Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From London Concrete Jungle to Nueva Mercedes

Como te va? ( masala chol?)

1. Presentationof the local coordinator

Hello everybody!!!!

Four months have passed since I arrived to the beautiful Polochic Valley. Let me introduce myself, My name is Daniel Lopez, and four months ago I accepted the challenge of being Li’Chutam Local Program Coordinator. I do apologize for taking so long in introducing myself but It has been busy in this side catching up with activities, getting to know and being at the service of Nueva Mercedes and La Ceiba..

About me:

Through my life, my interest led me to do studies on MSc in Anthropology, Environment and Development, which related to my curiosity about the controversies arise from the impact and implications of development initiatives or process (from extractive industry, intellectual property rights, agriculture mechanization vs. Small holders´ production, bio-piracy....   ) in the environment and the people who inhabit these ecosystems. I am passionate about topics such as indigenous rights, environmental justice, the on going Green Revolution, and the relation between education and sustainable development. During my undergraduate, I did work in Mexico teaching in an Huichol indigenous Community Inter-cultural school; placement by which I produced a little article on the reasons and implications of constituting such a schooling system. For my masters I came back to the same community as I have got interested, during my undergraduate, in the relation between Huichol Traditional Knowledge on corn and maize biodiverisity conservation in two Huichol villages.

2. From London to Nueva Mercedes   

So, as I was saying, four months ago I switched London concrete jungle and its ‘red double deckers’ noises for the sound and songs of different species of birds, frogs, and other animals inhabiting Nueva Mercedes surrounding forest where Lichutam Volunteers House is placed.

3. Supporting the school as away to introduce myself to the community 

As I arrived, my first task was getting to know the community or better stated: leave the community to get to know me. After formal introduction with 10 community COCODE (Communal Authorities), I spent the first month and a half supporting Nueva Mercedes Primary school pupils and teachers as such during the daily classes and participating in communal and school events such as Independence Day Parade and activities, children day and 6th Grade Primary School Graduation. Within a few weeks children and adults got accustomed somehow to my presence in the village, and as I was walking by, my name could be listen in the wind: ‘Daniel, Daniel, Daniel’..... called by the very younger generations in a form of ritualistc way to say: ‘hello, we are here’.... I passed my little non-working hours visiting the village and conversing with Jonas at his central village shop - also meeting point of people.

Me with the local children
                                                                                                                                                                 By supporting the school in a daily basis I get to know the community children, teachers and some of the family parents while learning about specifics of Guatemala educational system in rural areas and how Lichutam academic support might encourage best practice of teachers and pupils as such.  

4. Educational day out Quirigua and Playa Dorada   

As part of Lichutam efforts to improve access to a wider and more integral educational process, we finance and organize an educational day out as a prize and incentive for 6th Grade Primary school students achievement of their grade. We left at 3 o´clock in the morning on the 14th of October, in the middle of a wet night we gathered at Nueva Mercedes Primary school tired but with smile faces in order to wait for Fidel bus, so we could head off and arrive early at the ‘Archaeological Site of Quirigua’. 

Trip to Quirigua

 We chose  Quirigua as our destination because of being a place with incalculable cultural and historic value as well as being an attempt to get the children closer to their ancient Maya culture.  After a few walks over ‘Quirigua Maya park’, we packed into the bus, this time heading off  to Playa Dorada where we have lunch and time to enjoy the Izabal Lake.  

Playa Dorada

5. Extracurricular activities and the new volunteers

Li’chutam has been offering educational activities in a weekly basis since October. Access to education has been strengthened through IT-classes for Primary school children based in the educational games offered by the ‘Edulibre’ operating system version of Linux. Activity beloved by Primary school students whom twice a week have the opportunity of reinforcing maths, vocabulary, and logic through games such as: Maths space invaders, Kanagram, Hangman, memory cards and other games designed for different grades. 

IT-class for Primary School students

Although with some time of silence we also recovered IT classes offered to Basico students with IT Diversificado graduate Milton Favian. The classes for Basico are based on learning Microsoft Office package through useful exercises.

IT-class for Secondary School Students
I also take the opportunity to present the two new volunteers: Anna Heikken (from who you already can read about in the last post of our blog) and Julia Odinga whom will introduce herself next week through this blog. With their help and collaboration new activities, rather than IT has been also scheduled:

 Sports - circus workshop

The idea came across, as our new volunteer, Julia, brought a slack-line and different juggling material and other we could built too. Sports and psicomotriz abilities are also important for the development of children.So we dedicated one day to juggle with Primary school students. Children seemed to enjoy the activity. Below some pictures.

Games Day

Practising mobility and logic with ‘mikado’ game. Anna and Julia also created a quiz game whose objective was to expand and enrich knowledge and vocabulary as such.

All of these and more activities we will continue improving in an attempt to diversify and contribute to a more integral educational process for the children involve. So keep checking our Blogg and Facebook page for news from this side.
6. Scholarships

Li’chutam scholarship program has continue expanding. We are happy to announced that finally Li’C hutam will be sponsoring 18 Basico students and 5 Diversificado, in total 23 students will be supported by Li’Chutam.

Graduation of Milton, one of the students who received the scholarship from Li Chutam
7. Family Gardens

In terms of the Family Gardens, due to our interesting partnership with ITSACAN , the gardens are beginning the road towards sustainability. Six families are successfully growing local ‘criollo’ and organic seed varieties of spinach, ‘camote’, ‘ayote’, ‘yuca’, and local cherry tomato (kocpish=tomate pequeno). By planting local ‘criollo’ varieties families will be able to save, and exchange seeds between them, rather than buying it in the veterinary.

I have been always curious about the wonders of nature, but I discovered a passion about plants since I do the Family Gardens visits- so I pulled my sleeves up and began to work also my own garden while doing the visits. So far, at the volunteer lodge we have: ‘kocpish’ (tomate pequeno, spinach, camote, yuca, sweet chile and lets hope for the ‘moringa’ germination.

What it became a hobby also turn out in something useful for the Family gardens project as we have been able to provide the families with 36 camote guides, kocpish seeds and we will have soon different kinds of chile seeds, more spinach reserves, yuca and still more camote. All of our seeds are also local ‘criollo’ and organic varieties obtain from different families and ITASACAN.   

Sustainable development theoretic frame goes hand with hand with the promotion of ‘local ‘criollo’ organic seed varieties. In few months, if everything goes well, families will be able to save more seeds from a determinate crop from their own production. In the future, ITASACAN will continue to provide us with  local organic seeds accustomed to the region ecological conditions. Moreover, other workshops will be schedule with ITASACAN ‘Basico’ students and coordinator such as: ‘cooking workshops’ so families can learn how to cook and what to do with new crops introduce such as our Chinese spinach.   

With this I say bye for now but readers can also follow us regularly on Facebook and more updates will come soon in Li Chutam´s Blog
Cha Qui la quib!!!! Que les vaya bien!