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Project Update September 2010 Comité Ecológico Jóvenes en Lucha del Papaturro Suchitoto, El Salvador

A Refreshing Burst of Inspiration Name: Comité Ecológico Jóvenes en Lucha del Papaturro Location: Papaturro,Suchitoto El Salvador Project Start Date: Jan. 2010

Inspirational Progress! During our last visit with the youth group some months ago, we spent time brainstorming new ideas for projects that the group could start to work on. It was one of those “no holds barred” brainstorms, and many ideas flew around. We discussed things from educational worm farms to school gardens, to building with recycled materials such as plastic bottles and ecoladrillos and other innovative ways to deal with rubbish – one of the greatest environmental challenges that the community faces. There were many ideas and dreams, and I hoped that some of them would make an impact. However when we returned to Papaturro a few months later, I never could have hoped to see so much progress, on so many fronts!

“...one“...one-byby-one, the youth stepped forward and gave their project updates…” Four new recycling centres had been built—made from bamboo and plastic PET bottles; a school vegetable garden had been started that would be used as an educational demonstration with local children about organic gardening – which was a complement to the new weekly environmental education classes that they held; a demonstration worm farm had been designed (awaiting my delivery of compost worms from Guatemala!); and dialogues had been opened with local shop owners to find a pathway towards eliminating the use of plastic bags and plastic bottles within the community.

Seizing on the ideas that had been generated in our brainstorm session, the group moved forward to create plans of action and get these rolling. In their weekly meeting, I sat and listened as one after the other the youth stepped forward and gave their project updates: it was more progress than I could ever have hoped to see, and as always I am amazed and inspired by the things that this group of inspirational youth—with such limited access to computers, internet, resources, support or information—can achieve so much.

ABOVE: Corrina discussing Project startegies with the borrad members of the Comité Ecológico; TOP RIGHT: Antonio — the Comités founder — talking at the local school about biodiversity; LOWER RIGHT: Members of the Comité, giving out prizes to school children for collecting rubbish from the streets.


Project Update September 2010 Comité Ecológico Jóvenes en Lucha del Papaturro Suchitoto, El Salvador

A Refreshing Burst of Inspiration Biodigestors—the first of many? For those not familiar with the concept, a Biodigestor is a simple technology that uses an oxygen-free process to convert waste products (usually animal excrement) into methane gas that can then be used for a variety of purposes—most commonly cooking. Biodigestors are a great opportunity for sustainable development in rural communities here, where most households have animals, and rely on wood stoves and propane gas for cooking. The installation of a demonstration Biodigestor in the community of Papaturro was Antonio’s idea (the founder of the youth group), and Seres enthusiastically agreed to help with the design, community education and installation. For three days, we worked in the heat and mud alongside three volunteers from the youth environment group—excavating the 5m x 70cm x 65cm hole that would house the “salchicha” Biodigestor (so named because of its resemblance to a sausage). It was a great opportunity to better get to know these youth. While our bodies were occupied with manual work, we had plenty of time to talk, providing the perfect opportunity to start working one-on-one with these youth on their “Sustainability Pathways”: helping them to feel empowered about their own personal journey and direction forward to bring about sustainable change in their lives. TOP: Corrina and Andy installing the entrance while Antonio and Julio work on the exit. CENTRE: Taking a break while the Biodigestor fills to discuss Sustainability Pathways; BOTTOM: Corrina with Andy, Julio and Antonio—volunteers from the Youth Group—discussing the Biodigestor design

The Project Grows... Over lunch on the final day, our volunteers started to tell me about other people in the community that had seen us working on the Biodigestor and were now interested in building one themselves. As more and more names got mentioned, it became clear that we had the beginnings of a project on our hands: with three young men now trained and experienced in the design and installation of this technology. We are still working out the details of this project, so stay tuned to hear further updates as it develops!

Youth Leading El Salvador! It wasn’t just the Youth Group with exciting news to share on this visit. We too came with an announcement: the launch of Youth Lead Central America—a collaboration between Seres and our Australian partners OzGREEN to bring together youth from around the world to share their stories on leading change towards a sustainable future. The congress will be held 23rd—25th of November 2010. We will be announcing more details in the coming weeks through our website, so stay tuned!


Youth Environment Group September Update