Monday, March 27, 2006

that farmer finally gave me a sack of horse poop!!!!

ok, so i promised to write about what work i´ve been doing - so here is the latest......(FYI, it´s kinda long, and i have a TON of hopefully you won´t get bored....and e-mail me if you DO find it boring or too long - i totally want feedback!)

when i first got to the school back in january i kind of just helped the teachers in their classrooms and did a lot of work on the huertos (which are, as some of you have asked, spaces where we can grow vegetable gardens). the area where they are located is above the school right next to one of the dirt streets in san jorge. the area was all grown over with zacate and all these other weird plants and weeds. some kids (the ones who were actually there in january) helped me and by mid-february, i finally got them all cleared. i´m going to work with the kids teaching them how to plant and grow vegetables - which is something i´m ultimately going to work with the women (and men if they want to) of san jorge on. the houses in san jorge don´t have ¨yards¨ or any real land surrounding their houses to grow anything except flowers here and there. and at the last meeting with the women here in san jorge they were complaining about how hard it is to feed their kids nutritious stuff because it´s expensive to have to buy the fruits and vegetables in the market all the time. so anyway, the vegetables we get from the garden at school are going to supplement their refregerios during school - because all they get now is rice and sometimes refresco or atol. and eventually, if i can organize it right, i should be able to teach some of the women how to make a “square meter garden” which is a small garden that is super easy to take care of and grow things in. you just need wood and seeds and abono organico. so that´s project number one.

the second project is a lot more difficult because it´s about fixing the trash problem in san jorge. currently there are about 3 spots in san jorge where people dump their trash - one is on the other side of the road in front of the catholic church, another is at the end of the street that the school is on and the other is across the street from the first street in san jorge. it´s absolutely ridiculous! not to mention the amount of trash that’s just lining the streets and what-not. but the problem is - there is no trash collection here, which is also absurd because san jorge is part of the municipality of apaneca, and in apaneca there is trash pickup every single day. anyway, so people here burn their trash and it´s awful. especially burning plastic. ugh. totally rank and not to mention bad for people´s health and all that.

but i´m in luck because there is a program called amigos ambientales which works with the schools and communities in ahuachapan (and only the department of ahuachapan) in recycling. so that´s one positive thing. and they pay money for recyclable products too. the hard part is getting people to take their recyclable stuff to the place where they can be recycled. and that’s in ahuachapan or san salvador. and since most of the people here don’t have cars, it’s kind of impossible. but the way amigos ambientales works is they will bring a truck and come and pick up whatever the SCHOOL collects and then pay the school. anyway, so the teachers decided that if the kids brought in plastic bottles/aluminum cans for recycling, we could use the money to buy extra food for the kids to eat during refregerio - healthy foods like milk, fruits and vegetables - because right now, when they are finished eating their rice they buy chips and candy from this woman who comes down and sells it (the woman who calls me though, she calls me “niña claudi”). and i told the teachers that we should try to get everyone in the community to give us their plastic bottles and stuff so we could 1) earn money for the school, 2) clean san jorge up and 3) reduce the amount of plastic these people ¨have¨ to burn.

so on friday i went with bessy and her kinder (4, 5 & 6 year olds) class and we went all around san jorge asking for people to give us their plastic bottles and aluminum cans. the kids were AWESOME. and the people of san jorge were really cool - giving us all they had. here are some of the pictures from that - the kids are sooooo cool!

then tuesday i gave a little talk to about 50 women (which was scary b/c it was my first real charla in spanish in front of adults) about the school program and that even if they didn´t have kids in the school it would be cool if they would participate. in the last reunion there were a bunch of moms who had asked questions about nutrition and health for the kids.....not to mention their problems buying healthy stuff. anyway - they seemed interested, and didn´t laugh at me, and then antonio talked a bit after i was is cool to see parents (mostly moms) bringing their kids into the school with a sack of plastic bottles....especially here when you see SO MUCH trash on the ground everywhere. and today i was at the school in the morning and looked out across the cancha (soccer field) and saw two kids who go to school in the afternoon picking up plastic bottles from the cancha! and if having them bring that stuff to the school instead of burning it - well that´s better than anything. some person from amigos ambientales came on monday and collected what we had, and then weighed it. it turned out that we had something like 85 pounds of plastic bottles – which is crazy because most of that 85 pounds was collected the day we went around the community and picked up plastic bottles from the streets. so it’s a start – and the more i am here, the more i realize that the kids are going to be the ones that change anything, really. so if i, and the teachers (especially after i’m gone) can drill it into their heads when they’re this age, maybe they will think twice about burning this stuff or throwing it out the bus window.

these are the two kids that i saw out on the cancha collecting bottles the other day in the morning before they came to school in the afternoon – totally awesome! the one kid on the right is so funny!

the third thing i’m doing is small activities with the kids in the school on protecting the forests and other environmental protection. we finally got to make the worm box too (which is why i am so excited i finally got horse crap because we needed it to make the worm box). i had a guacal full of worms in their dirt and estiercol (animal poop) living in my cuarto for about 2 weeks and while they were totally not a bother, i really wanted to get them into a bigger box so they could start making abono organico. elba mentioned that she’d like to start some kind of flower vivero at the school and possibly sell the flowers for more money for the school. it’s a great idea, but i have to do some research on starting this. but that’s kind of another project too.

ok, so on thursday (the 23rd) i had brought my worms to the school because i was going to do the worm box on friday – but then elba said we were going to have a “clean the school day” on friday – so i was going to have to wait until the following week. but i decided i could make one box for an “example” and then do another one with the class because i had to get the worms out of the little guacal i had them in – they were getting crowded. so this little girl – anna maria – started helping me....she was so scared of the worms at first, but then i kept telling her that they’re cool and totally not dangerous. so she started picking them up and i was super proud of her

a close-up of the worms

ok, so then after we put the dirt in it was time to put the dried horse was really funny and reduced me to third-grade behavior because i was laughing so hard.

helping cut the plastic for the worm box

i’ve also got this group of girls that keep begging me to teach them how to make bracelets. which is all fine and dandy, but i know how to make maybe two kinds of bracelets. i don’t know where they got the idea that i know how to make a ton of different kinds! but i suppose if they’re interested in it, that’s a good thing.

so that’s about it. i know it doesn’t sound like i’m doing any grand things here, but believe me, it’s soooo hard doing this type of work. especially adding the whole “speaking in spanish” thing to it. seriously, after the charla with the 50 women i was sooooo mentally tired – more than i’ve been in a really long time. organizing stuff is hard and getting people to really care about stuff like the environment is hard. but i think what i have to do is relate it to health because they care about that. they go bonzo over dengue fever which is bad, and can kill kids, BUT it’s seriously not as bad of a health threat as drinking contaminated water. which most of them are at some point or another. and the whole trash thing – mosquitoes are attracted to this stuff, and with mosquitoes come dengue and malaria and all the stuff they REALLY care about – and it’s like they don’t get it. it’s hard to blame them because for however many years before plastic was produced, most of their trash was organic – so throwing it on the ground was not a big deal. but then came plastic and people still throw all their trash on the ground. it’s so crazy, even after 6 months, to see somebody throw trash out the bus window. but everybody does it. anyway....we’ll see.