Day One at Haven

Today was our first day at Haven! Haven is Oakland County’s “comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault”. This morning we met with two employees at Haven for an education session.

During education we learned about Haven’s different programs, including: the Crisis and Support Hotline, Counseling, Shelter, Advocacy, Prevention, and Educational Programming. We also explored the complexities of domestic violence and sexual assault through Haven’s empowerment model. Throughout this education session, members of the Mythbuster’s Team were able to ask questions and engage in a productive dialogue. This education session was extremely important, as it allowed the team to learn more about Haven’s individual efforts and how these issues affect everyone. Further, because of the spectrum of knowledge on our team, the education program was very helpful at contextualizing the whole week and providing the group with a jumping point for further reflection.

After our morning education session, our group broke out into different teams and assisted the shelter in various tasks. Tasks included sorting donations, preparing food for later meals, organizing bookshelves, and stocking priority items (such as detergent and diapers).

After our day at Haven we came back for our first reflection. To start off reflection we watched a Ted X talk by Scott Louis on the topic of talking to individuals who have experienced trauma. This talk reinforced the lessons we were taught at Haven: to defer to the individual, to not write someone’s narrative, to recognize the victim is the expert, and to understand that you’re role is to provide emotional support and other resources.

We look forward to learning more these next few days!

-Kaitlin & Emma

El Día Segundo

In our first night of reflection the term “limited understanding” kept coming up and I know that I was one of the individuals that used this specific phase.   I cannot speak on behalf of the whole group’s perspective, but on an individual level I know that before I came to El Salvador I only had the knowledge of what I learned from education meetings or from reading something. Because of this limited understanding I believe in a way my perspective had been crafted for me. Of course I could draw my own conclusions or look at something in a different light but my thoughts were always derived from a secondary source. Without having an experience directly you never can see an entire picture. And I definitely do not believe that by the end of this ASB trip I will be even close to a complete picture, but I believe that I will have a few more pieces filled in allowing me to have a better understanding of poverty.

Going back to that phrase limited understanding I think my understanding of poverty has changed significantly in the two days that we have been here. I never really understood why poverty was perpetuated. But poverty is so much more complex then just money, which I never really had a strong grasp of. For example someone could give an individual a large sum of money but without education that person will run through the money quickly and return to the lifestyle that they were at.

And I think the most important thing I learned about poverty in the two days we have been here is that poverty can be beautiful. Getting the opportunity to interact and be welcomed into the communidad de Las Brisas allowed me to meet individuals and laugh and smile with them. The residents of this community all had this lively, optimistic spirit. Thinking back to my limited understanding of poverty I can recall being taught certain stereotypes of poverty but none of these stereotypes were even close to being true. These welcoming individuals had this level of dignity that I cannot even put into words. Being welcomed into this community really opened my eyes and allowed me to see poverty in a different light.

The fact that I have already knowledge has grown so much in such a short time shows me really how my limited understanding was truly limited. I know that I am no where close to understanding the complexity of poverty but I know this experience has helped me see and recognize things I would not have gotten from reading some text. I came on this trip with the hopes of understanding poverty. I now know I will never be able to understand poverty, but hopefully with every passing day I will gain a new insight I did not have before.