Hope all our friends and family in the US are having a wonderful summer! Looks like via our avid social media stalking that the wildflowers are poppin’, babies are growing, and that you are all pursuing different life adventures with zeal!
We realize it has been a longggg time since we last posted (even though that was a resolution of ours – spoiler for our next blog post). But we wanted to give y’all a written update on what we have been up to down here in the Paraguayan winter.
March 30 – Earth Hour
For those of you not familiar, “Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring millions of people to take action for our planet and nature” (Earthhour.org). It is an hour that we turn off the lights to celebrate our environment and show our resolve to make it better. As a partner with WWF Paraguay, Peace Corps worked to have volunteers coordinate with their sites to have an event. Here in our site we worked with the ecological committee to plan a movie night in our plaza – we showed Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood.” We also lighted candles and turned off all the lights in the plaza. Participants said something into a camera we had set up about what the environment means to them, and what it means to fight for and protect our environment.
Alli finishes master project
After 2.5 years, Alli is done with her Masters in Environmental Management from Western Colorado State in Gunnison, CO. She presented her project in Asuncion via web video to an audience of colleagues, professors, and professionals in May. If any of you have interest in learning more about her project (creating a management plan for our municipality-owned waterfall park) or getting more of a glimpse of our life in Paraguay, she made a video about the work she has been doing here (although Dylan is to credit for the production quality of the video!) — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTI7yJNO44Y&feature=youtu.be
Visitors to Site
Josh and Rae – Our other “married friends” here in Peace Corps Paraguay. They have an eerily similar background story to us, and it’s been fun to connect with them while in Peace Corps. They live in a much smaller, more rural area than we do, so it was cool to have them see our site, and the differences between our sites.
Bailey – One of our BFFs in PC, Bailey came to visit us for the second time. We made good food, hung out with Michimi, and ate Father’s Day lunch at Santi’s family’s house. An example of Paraguayan hospitality – we were sitting with them earlier in the morning, drinking tereré, and they insisted that the 3 of us stay at their house for this special lunch.
Stacey/Elizabeth/Collin – Three of our friends from the US came to visit in Paraguay! It was so wonderful to show them our world. But more on this later…. !
We have continued working with the ecological committee on various projects. One such project is a recycled tire park in the health post. We have been washing and painting recycled tires over the past few weeks, and are hopeful that within the next month we will make moves to start building the structures outside of the health post.
Another project we are very excited about is the organic trash collection pilot plan. We are assisting the municipality-appointed manager of the landfill in a pilot program to collect organics from one neighborhood in the urban center. Current trash is collected on Monday and Thursday and all goes to the same place. Additionally, many people burn organics such as leaves and branches in their yard. To mitigate this, we have added a Wednesday collection day of only organics. We went door to door with the ecological committee explaining the program and now go around with the trash collectors on most Wednesdays. There has been promising participation, and we look forward to hopefully expanding the program in September.
This program has a bit of a slow start this year. With the redesign, it’s been a bit more difficult to motivate schools on a weekly basis. Also, between meetings for Peace Corps and vacations, we have not been as present in the schools. Winter Break just ended today, so we are looking forward to diving in more to this project with participating schools in the coming months.
We are really excited to start some projects at the waterfall park. These projects have been in talks for a long time with our municipality, and we are really excited to be starting them. The first is a trail project that we are particularly passionate about. We are taking a stretch of trail that is currently really steep, eroded and dangerous, and trying to make some check steps with wood pieces provided by the municipality. With some volunteer help, we have already placed 20 steps and are close to halfway there!
Another project is signage for the park. The official name is the Ecological Park of the Tembey Waterfall, yet there are no informational or interpretive signs. About a month and a half ago we went out with our two contacts to do tree identification. Since then we have been painting signs that will be put up around the park so identify different native Paraguayan trees. Additionally, we will have directional signs.
June 22 was the second Itapúa Verde meeting. This group was formed by our friends, and fellow PCVs, Alina and Daphne, through a 4-day summer retreat they planned. After the first meeting, the youth-run board made a goal that each participating district would plant 71 trees culminating to 500 trees in the district. As a group, the members were associated with the planting of over 600 tress which was an incredible accomplishment. The group now has members from 9 municipalities throughout Itapúa and has made a goal to promote recycling and environmental awareness through youth groups in each district. The next meeting is set for September and you can follow their page here for more information —-> https://www.facebook.com/Itap%C3%BAa-Verde-Red-de-L%C3%ADderes-Ambientales-2192346381004767/?ref=br_rs
Well, that’s all we have for this post. Stay tuned for some more posts comin’ out hot. But for now, here are some animal photos 🙂
Much love to you all,
Alli & Dylan