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Working Hard, Playing Hard: Two Sites in Two Weeks and Excursions! | Nourish International

July 21, 2014 | Posted in 2014, Guatemala, Summer Projects, UCLA, UCSC | By

Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been for the UCSC-UCLA team in Guatemala. In five days, we constructed seven tables from scratch (well we didn’t cut down any trees, but each one of us learned how to use a chainsaw and cut the lumber into the right-size pieces); cut recycled plastic bottles and installed them on the mesh wall so they could be used as planters; weeded an overgrown area, made it arable and planted over 25 mother plants of 11 different varieties; finished the water collection, drainage, and irrigation system and buried the pipes under ground; built two benches from our own design and modified the construction as necessary on the spot; and taught two workshops about growing and maintaining herbs and empowerment for business.

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Jeffrey Hsiao and Marisa Galasso remove debris from window frames so that new, stronger metal panes can be installed for increased security at the Sumpango site.

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Jeffrey Hsiao and Byoearth’s Juan Pablo Pinto work on the water drainage system the UCLA-UCSC team designed and installed.

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Allison Stafford, Ashley Luna, and Marisa Galasso clear and overgrown area of grass to plant mother plants for the herbs the women at the Sumpango cooperative will cultivate and sell.

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Part of the completed space at Sumpango – water collection, drainage, and irrigation, tables, wire mesh walls, and hanging plants.

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Lili Romero masters the chainsaw to create properly sized pieces of wood for the team’s construction projects in Sumpango.

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Jeffrey Hsiao and Marisa Galasso build benches from the team’s own design.

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(Left) Anna Goldby explains how removable pieces of wood added to each table can be conveniently used to create different kinds of surfaces to work on. (Right) Members of the cooperative listen to workshops about growing herbs and business skills.

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Members of the Sumpango cooperative pose with the UCLA-UCSC team.

Oh! And we were rattled awake Monday, July 7 by an earthquake (slightly different feeling for us Californians because we’re now surrounded by three volcanoes). Not only that, every day that week one person was feeling down, yet the team pushed through and accomplished all our goals and more.

During the weekend, several of the team members went to Puerto San Jose and had quite an experience taking a camioneta (aka chicken bus) and local shuttle three hours to appreciate black sand, warm waves, ceviche, and pescado frito. The ride home was something none of us will forget, nor will our tailbones. But, hey we got one helluva deal.

This past Monday, the UCLA-UCSC team started working in San Bartolome at a cooperative that not only generates vermicompost, but also raises rabbits to use their excrement in the compost. We love being surrounded by these cute pals and the babies that boost morale. Within three days we cleared our workspace, installed and painted a blackboard, built two tables, hung wire mesh on a ledge, cut and hung plastic bottles on the mesh to be used as planters, planted 14 varieties of mother plants (in an area the women from the cooperative cleared for us – so sweet and so helpful), built two step stools, and began constructing a portioned rabbit cage. Please give us a few weeks before we can talk about the rabbit cage construction process :-/

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Anna Goldby, Marisa Galasso, and Paul Lee cut and add chicken wire to the rabbit cage for the San Bartolome cooperative.

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Jeffrey Hsiao and Ashley Luna saw lumber to create steps for the San Bartolome cooperative.

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Anna Goldby, Lili Romero, and Mimi (the president of the cooperative in San Bartolome) plant mother plants.

We took a few days off during the week to travel to Lago de Atitlan with Maria and Lissette from our project partner Byoearth. Lago de Atitlan is an unbelievably gorgeous place and we had a blast there celebrating Ashley Luna’s 21st birthday. Ayyayayaayayayayayay XD.

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Ashley Luna blows out the candles on her 21st birthday cake in Lago de Atitlan after the team surprised her with a celebration on the terrace of its hostel.

The team is truly working as an efficient and skilled unit, making each person and those involved with the project more proud each day. We can handle a chainsaw and circular saw like pros and love speaking with the women from the cooperatives and working with them to improve their working conditions. And, we absolutely love hanging out with each other and are really appreciating our time together – bickering, teasing, and laughing with (at?) each other like best friends and siblings.

2 Comments

  1. Isabella Galasso
    July 21, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Very impressive seeing the projects you have all done. Hoping you all stay on track as planned and do everything that you need to finish all your work. Taking breaks and throwing in some fun is just as important of course !!! — Best of Luck to everyone!! Take Care and Keep up the GREAT WORK !!!

  2. UCLA-UCSC
    August 6, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    Thank you so much Isabella. We really appreciate your support and encouragement – and for gracing the world with your daughter’s presence. It’s been great working on this project and we could not be nearly as successful without our friends’ and families’ support – all our love to you.

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