I've decided to make this post about projects I've been up to these past three months that as an environment volunteer you can get involved in. First up:
All environment volunteers receive a training on how to build sustainable ovens in their communities, and you may choose to use those skills or not. These ovens use better wood and are built with a chimney, that way less dangerous smoke travels into the baker's systems. Since I live in a huge departmental capital (+75,000 people), this project seemed a bit overwhelming to execute, so instead I have bettered my oven building skills by helping other Peace Corps volunteers build ovens in their communities. The thing about stoves, is they are A LOT of work, and no two ovens are exactly alike (don't even get me started on the complexity of stoves), so I have had a range of experiences with these builds. In early March, I helped the volunteer closest to me (45 mins away on bus), with her oven project. This was the first oven I was building since the training early on in my service so I was a bit rusty in my abilities. The volunteer who I went to help however was on the last of the 10 ovens she was building, so she was a good guide in remembering the ups and downs. And we successfully finished in less than 4 hours (very unlikely when building an oven), our only help was an 80 year old man and his son. I was pleased with the work and felt like I was ready to build another 10.
One of the requirements for an environmental volunteers is to make a tree nursery with your students at your schools. This year I learned from the endless mistakes of last years tree nurseries and decided that well-managed small scale would be best, as opposed to over achieving, way too many to care for tree nursery. This year we planted a total of 20 trees with my ecological brigade at my urban school. The schools dirt is not very fertile, hard and very rocky so I decided to go to one of the local nurseries to buy dirt. But of course, the one day I want to buy dirt is the one day they DON'T HAVE ANY! Who just runs out of dirt. Well, my students had to plant with the dirt from the school, worried that the plants wouldn't grow. But all the trees have germinated and are growing in healthy and strong. The students enjoyed getting to play with dirt and learning the proper way to plant and care for their trees. I had three members from my ecological brigade last year participate in the planting to show the newbies how to do it (I WAS SO PROUD). The tree nursery planting was accompanied by a mini charla on the importance and uses of marango trees (which is what we used). I'm hoping that in a few weeks we will be able to transplant them to their permanent home.
I am blessed to be born on the best holiday...EARTH DAY! This year I got to share my favorite book with my students and pretty much everyone that was around, El Lorax. Dr. Seuss is a genius in conveying such a tough topic (deforestation) in terms a child can understand and appreciate.
This year I was also fortunate to make another Earth Day mural. Last year I designed one for my rural school and worked on it with my students. This year, a private school asked if I could donate a mural to their school for Earth Day to which I said HECK YES!
I am blessed with a very active Ecological Brigade (a club for students interested in environmental issues). They are the ones in charge of making the tree nurseries, school gardens, murals and other environmental activities. Every so often, I like to treat them to a trip in their community. We've gone to the museum, farms, the river, and other places. This month we went to the zoo. The students loved getting to see the animals, they let us feed the goats, we got to see how an animal is cared for by vets and played in the jungle gym. I was exhausted and feel asleep at 7pm that day, but trips like these are always worth the extra work, and the kids love them. I felt like a crazed mama chicken trying to keep track of 20 hyper sixth graders running around the zoo.