July 1st marked the arrival of a new group called Global Sustainability Project. All linked as UCLA alum, the group brought with them ideas and projects to work on development in our community in San Luis Talpa. The week was much different than our usual teams, since for the most part the group planned it out themselves.
The first day we had a meeting and our staff was able to discuss and learn of the ideas that GSP had for the week that lay ahead. They brought ideas for projects in many areas, some of which fit with what HFTH had already been looking into, and some new and innovative ideas. The purpose of this trip was to be a research opportunity, as GSP’s first project of what they hope will turn into many community development projects.
Throughout the week the group gathered information about the community through surveys, meetings, and community gatherings. We were able to have some insightful conversations with community members who brought up issues, as well as attributes of the community that aren’t easy to see at first glance. Much thought and planning was put into each part of the week, as individual team members focused on different projects.
These projects looked at things like education, employment, agriculture, day care, a community center, a playground and a soccer field. The team was able to get lots of information, learn about the culture and began to gain a general understanding for what implementing these projects would mean.
A few of the days were dedicated to workshops for the community members. One of those workshops focused on goals they have both as an individual, and for their family, community. We were all able to learn about the individuals of the community through this exercise and everyone enjoyed a time of community outside of their normal days.
The kids had their own “meeting” of sorts full of games and fun lead by the kids themselves who were full of ideas. The kids also had a “community talk” where they were able to share their ideas and hopes for what their community would look like. It was a great time of sharing and learning from each other and gave the kids a chance they may not often have to voice their opinions. One day of the week was set aside for arts and crafts for both kids and adults. The adults enjoyed making paper flowers, while the kids worked on bracelets with the help of the team.
Overall the week was a time of talking, asking questions, listening and learning. Before any of these projects can be implemented it is important to get to know the community and their wants, needs, and ability to contribute, so this week served as the first foundation for that knowledge and understanding. Another team from GSP is scheduled to come down August 7th to continue the process of listening, learning and developing side by side with the community