BENEFITING: POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Potrero Sur has a well-cared-for school that serves nearly 40 local children of different ages. The main economic activities in the community are farming and raising cattle. Families also cultivate basic grains like beans, corn and wheat and 80% of this production is sold in the closest city market while 20% is consumed by the families of the community. Cattle are raised for milk production, which is sold to the cheese factory. Agricultural activities affect boys’ school attendance because many parents prefer their boys to do agricultural jobs to bring extra and necessary income for the family.
The community is located eight kilometers away from the electric grid. To charge cell phones, community members must walk this distance and pay C$10 (U$ 0.41) per charge. Many families use kerosene lamps or substitute kerosene for diesel, even if the family is aware that they are at risk for respiratory illnesses. For basic lighting, some families use two D alkaline batteries with two wires connected to a tiny light bulb from a flashlight. Although this system may not provide enough light for a room, families say that it is less dangerous and more economical than using a kerosene/diesel lamp. Families spend on average C$25-C$50 (U$1-2) every couple of months to replace these batteries, which is a lot less expensive than buying kerosene or diesel.
The community of Potrero Sur is excited to have a solar system on their school because they believe that it will benefit not just their community, but also other families from the surrounding area. The community expressed the need to have electricity at their school to connect computers and provide adult education classes in the evenings. Last year, only six students graduated from the 6th grade. Only a small number of students continued onto high school because it is too far from their community to walk each day. The teachers hope that having exposure to computers in the classroom will help motivate these students and make it easier for them to complete their assignments, instead of having to walk to the nearest town to use a library with electricity. In addition to the educational potential electricity could provide, the school could also serve as a social gathering place after school hours where the community would be able to meet and hold events, like movie nights, to improve community cohesion.
Tourism and Cultural Activities
Volunteers will have the chance to visit the colonial city of Granada, the first city in the New World, established in 1524. During this time of year, the annual festival of the patron saint of Granada, Virgen de la Asunción takes place. Processions fill the street with colorful flowers, decorations and fireworks. August 15th is the “hipico”, a parade of horses with cowboys dressed to impress. The Friday preceding the “hipico” is the “tope de torros” or running of the bulls, where men and boys dress up in red and are chased by bulls in the street, similar to the Spanish tradition. While in the community of Potrero, we will participate in cultural activities to get to better know their way of life: milking a cow and learning about the local dairy business, learn how to make tortillas.