the next several days so that things can go as smoothly as possible.  The more group activities we involve the kids in, the better the day  goes. I think this is a universal concept! =-)

Macarena what?:
Two nights ago we had Capoeria  lessons at the house. You might be wondering what Capoeria is. Our  pictures do it NO justice. My video isnt loading, so I will have to share when get back to Texas! Capoeria is a type of dancing/fighting. When slaves where  brought over from Africa, they practiced fighting, but made it look like  dancing so that their owners did not know what they were doing. When  they practiced they would `duck` so they didnt actually kick each other,  but then when really fighting they would follow through. Its pretty  intersting stuff!

Yesterday  afternoon/evening we got a tour of the Pelourinho. This is where the  orginally city of Salvador was at. It was enclosed by a wall all the way  around and had a north and south entrance. Today is consists of the  upper and lower city. This is a picture of the lower portion. Pelourinho  stands for pole. A pole stood at one end of the city and they would  sadly tie slaves to the pole and beat them.....

On Tuesday nights the Pelo turns into a different place! This is the night that people in Salvador go out and listen the drums play and dance until late into the night. We only stayed until about 10:00.  The story behind is the night life on Tuesdays is that a group of drummers called Olodum, they used to go out in the streets and play music to sell their albums. It grew into a community wide event. Now, on Tuesday nights, you can find the Pelo filled with people and goups of people playing drums everywhere. IT IS AWESOME!!!
 This was one of the groups we saw last night. I have video that I will have upload later!
This is a youtube video of Olodum  from youtube. This is what you will find at the Pelho on Tuesday nights!(kind of small, sorry!)
This is a church that has over 500 kilos of gold. A rosary was taking place when I took this picture! All that you see is GOLD!
Although Catholic is the main religion here (they have 365 churches alone in Salvador, and I thought Keller had a lot of churches!) Candomble is a also a type of religion that is practiced here. There are eight different God and to find out which God protects you, you roll shells. Below is a picture of the main food for each God. If you see the third picture it is popcorn. When we were standing there as a group I said, `Bryan worships that God!` hehehe...everyone laughed! Love you babe!

Below is a picture of their `Pepper`. They truly only have salt (not that ANY additional is needed in the food!)on the table. If you want pepper, this is what you use! Cammie, I promie this would even be too hot for you to load on your food! lol
Tchau for now!

I really miss my family and friends back home! Love you!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

From the Scientists to the Trainer!

This is a picture that came about after a deep discussion around what each of us do. When we first met we gave our "titles", but then after talking a little more we put the puzzle together on how we each are involved in a different part of getting the right product to the right patient.

From left to right we have Scott and Manuel who are mad scientists in the lab =-), Denai is a statistician that supports health outcomes, Carlos who manages a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico and then ME! I work face to face with the docs!

Discussing what each of us do and the passion we each have in our roles is awesome! I have a new appreciation for what others do to get the right products to patients!

There is so much more behind a TITLE, ask someone to really explain their role to you within the next week! You might be surprised!
Boa notie,


Happy Mother´s Day from Salvador!

Today I am thinking of my mom, mother and law and all the amazing mom and grandmas out there! Today is your day and thank you for the support and guidance you have given to many of us over the years! If it wasn't for my mom I probably would not be sitting here in this Internet cafe writing you from Salvador today. She is the reason I have been blessed with so many amazing things in my life and made the sacrifices she did to make sure both my brother and I and grew up with solid foundation. She made sure we did everything with integrity and to our fullest potential! Love you mom!

This morning we had our orientation where we went through our volunteer packet placements and discussed out loud more about where we would be. The  education center I am at is there to support children whose families are the poorest of the poor. I was looking over the schedule of daily activities and twice they change clothes during their time and we even bath them at the center; this is not a normal routine event at their home. In America we are not thinking about if we are or not going to bath our children but more often which parent is going to do it that night and which cute pjs are we going to put them in once they are all clean? Big difference. We also began going through common phrases that are spoken here and specifically in our volunteer placement areas. I have so much respect for those that learn another language other than that of their native country. Many people here speak no English at all. I took this for granted, as many of the places I have been that are NOT predominately American, majority of the populations learns and speaks English. I´m on Brazilian playing field now and I am trying so hard to make sure I show patience in trying to communicate. 

