Though lots and lots of great progress has been made over the last four weeks, it is hard not to feel like the town’s attention wasn’t taken over recently by last weeks massive fiesta to commemorate none other than Saint Francisco. Over the course of the week our tiny town of 300 swelled to well over 700, as guests and family members poured in to eat, drink and be merry. The festivities kicked off last Thursday with a 5:30am butchering of our family pig, and ended at 5am Sunday morning after the last of the band members (and their dancing sidekicks, the ballerinas) decided to lay down their instruments. The entire weekend was full of wonderful events that really brought the entire community together. Carly and I reached a new level of appreciation for the extraordinary place in which we have been lucky enough to work.
On a slightly more formal note we have also reached some really great new points of success with our Youth Health Promoters. As of now, we have ended our Youth Health Promoter classes and moved on to Project Planning and Community Workshops. The classes themselves ended several weeks ago with a formal presentation by all of our students. Though Valerie and I had been a little nervous to put all of our kids up in front of the community, in the end they rose to the challenge and did a great job.
We ended up splitting the presentation into three segments and let each student then sign up for the one they were most interested in. The first group discussed the classes we had already completed and what they had learned and which had been their favorite subjects. After that the youth split off into a presentation of the community workshops which they are helping us run. These workshops have actually proved to be a wonderful opportunity to work with the kids in smaller groups and help them work more exclusively on their public speaking skills. The last portion of their community presentation focused on a discussion of ideas for our large scale community project. The audience was, during this point, allowed to suggest their ideas and give feedback to the students. In the end, six project ideas were suggested: community trash program, cocinas mejoradas, free and available medical kits and classes, public restrooms, a series of workshops and videos for community members to attend, and the expansion of our community vegetable garden. After some lengthy discussion and an open vote, both the students and folks in attendance voted overwhelmingly to move forward with a project to set up a trash program.
After the meeting we returned to the classroom with the students and drew up models for each of the project suggestions. I think we are all really excited, because not only does a trash program enjoy the most support but also of each of the models it really provides some great opportunities to expand in the future. Valerie and I are already imagining joint composting and recycling programs followed by lots of talk between the kids and the municipality over the details of eventually getting a permanent landfill developed.
We are back off into the hills on Monday for our final leg. As the rains will soon be here, we will be leading a few more workshops and hosting a ceremony/thankyou to our students and families. It’s sad to think that Monday will be our last trip up the mountain but we are so excited to put together some great packets of information to leave behind to the next group of volunteers!