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Creating Friends for the Environment

By Jesús Aguado

Young students from 26 public and private schools have learned that animals are for company of human beings. They also understand that the lungs of life—the trees—are their friends. Now they know more about the marvels of nature and, with the help of FAI (Foundation for Children’s Support), they have learned how to take care of the environment.

Atención made visits to three schools appointed by Amigas de la Naturaleza (Friends of Nature), where the programs of FAI have supported them to recycle up to one ton of paper in 2016. They have also saved 12 thousand liters of water, thanks to the harvest of rainwater that has now helped to create 796 square meters of green area.

PEASMA

Ana Lilia Bautista, who has worked for FAI for 12 years since the program was launched, told Atención that the most exciting part of working with children and young people is their energy, innocence, interest, and curiosity to understand the world that surrounds them. Bautista also commented that there is a dynamic for the students called “El Jarrón.” A jar is painted by all the members of a team. They take care of it—representing the world—but suddenly it breaks. The members of the team have to fix it. What they have to understand, said Bautista, is that even if the jar—world—is restored, it will never be the same, and it will always have fissures.

Through the Program of Environmental Education (PEASMA), children, adolescents, parents, and teachers are trained to be Guardians of the Environment. To make this project possible, the students are divided into teams, and later a task is assigned to them. Some of the students are also appointed as guardians of paper, water, plants, animals, and recycling. The most important thing, says Ana Bautista, is that the students learn good habits that they can replicate at home or vice versa. For example, she said, the guardians of water have to watch over the correct use of water at school as well as at home. They also have to supervise the pipes and water system to detect leaks and fix them. The Guardians of Animals are trained to identify the types of animals that inhabit the school grounds. Later, they protect those that bring benefits to the environment and control the reproduction of those with harmful effects.

This year, the program has enrolled 126 public and private educational centers, 112 of them in the urban area and the rest in rural communities. That is how more than 6,000 children have been trained, as well as 200 teachers and 500 parents.

Soasnabar

A rural community situated on the road to Jalpa, Soasnabar was recorded by CONEVAL (National Council for the Evaluation of Public Policies) as a zone of high poverty. Regardless of the “poverty,” the parents know how to work together. The community works with several nonprofit organizations that improve their lives. Soasnabar has a primary school with 175 students directed by teacher Susana Zúñiga.

When Atención arrived in the community, we saw children working in small groups. On one side of the school, there were students in a workshop learning how to plant an orchard and harvest tubers and vegetables. They also learned how to protect their vegetables with other aromatic herbs like rue. “The rue helps to exterminate lice,” said one of the students. Also, according to the trainer of Guardians of the Environment, the plant helps to keep harmful insects away from the vegetables. At the end of the workshop, the students planted a radish seed beside a cilantro seed. When the plant sprouts, they will have to transplant it.

On the other side, in a space prepared to be a nursery, other students learned how far they have to dig to plant a seed, a tree, or a plant. A group of three students, Stephaney, Saul, and Zeferino, approached us, wanting us to know how they make compost.

They also have an orchard with fruit trees at the school. There, the three students dug a hole which had to be filled with leftover food. A layer of leaves and the extracted dirt are added. When the compost is ready, it is strained and added to the plants or used to plant new trees or vegetables.

At the school we also ran into three mothers, Micaela Olvera, Angélica Pérez, and María Pérez, who were leaving a workshop. They evaluated the programs of the FAI as excellent and commented that even if the trash collectors mix all the trash in the carts, they know that, in the end, the food leftovers will be separated, and the world will be healthier.

Providencia de Soasnabar

The school most recently added to the organization’s program is Naciones Unidas, located in Providencia de Soasnabar. There, 75 students are enrolled, and they are receiving training on recycling.

Two mothers, Clara and Remedios, were preparing the students’ lunches in the school kitchen. They left their labors and took us on a tour of the school. They talked about the rainfall harvesting tank which was donated by FAI. The water, they said, is drinkable if they boil it and strain it, but most importantly, they use it for washing the plates. The water, after washing the kitchen utensils, is not wasted. Happily, they showed their recycling system. The water ends up at the space that is being prepared for an orchard.

Jean Piaget

This school is on the Libramiento Manuel Zavala. It is a total friend of nature because, according to its principal, Alejandra Palacios, it was constructed with that idea. The gardens are watered with water from rainfall that is stored in a cistern. It lasts the entire year. That is why, 10 years ago when FAI wanted to work with them, they immediately said “yes.” Palacios said that the organization’s programs match with the subjects of the Secretariat of Education. They are well designed and very entertaining. She noted that the students now know how to separate trash, how to take care of the ecology, and how to collect plastic from their homes. Later, the plastic is handed over to a company that exchanges it for balls or other school materials.

Palacios remembered that years ago they started the organic orchard, training students to plant carrots, radishes, and lettuce. “They were very happy when they harvested them. Here at school they made salad and took other vegetables home.” She invited us to stroll through the school. In a classroom, kindergarteners explained to us how they separate trash.

The Fundación de Apoyo Infantil is a nonprofit organization that works for constructing a world where children can practice their rights. They help children to participate and contribute to the development of the community and to have a sustainable and healthy environment, socially just and economically possible, focusing their energy on the water resource. For more information, go to www.faiguanajuato.org or call 152 3686.

 

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