Issue - January 2010

January 2010


Inside this edition: Petra Vissers give interviews Erika Bruzonic; Arnold Brouwer tells us about improvements at the Centro Maria Cristina Nuevo Rostro; A review of Bolivian Cinema; and ending this January edition, Walter Sánchez with Breaking Taboos. read more...

January 2010

Environmental program on children’s homes

Apart from the successful environmental education project on elementary schools where the program “Huertos Educativos Cochabamba”, of the foundation NME Mundial, worked with over 1500 students this year, the program also started working on children’s homes.

Arnold Brouwer
Director of Huertos Educativos Cochabamba
sponsored by the Dutch Foundation NME Mundial

In April this year “Huertos Educativos Cochabamba” started working at Maria Cristina “Nuevo Rostro”, a center for mentally disabled children. A real challenge for the team because it is completely different to working with “normal” children in schools. The goal still is to teach the children how to manage a small city garden, based on urban agricultural principles but at the same time the program is aiming at training the staff members for future garden management and a healthy organic production for the kitchen, while reducing the amount of organic waste by composting.

Working in small groups always having in mind ones abilities for doing a certain chore caused a slow start. But with enthusiastic help from the staff members and the center’s director who made sure that the foundation “Christo Vive” invested money in a good fence for the newly built outside garden, the project made a good start. The old greenhouse got cleaned out, the shade cloth replaced and the team started cultivating tomatoes, Swiss chard, lettuce and other crops. The kitchen waste is used for composting including a 2m x 0,4m composting bin with composting worms bought from the local university.

Since the program works organically the team prepared organic sprays from onion and garlic, calcium and sulfur and an organic foliage fertilizer called BIOL. Organic ways to manage a garden which are starting to pay off. Recently, the center harvested loads of healthy red tomatoes, green lettuces and the Swiss chard is up for a third cut.

However, apart from these agricultural success there is an even bigger success. One of the girls from the center has made huge progress in her personal behavior. A few months ago she used to sleep outside in the burning sun during the entire day not interested in any kind of activity even aggressive at some points hurting herself by an open wound on her hand on which she was impeding the skin to heal. The staff members most of the time let her alone being busy with the other children who require attention as well. One day she saw somebody planting two small rows of onion in the garden that was taking shape more and more every week. It seemed a small and insignificant act but it was going to change her behavior in a very important way.

She told a staff member that the onions reminded her of home and for over a week she watered only the two rows of onion plants every day. After that she started paying attention to the entire garden, watering every single plant every day. A huge task for a small girl but it really makes her happy to work in the garden and by now she even knows the names of all the different crops. The director of Maria Cristina told me that recently she sat next to the girl at lunch time and they had a small conversation where to her great surprise the girl started to tell her about her home situation when she was little, she shared some memories of her mother and grandmother with the director and the director even noticed that the self inflicted wound on her hand is slowly beginning to heal.

It is incredibly rewarding that a simple gardening program can have such therapeutic value causing such a huge change in ones personality. That in some way the daily chore of a vegetable garden can give someone a good reason to be more joyful and more in peace with oneself. I hope that the girl keeps on making such good progress and we are thankful for her dedication to the garden.

The work at Maria Cristina is a pilot project which will run until the end of June 2010. The results of this project caused that in December we started a new program on five more children’s homes. These homes house children from underprivelaged backgrounds. The new project serves two goals; the short term goal in setting up a good garden infrastructure in order to contribute to a healthy diet for the kids by maximizing the harvest of the gardens and a longterm goal to provide more insight and knowledge of the environment and in special maintaining a garden to contribute to a healthy diet. This is an ability that could serve them in their future life outside one of these homes, while at the same time we will be looking for ways to maximize the harvest in order to provide the kitchen with healthy vegetables, setting up a garden which will be there for the years to come.

Trends in Bolivian Cinema

Driving force behind this boom has been called the young director Rodrigo Bellot. Bellot co-runs Bolivia´s first film school, La Fabrica, who´s grads worked on one of his movies, “Quien Mató a la Llamita Blanca”, as part of their thesis. His breakout movie though has been ¨Dependencia Sexual¨, released in 2004, which he wrote, helmed and produced entirely by himself.

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