Or….what I´m really doing as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
My mother asked me the other day, “Are you working, or are you just having fun?!?” Obviously I´m doing both!
So, to those who are wondering what kind of work I´m doing as a volunteer, here goes:
I work with a women´s group that makes jewelry out of recycled materials. The previous peace corps volunteer in my community helped found the group. They make beautiful necklaces, bags, and earrings. They need help finding places to sell their goods. They are also volunteers with a local environmental organization that is bringing them a tree nursery project, a compost latrine project, and an eco-stove project. These projects are still in their beginning phases. I help facilitate their relationship with the agency and with these projects.
I am also working on a grant for a Solar Panel for that group and another group in the community.
Recently, I started making Tower Stoves (Fogónes Torres). They´re fun and relatively easy to make. These are stoves that save firewood and don´t emit as much smoke as the traditional kind of stove used here, which is made from 3 stones. Most people in my community use gas stoves to cook on a regular basis, but they still use their fogónes to cook traditional meals like arroz con pollo and for large quantities of people. I´m going to have a workshop in December about how to make the stoves. After that, if people are interested I am going to help them make them at their houses. The bricks are made from clay, horse poop, and ash. A few people have asked for larger versions, so I´m going to work with some community members to see if we can make a larger stove that works.
Those are my three main “projects,” if you will. I also work in the school. I teach Environmental Classes in the elementary school. I try to coordinate with the teachers and their science curriculum. This trimester I have been teaching about the ozone layer, acid rain (contamination of the air and of water), and the composition of the air. November is full of National Holidays, and the school year will be over in December. I help out in the garden as well, but that project is also winding down for the year and at this point really just requires maintenance. Corn was harvested from the garden this week, so we feasted on all things corn on Tuesday.
I am also going to be a facilitator at a Peace Corps youth camp in January and February. The camp is part of the Gender and Youth Initiative in Panama. There are sessions about values, goal development, and sex ed. And games and fun of course.
That´s all for now!