by: Sarah Kramer
Our first day doing cemetery work was very accomplishing. We woke up early to cover ourselves in sunscreen and sprayed lots of lots of DEET (strong bug spray). We did not smell pleasant, but we were pumped to start working on the cemetery. When we first got to the site we surprised to see part of the fence up. It was inspiring to see the workers putting forth so much energy to help us help the community. After getting out of the van everyone broke up into small groups to cover a lot of ground. Some of us carried the fencing to their appropriate places, others collected rocks to put the fences in places, and the rest of team started to uncover hidden tombstones. When uncovering the tombstones we had to be very careful. Many were under leaves, grass, and dirt, so we had to use a long crowbar to tap the surface of the ground to find them. One of the most conflicting tasks was determining how to uncover the tombstones. We wanted them above ground but we did not want to damage the surface either. However, when we got the stones upright and in ground the day became a little brighter. The process was tedious but we all worked as a team to accomplish something bigger than us.
Around noon we got a break for lunch. The local town’s school was generous enough to let us come to their cafeteria to eat our lunches. There we met two students who showed us around their school. They were thrilled to have visitors at their school. Kids would come over and say hi to us. We even have the honor to judge the school’s art contest! One of my favorite moments at the school was when we played outside on their jungle gym. The two students taught us how to play a game called ‘potato.’ It was really fun. The group then decided to show them how to play ‘Knockout.’ The time spent at the school was really interesting. Their school system is different then what we usually expect in the United States. At the school they teach their student three different languages and all of the grades are in one school. As the week goes on I hope to learn more about how their lifestyle is different from ours. Personally, I really enjoy learning more about the community and building relationships between them and the cemetery.
Around 4 pm we started to head back to the lodge. We walked away feeling proud of ourselves; some of us even wanted to keep going. Dirt covered the porch floor and our feet were dark brown, as we took our shoes and socks off. Sweaty heads, dirt from head to toes, and bright smiles, we got back to the lodge feeling proud of ourselves. We had just begun our journey of restoring history. Our efforts are helping those who can no longer help themselves, as well as bringing the community closer to their town’s ancestry. Hopefully the community will continue our work in restoring the cemetery. At the very end of the day we were all pooped-out and went straight to our beds. Oh boy, were we going to feel sore the next day.