So our community project is well under way and going great! Tuesday we got the local kids together and after giving a short talk about why mangroves are important, we went together to the local mangrove nursery ground and picked up trash. There was so much plastic and other household trash everywheree in the mangroves, but the kids went full speed ahead to pick up everything. After only 45 min all of our trashbags were full and heavy and it started to rain so we called tapos na (all done). They were all so into picking up the trash that we had to tell them several times that we were done! And they all pitched in to carry the bags to the street to be picked up. The mangroves looked great and ready for the next days's activities: planting!
It has been a rainy couple of days but thankfully the rain held out for our planting day Wednesday! The kids again congregated and we showed them an educational powerpoint and video about the importance of mangroves and how to plant and take care of them... all in Ilonggo of course. They were very excited to start planting!
First we had to carry all of the mangroves to the beach. We had a line of kids and adults carrying mangrove seedlings two at a time to the beach and then back for more. Once we got all of the mangrove seedlings there the real fun began! The adults lined up all of the seedlings and spaced them out and they began digging holes with the two shovels they had. We trainees looked around at each other, then at the two shovels, then to the seedlings lined up in a row, and it didn't take us long to decide what to do. We found a plant and started digging in the mud with our hands. About 10 seconds later every kid on the beach was also digging holes in the muddy substrate and planting mangrove seedlings. In about 30 minutes we had planted over 200 mangrove seedlings in nice rows. It was a beautiful sight!
Tomorrow we are having a celebratory fiesta with all of the kids and adults that helped out with both the mangrove clean-up and planting. Our theme is 'Happy Birthday Mangroves', complete with fried limpias, homemade pizza, and of course, cake! We are putting together a slideshow of pictures from the clean-up and planting and are hoping to instill a sense of pride and ownership of the mangroves so that after we are gone they will continue to be protected and monitored. All-in-all our community project has been a huge success and lots of fun in the process! I look forward to having similar projects once I get to my site.
For now we are enjoying the slightly cooler climate of the rainy season, finishing up our CEP (Coastal Environmental Profile) for the town of Banate, and studying our Ilonggo in preparation for our Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) next week! Wish us luck! Only one more week till counterparts conference and swearing-in!