NOTE: This article is part of a series of 12 articles on Peru and the many beautiful aspects of this country. There is a post for each day I spent there, although some may not be relative to that particular day. I intend to post two articles a week for this series, on Thursdays and Mondays.
Service projects are always my favorite trips. I love being outdoors helping someone and breathing in culture at the same time. Service projects allow you to meet people up close and personal, developing a connections stronger than one would just passing by in the streets or a neighboring seat on a train. During our trip to Peru, we were able to help out a school for two of our days there.
This particular school was settled within the Andes mountains and was mostly for the younger grades (Kindergarten, I would say). We got to meet some of the teachers and the principal, which was awesome. All of them were particularly fantastic women who were kind and brilliant at their job. Our group of just over twenty would be divided throughout the days on four or five different jobs, each helping the environment and the school.
Behind the shed was a lean-to being built to hold construction and gardening supplies. It still needed a roof, which was done by most of the strong men on our team. One of them was actually in the construction field, where he builds sets for movie studios in Hollywood. If any of you are CSI fans, he is to thank for many of the scenes you see in the series. While there were a few difficulties, they got this done in no time.
PAPER TEARING AND SOAKING
One great thing about Peru is how eco friendly they are. There is recycling bins everywhere and the whole place is fairly clean. In order to do something with the trash, a group of us was used to tear all the paper products, such as cardboard, newspaper, or old art projects into tiny pieces.
From there, the pieces would be dumped in a 50 gallon barrel and be left to soak. The water would be changed occasionally until all the paper was a big, brown, and somewhat stinky mush. From there they would mix it with glue and set it in a mold to create boxes and bins to hold numerous school items. It was sort of like papier-mâché, but on a larger scale.
This little school could very well be self sustained. There was little pastures of animals everywhere from pigs to ducks that could provide food or profit. There was also a few gardens, of which one of them was our task to build. One group was responsible for digging a path to the garden and pulling the roots out of the soil to start it fresh for the following year. This group was awesome, and we managed to till it by the second day.
One other project that we had was to make eco bricks. Essentially, these are little plastic bottles that are crammed with plastic and cardboard as densely as possible. Our job was to stuff them full, using sticks to push the trash down. These could be used later for small infrastructures, with mortar piled around them.
Even though this project wasn’t nearly as big as my service project in Tanzania, it was still meaningful and fun! We listened to 80s music along the way, making it even better! I would highly recommend doing a service project if possible and I’m sure I’ll be doing more in the future!