Monday, September 14, 2009
Maira's thank you note to me, accompanied a fish from her pond.
Safiya is a volunteer at the farm who has applied for a doctorate program in the US. She does a bit of everything here and starting today she is teaching English in the afternoons. While developing her lesson plans, she has been working with Carolina, one of our employees. Carolina is quick to learn, has desire, and is a joy in general. Her sister Maira also works for us. Maira and I are together every morning and I take that opportunity to teach her English phrases and now cooking terms.
Last week we made two fresh orange cakes with oranges from the orchid. It was the first cake she had ever made, or seen made, and we made it by hand with no electrical appliances. They came out perfect and I gave her one to take home. We cushioned the hot pan and cake in newspaper so that it would not burn through the rice sack that she carefully carried it home in. Maira lives down my mountain, across the river and up a mountain. It takes her the better part of an hour to walk to work and she is never late.
She is a joy to have and at age 21 this is her first job. Maira has not had the opportunities presented to you and me. As with all of our local rural children, her education lasted only 6 years and by US standards it was maybe a 3rd grade education. The children are being cheated and everyone loses. We need these kids to have a prosperous, successful future, and they need the skills to make a living while protecting the rainforest. But it is even bigger than that, so much damage has been done as a result of deforestation for crops like cattle, coffee, and sugar. We need to teach the rural people, that they can make as much money or more than they were making with their deforested land, by reforesting with a variety of carbon sequestration tree crops.
Finca Quijote is a demonstration farm, we are leading by example while extending a helping hand, sharing knowledge and teaching what we know. Blessed with an education and opportunity, the best foreign aid we can give, is the gift of knowledge. We can see change coming, slowly, but it is coming. Maira, Carolina and the others in their pueblo, are listening and watching. Their brother wrote us a letter in Spanish, and then he looked up every word in English which does not translate perfectly, but it was an extraordinary effort to be understood. Once upon a time, they had prosperous lives, and then their employment opportunities went away. I know this to be true. Since then (20 years), they have been in survival mode and there are no jobs available for the rural people at this time. Only the rural people can protect the rainforest, we must show them how to make a living and educate their children at the same time.
You can help by donating educational supplies. We always need:
Spanish English dictionaries
used laptop computers in working order
portable sewing machines
good durable clothing such as blue jeans
We finally have an internet connection and wifi where we volunteer teach the children. Because we are off grid, and with no landline phones in the pueblo, this was a very expensive effort. Our monthly cost for a simple connection is $150.00 USD With laptop computers (easier to get into the country) we can give the kids the opportunity to go past 6th grade via the internet. Please tell everyone you know and ask them to donate their old computers so that we can teach children who have no other options. We need to teach them how to be prosperous again. Prosperous is a word they used when writing us, for them it means putting enough food on the table, shoes on their children, enough money to give their children an education and to afford a doctor when one is needed. Their concept of prosperous differs from yours.
Thank you for helping my neighbors.