Yesterday, two of our student groups did a location shoot at a forest reserve where Cen, a local NGO, sponsors a honey production and job training program. The organization trains people from local communities to properly care for bees, and also operates a processing center where the honey from their community hives is collected, packaged and shipped to local markets for sale. Beekeepers are trained to care for several types of bees, including a variety of Africanized honey bees (commonly known as “killer bees”) and tiny wasp-looking bees that were about the size of an ant. We left the killer bees alone, and our students photographed the process of collecting honey from the beehives of the ant-sized bees and then jarring the honey for sale.
After lunch, our groups headed into the forest for a hike to the tallest waterfall in the reserve. The trip took about an hour each way, and in my mind the trail was akin to something between an Indiana Jones adventure and the journey to the pirate ship in Goonies. Moss hung low from tree limbs and wooden bridges as we scrambled up and over boulders and across streams. At one point, we even walked through the heart of a giant tree, squeezing through a twisted passageway created by its roots. We emerged from the forest at the foot of the waterfall, which tumbled into a small pool that covered giant boulders that had fallen from the cliff face ages ago. We cooled off in the pool and looked over the valley for a while, and then started the long hike back.
Meanwhile, the other two groups of students were with Fred, photographing a health center specializing in early childhood care. According to Fred, many villages are virtually inaccessible for routine medical care, not just by virtue of distance but because of the rural roads. As a result, doctors and volunteers visit specific rural locations on at least a monthly basis to deliver both prenatal and early childhood care.
The groups visited two locations where pregnant mothers receive routine physical exams, and babies are brought in for checkups and given basic treatment if necessary. At these centers, volunteers also deliver written and oral presentations for the community regarding both prenatal and early childhood health. It will be interesting to see the photos that the students were able to capture in this unique setting.
On a humorous side note, I have to say that I’ve had some interesting experiences with some amazing bugs in this forest. The first night after we arrived, we were confronted with huge beetles, giant leaf bugs, cicadas the size of a human hand, rhinoceros beetles, praying mantises, flying roaches and a multitude of different varieties of moths. (For those of you out there who are Godzilla fans, I was convinced that some of those moths were surely the offspring of Mothra!) Last night, there was a cricket nearly the size of my finger on the floor in my room. I decided to take a shower first and deal with the cricket before I went to bed. When I came out of the bathroom, a hunter spider had also entered my room and was eating that cricket. I left that guy to enjoy his dinner, and firmly tucked my bug net under my mattress as I got into bed.