Saturday, August 25, 2012

Burn Baby Burn!

I remember going to bonfires in high school, riding in a truck to the middle of a corn field where they were burning a tractor tire and thinking "this goes against everything I believe in."  Needless to say, it still does.

Even here I used to be appalled by burning garbage, but after having it helplessly smoldering outside my back window for two days at a time I've really come to appreciate the efficient and quick conclusion to the burning of my garbage.  Just put it out of its misery already!

I've been working with Anabel, our Health Post Assistant, and Omayra, a 16-year-old who attended a Peace Corps run youth leadership camp in June, on a trash collection and burning project in our community.

It's so wet here that it's straight up hard to burn a bag of garbage or light your cooking fire for the majority of the year.  I used to think that paper was a good fire starter, but it here just doesn't light.  Plastic bags on the other hand work REAL well!

We built what we're calling an incinerator (a burn barrel/cooking stove combo - for the design aspect, not the functionality) out of a metal drum, 3/8" rebar, and some concrete blocks.

First we cut 16 pieces of rebar to make a grid which we tied together with a thinner wire.  Notice my mad left handed cutting skills - balancing out the workout!

Meeting OSHA safety standards. 

Omayra with the finished product!

We gave short charlas, or informational talks, in the school to the students as well as the parents.  I don't want to be over confident, but I think we really won the hearts of the parents.  Their eyes lit up with the reflecting flames of burning garbage!

Omayra is planning to paint trash cans and to work with the stores in town to get them to have one available.  She was super nervous to present, but she brought the house down.  I'm so proud of her!  Woot woot!

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Isn't the hike to your house mostly downhill?"

This one's for you, Luke!

What have I been up to in MY community you ask?!
Teaching children to do more than just play at my house.
Digging trenches for our water pipe three days a week!

I took our aqueduct secretary, Carmen, to a Project Management and Leadership conference with the other 15 people from my group and a member from each of their communities.  It was great!  She really soaked up all of the information on organizing groups, meetings, and writing formal letters.  It was super motivating for me to see her at this seminar, working with other Panamanians with such confidence and energy!

AND Playing!  Working as a summer camp counselor – probably the best preparation for Peace Corps I had!

Working Weekend

At first, 24 days of vacation a year seems like a lot.  And then you realize that you don't get those two free days every week(end).  Then you realize that they weren't kidding when they say it's a 24/7 job.  And I would like to ask all of those volunteers out there who say "you're going to stare at the walls for hours" and "you're going to have more time than you know what to do with" - when does that start?  :)

I spent the last weekend out visiting some friends.  Sonia and I went out to visit Sergio and Sean to help finish up some surveying… so I could take the surveying equipment.  Don’t worry, I’m not that selfless.  ;)

And Sergio took us on a wild goose chase to do so.  I'm pretty sure we walked halfway to Colombia and then crossed a river to get there.

We also took time to play in the river.  Jumping in the fast moving current and riding it down past the rocks!  Soooo fun! 

And just in case you can't see how much Sonia is enjoying herself, I'll zoom in... 

For breakfast on Sunday, we ate boiled yucca with some fresh steak… from a cow we saw, very much alive, the day before as well as cut up in pieces as we walked to the breakfast table.  It was delicious. 

Sonia: I can’t believe you guys held that cow head.

Bri: Sean held a cow head.  I touched a cow head.

Sean and I are starting a collection of pictures with dead (or soon to be dead) animals. 

I asked him what’s next.  He said a goat.  I’ll keep you updated!