20 Years of FAI-Tierra Blanca workshops in schools

By Alexa Fullerton and Sylvia van Dijk

FAI (Fundación de Apoyo Infantil, Guanajuato, AC) is celebrating 20 years working with children of our state in accordance with the International Convention of the Rights of the Child. FAI is a Children’s Rights (Human Rights) organization.

In the mid 90s by request of the Ministry of Education of Guanajuato and as a means to strengthen the regional plan established by the Otomí Congregation of San Ildefonso (see article of last week), FAI conducted workshops in the classroom on Child Rights with grades four to nine, which, among others, involved awareness of nutrition and taking personal responsibility for what you eat. FAI empowered villagers to respect their traditional diet: corn, beans, squash and other vegetables including many wild greens, amaranth, garbanzos, lentils, herbs like cilantro and oregano and beverages like fruit waters instead of soft drinks.

In the first stage of the efforts in the schools with the children and their parents, FAI worked on nutrition and food security. Among other activities, in order to strengthen relationships between school and parents, FAI organized a recipe exchange where we encouraged the mothers to participate so they would have a multitude of ways to prepare nutritious foods with the resources at hand. In the workshops the children were organized into teams to be guardians of their own health. Among their responsibilities, children encouraged each other to drink less soft drinks, to wash hands before lunch and after going to the toilet, to keep their classroom and schoolyards clean, to separate garbage, and to avoid violence among peers in order to be emotionally healthy.

The second stage of these workshops in the schools involved environmental education: water and soil conservation, how to care for local vegetation and better natural conditions. Cleaning mesquite trees was one of the ways adolescents attending high school could comply with their requirement of social service. The students involved their whole families to help with the work. The result was the “Greening” of Tierra Blanca.

The third stage of the work in schools was animal husbandry. FAI taught about the needs of domestic animals, most importantly the need for water, shade, adequate hygiene, food and shelter. These workshops were accompanied by two community projects to introduce milk goats in the backyard to cover the family’s consumption of milk and cheese.

The fourth stage of school educational projects was riverbed rehabilitation including building small dams and ponds, reforestation and erosion control by terracing. After FAI left, the communities have continued this work. For more information go to our webpage: www.faiguanajuato.org.mx or Facebook: FAI.GTO, e-mail: info@faiguanajuato.org, tel: 415.152-3686, Hidalgo 13, San Miguel de Allende, 37700, Guanajuato, Mexico, bank account number 7992805, branch office 483, Banamex.

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