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Friday, April 30, 2010

Builders Beyond Borders

Beto with the Maestros in San Antonio

B-3 Kids with the family in Bernales


B-3 in Bernales


One of the Peace Corps Peru’s Water & Sanitation Program goals is to help families have access to more sanitary conditions. Most of the smaller towns in my district don’t have waste water systems. Many of the families in those towns have basic, rudimentary latrines which the families may or may not use. A lot of times the families hacen sus necesidades en el campo abierto (do their thing in the field). This is not to say you’re walking through town dodging a minefield of human excrement but it’s clearly not a very sanitary practice and can result in all kinds of illnesses and diarrea particulary in children.

During the past three months, I’ve been helping out a couple of other Volunteers with latrine projects. We were working with a Connecticut-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Builders Beyond Borders (B-3). High school kids raise money to go on a week-long volunteer trip to countries in Latin America. The funds raised pay for their trip and for the materials and tools needed for the projects. The Peace Corps and B3 have been working together for a few years and the relationship makes a lot of sense - PC Volunteers know the needs of the communities, what the potential projects are, can facilitate the in-country organization, and will be around after the kids have gone back home to help the project be more sustainable. B-3 provides the funds, labor, energy and motivation.

I’ve been working on the latrine projects in the towns of San Antonio (sans Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Mexicans) and Bernales building latrines. The first group was a little rough in that we as PC Volunteers were kind of unclear of our roles and B-3’s goals. There were also a few B-3 adult leaders that were kind of difficult to work with and some PC Volunteers that were kind of smug and full of themselves. The next two groups were fantastic! The kids interacted well with the Peruvian families despite their limited Spanish skills, worked their asses off and were fun to be around.

The latrines were built out of brick with tin or thatch/cement roofs and wooden doors. All had real toilets that would eventually be hooked into a sewer system. Some had a place for a shower and a sink. The families were excited to have the bathrooms installed and helped out with the construction. They also got a kick out of having about 40 gringos in their town at the same time and will likely talk about all the gringo kids for the rest of their lives. The kids from the US, who happened to be from one of the richest counties in the country, got to experience a different culture and see a manner of living completely different from their own.

Thanks to B-3 for all the good hard work!

1 comment:

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