Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gardens, bracelets and chocolate: highlights from November's Summer School in Nueva Mercedes

Another exciting week in Nueva Mercedes has come to an end and I (Georgia) am happy to be the one that has to write about it since many things have happened; new things, new difficulties, and new achievements.

I think the most important thing of the week was our vegetable garden project. The purpose of this project is to gather the women of the village in order to teach them to plant different fruits and vegetables in their home gardens. Of course this would not be feasible without the help of Edwin, the agronomist of the plantation who helps us as a volunteer. He and the previous Lichutam team started this project and we are very glad that we are able to continue with it since we already had some satisfying results from the first week. We went around the village informing the women and inviting them to our project. We had our first meeting a few days later and around 13 of them joined which is a quite satisfying number. We provided them with the seeds and Edwin informed them on how to prepare the land and to protect their garden patches from animals.

After 3 days we started our tour around the houses to see what the women did. It was a pleasant surprise for us to see that the women who we visited did a great job preparing their little gardens. Doing the planting demonstrations took around half an hour for each house. The willingness and the work of the women motivated us to continue the project further.

This motivation was needed especially after a week of low levels of participation from the older kids from high school. Each day we had activities such as literacy, computer classes, chocolate workshop but the attendance rate was unfortunately very low. While trying to find out why, a girl informed us that next week the ones who failed some classes at school had to attend their resit exams and thus, had to study. So the week ended again with hope that we will continue our projects with many more kids. Of course this only applies for the older kids since the afternoon activities with the younger ones are not included. There, they support us  fully by participating in our maths treasure-hunt, our computer lessons, our bracelet making and so on.

For me especially the last project is a personal achievement because, of course with the help of the team, it was an activity that kids from all ages loved. I showed them different ways of making bracelets so that the little ones can make something simpler while the older ones something more complicated. By using any available materials from the market and even though the choices are limited, the kids did a great job! We used  different color threads, wooden and plastic beads, and also strings and loom. The most worthwhile part is the fact that they could take something at home with them, show it to their families, and give it as a gift to their mothers and sisters.

Last but not least I have to say that there are some hard moments here in Nueva Mercedes; with continuous and long-lasting power and water cuts which have consequences not only in our everyday (and mostly evening) life but also in our projects. Unfortunately, two days we couldn’t use the computers at school since there was no electricity. However, even those little obstacles didn’t bring us down. We just need to adapt, be flexible, and use our creativity in order to find other educational activities; something that so far worked well and made us stronger as a team.

Written by: Georgia

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