Monday, August 27, 2012

Ben Stehr - Appropriate Technology Technician in Nicaragua

Checking in from Leon after five fast weeks…
I spent my first week in Nicaragua at a language school called “Hijos Del Maiz”. It is located in a small, tightly-knit community called El Lagartillo, about a thirty minute bus-ride through the mountains from the city of Esteli. All in all, it was a fantastic place to begin my adaptation to a new language, a new culture, and essentially to a new world. In addition to learning more Spanish, some of my highlights included playing baseball and music with kids in the community, as well as venturing to a beautiful waterfall before my departure.
After my week of language immersion, I traveled further north to Sabana Grande where Grupo Fenix is located. I am living with a host family in a neighbouring community called Santo Domingo. My family consists of Terencio,Mayra, and their two children Adaly and Graciela. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to live with, right from the beginning I have felt at home.  In my spare time I am usually playing baseball with the Sabana Grande team or playing music with my host family and the neighbours.
I have been working on two main projects over the past four weeks. One project involves working with a group of three solar women who have a business of selling wood efficient “eco-stoves”.  These stoves (“fogones”) reduce the amount of wood necessary to cook as well as the amount of smoke produced during the cooking process. This is very important for the region because deforestation and lung disease particularly in women and children are prominent issues. The second project involves constructing and installing plastic bottle lights for people in Sabana Grande that do not have electricity or adequate lighting in their homes.  
That is all for now, tomorrow I will be tobogganing down a volcano called Cerro Negro at 50 km/hr!!
Until next time,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hannah Reid - Organic Agriculture Facilitator in Mexico

Week 5 in San Cristobal de Las Casas! Today, like most days, it has poured rain for many hours (I am now thoroughly convinced there is world-wide conspiracy to falsely advertise Mexico as being warm).

Here in San Cris, I am working with an organization called Comida Sana y Cercana, which works to promote the production and sale of organic products. As an intern, my main responsibility is to conduct an investigative market study aimed at identifying the weak points of Comida Sana y Cercana’s weekly farmer’s market (here called a Tianguis). To do this, I have repeatedly taken to the streets (rain or shine) with pen in hand to interview current or potential customers.The results have been often informative, sometimes hilarious!

When I am not doing interviews, compiling data or helping promote the Tianguis, I can often be found scaling the side of ArcoTeTe (or other mountains) with the San Cristobal rock-climbing group! Here in San Cristobal, I have the best of both worlds: a gorgeous colonial city bustling with music, entertainment and local activities (last night I went to see American activists ‘The Yes Men’ speak) surrounded by unbelievably beautiful natural landscapes! I couldn’t ask for more!

That’s all for now! Saludos a todos!

- Hannah

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Erica Nickles – Biodiversity Restoration and Community Development Facilitator in Honduras

It's my third day in the office at CCO, and so far so good! I worked on Sunday with Sandra, the coordinator of the women's group to help prepare a float for a parade tomorrow.  They have funding from a Spanish organizations to start a women's micro-empresa to collect recyclables and sell them to a company in San Pedro Sula as well as make and sell artisinal products from "garbage".  You wouldn't believe the stuff they're making!  There's no garbage pick up in Cuyamel, so not only are they addressing a serious public health and environmental problem, they're also providing income generating opportunities for some of the poorest families in the community.  I'm hoping to get some of the women involved in the kitchen gardens that Holly and Rad were working on.  Anuar will be here at the beginning of
August to help us with some ecological monitoring around the birds in the area.

Holly and Rad did incredible work here, but as you can imagine there's still much to be done.    My priority this fall will be training and supporting community members to lead the kitchen garden and environmental education work, as well as carrying on the coastal monitoring and mapping work. 

I'm staying in a giant house that has lots of space, not much furniture.  This weekend
involved lots of cleaning and some up close and personal encounters with the local bat and bee populations, but the house is definitely starting to grow on me.  Especially the giant yard with huge mango and avocado trees.  My aim's getting better - by the time I leave here
I'll be able to knock down a mango with an avocado from 30 feet at least!

Take care,