FAI partners with environmental organizations
By Alexa Fullerton and Sylvia van Dijk
FAI (the Fundación de Apoyo Infantil, Guanajuato, AC) is celebrating 20 years working with the children of our state in accordance with the International Convention of the Rights of the Child (United Nations 1990). FAI is a Children’s Rights (Human Rights) organization.
In the late 90s Susan Smith, then president of Audubon of Mexico and later president of Save the Laja, Inc., had the great idea to invite the American Forestry Service to train all local environmental organizations in riverbed rehabilitation and non-damaging sand and gravel extraction from riverbanks. Susan was able to negotiate the support of the US Forestry Service for 10 years. FAI participated in these trainings with Bill Zeedijk, whereby villagers from children to grandparents carried rocks, one by one, back to the riverbed making “stairs” to slow down the moving waters and retain the sand in many small arroyos. Audubon decided to take advantage of the trust that FAI had built up in so many rural communities. They supported FAI by paying the salaries of two instructors to teach simple rehabilitation techniques to 500 villagers in 19 communities living along the Rio Laja, eventually rebuilding 22 kilometers of riverbed during a three- year time period.
Next the big sand extracting companies of Dolores Hidalgo were trained by US experts on how to safely harvest sand, leaving curves in the riverbed and planting cottonwood trees in indicated areas. Bill Zeedijk from the US Forestry Service, Ruth Peacock of Audubon of Mexico and Luis Carlos de la Mora of FAI wrote and published two handbooks which were written in English and in Spanish to make this knowledge available in all river communities. FAI and Save the Laja, the new organization founded by Susan Smith, made educational material for children and farmers in a five- video series titled “Los Cuentos De Celeste” (The stories of Celeste) which is the life story of a drop of water. Through storytelling the residents of rural communities are made aware of the watershed of the Rio Laja as well as simple ways of water management that can be done at the community level. Working together is working smarter, creating a better future for the children of Guanajuato.
For more information go to our webpage: www.faiguanajuato.org or facebook: FAI.GTO, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 415.152-3686, Hidalgo 13, San Miguel de Allende, 37700, Guanajuato, Mexico, bank account number 7992805, branch office 483, Banamex.