Children, staff and volunteers at Globalteer’s Peru Community Project recently took part in a week-long initiative which focused on the importance of taking care of the natural environment and on what each of us can do to protect our fragile planet.
The week of activities included lessons for all the children about the impact of litter, an educational “environmental walk” around the village, and a litter-picking day when everyone quite literally mucked in to clean up the streets of Oropesa, the village near Cusco where Globalteer’s community project, Picaflor House is located.
Teaching about the environment
In class, Sarah, Globalteer’s volunteer coordinator and environmental specialist, made flash cards showing the effects of litter and pollution: a turtle with a plastic six-pack ring around it that had stunted the growth of its shell, chemicals leaking into a river, and for comparison, cards that showed healthy environments. Children were then asked to identify which images depicted things which were good or bad for the environment, and why.
Teacher Luis took the children on a short walk outside the gates of Picaflor to the Huatanay River which runs through the village and explained how it had become so polluted. He also introduced the children to the concept of the three R's - Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle – and encouraged them to think of their own solutions to environmental issues by asking questions like, “What are some of the things you can do with old clothes instead of throwing them away?”
The teachers then designed signs with environmental slogans and the children decorated them. On the final day of environment week we took to the streets of Oropesa picking up litter, with the children proudly displaying the signs to get their message across to the villagers.
They got really excited about picking up litter and were competing with each other to see who could collect the most. That day was also the beginning of an important festival in Oropesa, so it was an opportune moment for the “rubbish parade” as there were a lot more people out and about who saw Picaflor’s House’s environmental message.
Environmental awreness in Peru
Concern for the environment is still not particularly important to the average Peruvian. You will occasionally see signs about protecting green spaces and urging people not to litter, but far more common sights are piles of rubbish on the side of the road taht have been devoured by animals, and rivers clogged with plastic garbage. Additionally, while the main roads in Oropesa are cleared by the municipality, the unpaved roads are often full of discarded items. Picaflor House is located very near the Huatanay River, which flows through the town, and it is quite common to see people throwing their rubbish into it.
At Globalteer, we believe that by educating children we can make positive, long term changes in society, and this environmental initiative is just a small part of how we try to make a difference to our community in Peru.
If you would like to help us to make a difference in Peru then please visit our Volunteeer Peru Community Project pages to find out what you can do to help.