Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Protected Areas Management

Well, after two weeks of TECH training, I now have a better idea of what being a PAM volunteer actually means. So, here is an idea of what I am going to be doing for the next two years of my life!

Us “PAMers” will be working to care for the Protected Areas of Honduras, which are basically equivalent to National Parks in the United States. No one is allowed to live or do anything in these Protected Areas (except hike). However, some of the areas that have been declared as protected include some small communities living on the outskirts. This area is called the buffer zone, the border of land 2 km or wider that surrounds the Protected Area “nucleus” (although technically it’s all Protected Area).

Since the government just can’t tell these people to pack up and move out, us volunteers go in to help people learn how to live more sustainably. Some projects we may be working on may be trash management, sanitation (of water and hygiene), and conservation. Also, many of the people who live here have crops or live on a farm. So we have been learning a lot about sustainable agricultural practices and income generation. (We actually got to go to a farm the other day but I will write about that later).

From making butterfly nets to A-frames, a lot of the skills we are learning during training have been very simple, fun,and very useful. Last week, we had a current volunteer come and teach us how to make colorful purses and bracelets out of churro (chip or snack) bags, which are found all over the streets. In this volunteer’s site, a woman has actually started selling a whole bunch of jewelry, bags, and wallets made out of the churro bags, generating her own income. Also, we learned how to make goggles and a mask out of pepsi bottles which we can teach to farmers who often use very dangerous pesticides and fungicides without any protection.

Now that I am getting more in-depth training, I have come to realize how perfect the PAM project is for me. I feel like my timing with my application to the Peace Corps and the start of the whole process and everything couldn’t have been more right on. I am becoming more fluent in Spanish as well as learning skills that will allow me to teach communities how they can help themselves to live more in harmony with their land and protect the natural beauty that surrounds them. I’m glad that I have been assigned to a project that I am very passionate about and I am sure that everything I have learned and will learn here will be skills for life. (Even learning how to use a machete! Which actually has been one of the highlights so far.)

1 comment:

Mom said...

Hi Court,
Wow! YOu really are assimilating into the culture; I'm glad you are feeling even more positive and avoiding the temptation of scratching bug bites.
How was your bus/taxi/bus/taxi/bus ride to the farm site today? I hope it's a great learning experience and you enjoy. It's wonderful that PAM is right up your alley; very exciting. I love you, Mom