June 27, 2013
The morning started off with café con leche and some bread—a typical breakfast here in Monte Alto. Then we walked for about 35 minutes to the lower school (up through grade 9) in Monte Alto. The road is red dirt and on each side there are rolling fields of sugar cane that stretch out until the mountains in the distance. Once at the school, we played human knot as an icebreaker for us and the students there, and then split into groups to work on various projects having to do with recycled art. My group made wallets out of cardboard cartons, and other groups made bracelets out of trash bags and art out of glass bottles. They also had a beautiful mural depicting a map of the world, so we helped paint on the names of many of the countries. As with our eco-bricks project, the activities were part of an attempt to share with them the importance of protecting their environment through the conservation of trash. We also played a game of US v. Paraguay soccer (we did get one goal…)
After that we walked down to a building where the El Comite de Mujeres (the Women’s Committee) meets. It’s inspiring to see a group of strong, empowered women come together, even in a place where the rights of women are perhaps not as emphasized as in the United States. They cooked us a beautiful chicken lunch, and then taught us how to make chipa, a local staple somewhat like a roll but with cheese and anise. Each of us took turns rolling it out—apparently a skill girls need to get married. Then we walked it over to the house of one of the women who showed us the outdoor brick & mud oven that she’d built in her backyard. Afterwards, we ate the fresh chipa as Sonija did a demonstration for us of the skills she’d learned as a midwife in Mexico. We heard stories of the women’s experiences, and how almost all of the women had given birth alone (without the support of their husbands). The evening ended with dinner and watching soccer and a telenovela (soap opera) with my family.
Julia O., Edmund Burke School