Thursday, October 27, 2011

Peace Corps Partnership Project

          Hope 4R Youth is an effort to educate, inspire, and offer opportunity to the youth of a small indigenous community in the northern highlands of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.  The department of Alta Verapaz has one of the highest poverty rates in the entire country, which itself severely lacks health care and  yields the highest malnutrition rate in Latin America.  This often times causes children to feel they have no control, diminishing hope and the ability to dream big.  Hope 4R Youth aims to show the children there are aspects they can control, now.  These begin in areas as basic as their health, wellness, and surrounding environment.  The program will include two weeks of workshops, with a three work construction period during which a recycled playground and completed kitchen stove will be built.
          The first week will focus on a number of environmental issues and activities including the 4R’s (Reducir,Reutilizar, Reciciclar, Recoger), water conservation, tree planting, trash decomposition  and classification, and recycling bin construction.  The interim three weeks will include building a recycled playground, including the use of eco-bricks (bottles stuffed by the children with inorganic waste), and an improved block-stove with ventilation .  The final week will focus on nutrition, the food pyramid, the building of tire gardens, dental health, self-confidence, and exercise.   The community will be contributing $311, accounting for nearly 30% of the total cost.
          The project will officially be completed in a 47 day period; January 9- February 24th.  The three teachers and I are currently in the process of organizing the lesson plans and creating a ‘guide’ which future teachers and other schools can use to conduct similar trainings and projects.  Included in the proposal are the brief lesson plans for the two weeks of training, as well as the playground games we will be constructing.  We are collecting and organizing the plans from a variety of sources, ranging from Peace Corps published workbooks to our own unique ideas.

       From January 9th through the 22nd we will be collecting and purchasing the materials for the four week project.  This includes everything from materials for the playground to supplies for the lessons.  The students (75) will bring their money for their dental supplies during the collection period as well.  The Guatemalan school calendar begins in January and runs through October.  This will allow a few weeks for the students to get accustomed to their teachers and being back in school mode before beginning with the project.  The director of the school owns a car, allowing for us to transport the heavier items, i.e. block, wood, cement, fertilizer, directly to the school.
          During the week of the23th through the 27th the Environmental Education Workshop will take place.  Throughout the three interim weeks the stove and recycled playground will be constructed. The tentative schedule for construction is as follows: January 30th-February 3rd- stove, eco-brick recycled bench; February 6th-10th- teeter-totter, swing-set, balance beam; February 13th-17th- tire ladder, tire goal posts, tire worm.  Depending on progress, the older children of the community will be asked to help on the weekends if additional time is necessary.  During the week of February 20th through the 24th the Healthy Choices and Exercise Workshop will take place.  Following the workshops, the teachers will put together a maintenance plan for the new infrastructure.
          The women of the community regularly use the stove at the Chibulbut School.  Whether preparing snacks for the students or cooking with the local women’s group, the respiratory effect of the smoke from the cooking fire is extremely hazardous.  The construction of the ‘improved stove’ with ventilation will significantly reduce this issue, allowing for a virtually smoke-free kitchen.  Likewise, the building of the playground will encourage increased exercise and activity.  Both of these infrastructure improvements will aid the community in meeting a long-term goal of healthier and longer lives for the community members.  This a basic, but integral goal in improving quality of life and the basis for being able to reach other goal or aspirations.
            The prosperity of our future lies directly within our youth; education is the foundation for our youth to prosper.  The students will learn and grow throughout the duration of the workshops and construction.  Participating in activities covering themes ranging from personal hygiene to trash decomposition, the Hope4RYouth program will instill a greater sense of understanding in the youth of Chibulbut enabling them to make better and more educated decisions.  These are decisions which will directly affect their bodies, health, and environment, directly affecting their futures and community as a whole.  Without one’s health and well-being, all other goals are cut short.  Therefore, concentrating on the well-being of the students and their surrounding environment, even on a basic level, will enable the next generation in Chibulbut to hope, dream, and prosper.
Project Link

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