Hello Mejor friends,
I have recently returned from my first month in the village. I have learned a lot and my Spanish is coming along better and better every day.
So far we (Monica and I) have facilitated a number of meetings with the youth of the village. As some of you may know, the volunteers from last year established a team of youth volunteers. The plan is that this year that same team would implement project for the benefit of the community. Also we hope to produce a number of videos that can be shared with the community that will promote health practices. The meetings we have had so far have been basically revisiting the concepts that were taught last year and beginning to plan for a project this year.
Last years volunteers presented several projects to the youth and to the community, and facilitated a vote to determine what project we would help to implement this year. It was determined that this year we would implement a waste management system here in the village. Back in Portland I was already brainstorming, and researching all of the creative ways to develop a waste management system. A recycle system, composting system, and ways of educating the community about how to minimize the amount of trash produced. Upon arrival, it became quite clear to Monica and I that implementing a waste management system that we would both feel comfortable with would be a far greater challenge than expected. In order to recycle we would have to transport the goods all the way back to Piura to the recycle center. This means paying for gas and a driver, which is not a priority for people here. Also people here are fully aware of the benefits of composting (after all they are farmers by trade), some of them do separate their organic and inorganic waste in order to use the organic waste in their farms. For others there farms are so far away (up to 1 hour on foot), the work it would take to collect and carry their organic waste all the way to their farms doesn’t seem worth it, especially since there soil is incredibly fertile naturally. So if people aren’t willing to pay for recycling, and they are fully aware of composting already, then our creative waste management system would consist of simply of collecting and disposing of trash. Disposing means burning or transporting trash to a landfill. Upon conversing with various community members and authorities we learned that people also were not willing to pay to transport their trash and they felt like a better solution would be to build a landfill just outside of the village. We didn’t feel like helping to fund or build a landfill was a good project for the youth or for the goals of MEJORC. So we decided that if we were going to focus this year’s effort on trash, we wouldn’t attempt to implement a waste management system but instead focus on education relating to pollution and waste.
We re-presented the project to the youth and to the community and we also re-presented another project option being the building of Cocinas Mejoradas (improved kitchen stoves; they use less wood and improve air quality in homes) for individual homes in the community. We had a vote and the youth as well as the community decided that building Cocinas Mejoradas would be a more appropriate and beneficial project for the youth to implement.
The youth have already put together a project plan. We will be setting up a Cocinas Mejoradas business of sorts. We will have a secretary, treasurer, and representatives. Some of the youth will be calculating and purchasing materials, some will be in charge of communicating with the recipients, contractors, and the youth team, others will be educating the recipients about how to use and maintain the new stoves, and others will be in charge of keeping track and organizing who has received new stoves and who is still waiting for new stoves to be installed.
I created this map to help us stay organized with all of the families and houses, I have a list of homeowner names that correlate with the numbers on the map.
On another note, I was prepared to show up in San Francisco and implement a method of water decontamination. I have a water-testing kit as well as the knowledge needed to purify water. Below I created a short video clip to explain how that end of things is going.
Perhaps the water testing kit will come in handy down the line?
Also I introduced the slack line, and it has been a hit. I have been setting up the line a couple of times a week and the kids love it, also the adults often gather to watch. Some of the teenagers have caught on really quickly.
Thanks all for taking the time to check out the post,