I have tried twice now to load a video of where I´m staying, but having trouble. I´ll keep trying! In the meantime here are some other photos!

I´ve seen multiple areas like this where there is a big fence all the way around a field in the middle of busy roads.

By the beach

A CHOCOLATE DIET.....WOW...if only this was possible!

This is Vinnie. He is our house Director. We were introducing ourselves, I said I was from Fort Worth, Texas....he said "O, I had someone from Texas come and he gave me this!" (and then he proceded to lasso Ronnie) I told him," yes, Vinnie, we all carry lassos with us wherever we go in Texas."

Make sure to give your mom a hug and kiss for Mother´s Day!

Tchau for now!


First Reactions in Brazil....

Well I have arrived! Plane ride went really well and I have had the opportunity to meet most of my "housemate". Everyone is so nice and shows the same enthusiasm that I do. Ronnie, Leigh and Cindy were here before we arrived. They are doing 9-12 week trips. Leigh first went to Cape Town with CCS and then came to Salvador and Ronnie is leaving today to make his next 12 weeks stay in Guatemala. So cool!

My first reactions are WOW....this city has so much history, culture, different types of people, different types of food, the list goes on and on.  When we got in the van to go from the airport to home base the first thing we saw were slums, known as favelas. They are stacked high up on a hills and most windows were open with laundry hanging to dry. There are bars on all the windows and around buildings here safety and it is sometime hard to tell when you are going from a "rough" part of town to a "good" part of town. Again, where we are staying is known as Garca. (I spelled it wrong in my last post). Right by home base we have a bank across the street and believe or not, there is actually a Subway and McDonalds here. I'm going to stay away from those, I've got enough of that back home in the states! =-)

I did take a long hot walk around town and down to the beach. (The humidity is worse than Houston and there are no air conditions here) To get down there it is about a 15-20 min walk downhill and to get back a 20-30 minute uphill hike! lol We all went together to a the north end of the beach where a line of "bars" are. It reminds me of a Brazil version of Broadway in Lubbock, McKinney Ave in Dallas or Broad Ripple if your from Indy. My point is, there is a line of little windows that each represent a different "bar/restaurant." Kind of interesting.

Getting around town is pretty easy. We wither walk or take a cab. Most of the locals use the bus system. When we passed by various bus stops there were upwards of 80 people around the stops. The buses all have open windows for air. Reminder: no air condition here. Because they don't have air conditioners you will see shutters on a lot of the building so that in the summer time (this is not summertime for them) they can "shut out" the sun to keep cool.

More to come tomorrow!

Boa noite,

 City and Beach View

This is Vinnie's car. Brazilian's that have cars typically have one that is small that looks like this. He is getting it ready to sell b/c he said he doesn't really need it. He said it costs 25,000 reias (pronounced heyis). This is approximately $15,000.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Salvador, ready or not, here I come!

I've read books, I've made a packing list, I've checked it not twice but like 40 times, I've made a photo book
 of my family and friends to bring, I've done as much as I think I can to prepare.

For some reason I fee exhausted right now. I think it's all the emotions stirring up in me. Flying isn't my favorite
 thing in the world and I'm about to be in the air for nearly 12 hours. I know people travel international all 
the time. But, Nicki Turnbow doesn't. The exhaustion also come from saying "bye" to my husband this morning;
 I broke down.  After he left, I texted him and said, "I always realize how much I love you when I have to leave
 you." We all tell our spouses/significant others we love them, but probably more out of routine on a daily basis 
because that is what you are used to doing (I'll speak for myself I guess). But, then when you have to be apart, 
for me anyway, it reaffirms the feelings I have.

Anyway, overall, two weeks isn't long, but being in a different place, with people you don't know, and with out your 
normal "routine" (I'm a routine girl) it can make you home sick. While I'm more of a homebody, I think that this
 is going to be such a phenomenal adventure and will allow me to experience another culture, and means of living.
 So don't get me wrong, I can't wait to explore, learn, teach, and grow over these next two weeks!

I had planned on bringing my computer, but last night I decided to leave it at home. No worries though, there 
is an internet cafe about 15-20 walk from out home base. I'm going to try really hard to share with yall at least
 every other day. Plus, I want to submerge myself in the culture. I think it is going to be nice walking to and from 
the cafe (with a buddy obviously).




Stay tuned friends!