Guest Post by Ohio State Nourish Alumnus Felipe Moreno
During the summer of 2010, I traveled to Peru with Nourish International in partnership with MOCHE. For 5 weeks, five other Ohio State students and I moved rocks, shoveled hard soil, and shaped rebar in order to build a water reservoir in Cerro Blanco, Peru. It was an immense undertaking to build the reservoir on the rocky hills of Cerro Blanco. I am proud to say that the reservoir now provides potable water to the people of Cerro Blanco. After my project with Nourish International, I left with a desire to work in international development in the future. In September of 2012, I began my service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay, an obscure South American country rarely visited by international tourists.
There most striking similarity that I have noticed between my experiences with Nourish International and Peace Corps Paraguay is an effort to include local residents in the development project. In Peru, our partner organization, MOCHE, Inc., included the residents of Cerro Blanco in every step of the project. The effort to get clean water in Cerro Blanco sprouted from a water committee that was started by a few residents in the 1990s. The idea existed but the community lacked resources and ways to acquire those resources. That is where MOCHE, Inc. and Nourish International found their role in Cerro Blanco.
My work with the Peace Corps is a little different but it includes grassroots efforts to solve environment problems in Tobati. I do environmental education in a few schools and have started a few gardens in those schools. In my work with schools, I try to not push my ideas on them but instead work with the teachers and administrators to decide where I’m most useful. With my youth group, I also let them decide what environmental problems we wanted to address. They chose trash so we did a few trash clean-ups. It isn’t the most glamorous project idea but it is what they want and what the community needs.
The inclusion of the local community is something that made my Nourish project successful and I try to practice the same thing here in Paraguay. Now in my final year of service, I look forward to working more closely with the local schools and youth to address their needs and build a more environment-friendly community.
– Felipe Moreno
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