Yesterday we held an Agriculture project in the library to pick up trash in the community and learn about why we shouldn’t litter. I have been amazed since coming here at the amount of garbage you see lying around, and the amount of people who will throw trash in the street without a second thought. Ecuador is a beautiful country with a wealth of natural resources, but a lot of people don’t seem to realize or care about the damage they are doing by not recycling and by throwing trash everywhere. Our hopes with projects like these are that some of our library kids will grow up with an environmental consciousness, that they themselves won’t contribute to the contamination, and that little by little the mentality will start to change.
The project turned out great, the kids in the library were actually counting down the minutes until we went to pick up trash! This was obviously helped out by the incentive of dessert for everyone after the cleanup (the Summer Vols made dirt cake), but the kids were genuinely into it. Issac came running down the stairs, trash bag in hand and gloves on yelling “vamos a ayudar el medio ambiente!” (we are going to help the environment!) The kids teamed up and ran around the street in front of the library and the cancha picking up all the trash they could find. We set up a table in front of the centro with a lovely poster made by one of the kids, William, and caught the attention of some people walking by. Multiple people stopped Nicole and I on the street to say it was a beautiful thing we were doing.
After we had been out there for about an hour picking up trash we called all the kids back to the table. Two kids who had strayed to the other side of the cancha had to be called multiple times before they finally stopped picking up trash. “But Profe, there’s more trash over there,” they told us… we actually had to make them stop so we could have our discussion. We asked the kids why there was trash everywhere, and why we were cleaning it up. They had great answers for us, and they all promised never to litter. We asked them what they could do if they saw other people littering, and the youngest kid, 5 years old, insisted that he would shout “que asco!” (gross!). Satisfied with the outcome, we handed out dirt cake, convinced the kids that it wasn’t actually dirt, and watched them fight over the gummy worms that were buried inside.
I know that we aren’t changing the world here, but I feel good knowing that these kids at least have an awareness of the environment and how important it is to take care of it. We can only hope that in generations to come the rest of the world starts to catch on.