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El Salvador Blog: Recycling, Dancing and a Radio Appearance
This week, the physical work finally started: we are building a centro de acopia, or recycling centre, from recycled materials, including bricks made of plastic bottles filled with earth and crisp packets.
The idea is that the community will bring their rubbish to be recycled and made into new things by the youth group. This has also meant using a pickaxe for the first time, which was certainly good for getting any frustrations out!
The national volunteers showed everyone up during their turn, casually digging holes twice as deep in half the time of any international volunteer.
One of the aims of the project is to raise awareness in the community about recycling. In order to do this we held talks in schools to encourage children to recycle instead of dropping litter on the streets. We did this by performing a play about rubbish, with a monstro de la basura (rubbish monster) coming out when children dropped litter. We also encouraged everyone to separate the rubbish through games, which was a lot of fun.
As my role in the project is community relations, I also had the opportunity to talk on the radio! My roommate laughed as I put on makeup for the radio talk (just for luck) but we arrived to discover two cameras in the room and that it would be broadcast to over 100 communities on both radio and television.
Though incredibly nerve-wracking, five of us managed to talk about our experiences of the project and working together with two very different cultures, as well as the benefits we hope it will bring to the community. They asked me about recycling in England, if education is free and how the government supports people to go to university, which is a big problem in El Salvador. Fortunately it’s not been only hard work so far.
Last week we had two birthdays, celebrated with dancing (bachata, salsa and cumbia) and I even managed to locate an oven in the local pandería, where the women who run the bakery kindly let me bake a cake. The birthday girls luckily avoided the local tradition of breaking an egg on their heads (just!).
We have also been thoroughly enjoying the food cooked for us every day by the local women’s group. The classic Salvadorian meal consists of some variation of refried beans, plantains, eggs and corn tortillas. A local dish we’ve all grown to love is papusas - crispy tortillas usually filled with beans, chicken or cheese, served with hot tomato sauce.
Next week I’ll be writing about how the community I’m living in, Nuevo Gualcho, was founded and what makes it so special.