Click to enlarge the photos and then back-return (top-left arrow) to get back to the news
Our oyentes and first graders at Muenala celebrating the planting of the school huerta (veg patch) this week, with the added bonus of our own homegrown compost thanks to Andy! This will complement the healthy spinach, chard and peas coming from Plan Iron Woman and of course our school nutrition program. Small but substantial steps forward for Phoenix here in Ecuador. Look forward to seeing (& tasting?) the results. A huge thanks to all that have helped along the way!
In Muenala Plan Ironwoman crops are still coming in at school; the mums have organised a rotation and one of them brings in acelga, spinach, green onions, cilantro, etc. every week for the school soup. Very impressive Muenala colegio student’s first quimestre results.
In school we are working pretty hard to stay on schedule with the curriculum, the 4th block ends in a few weeks and then the 5th block is supposed to be a review of the previous 4 blocks, and then its final exams at the start of June. Larcacunga colegio tutoring continues every tuesday after school.
True to the Ecuadorian tradition we have been celebrating Semana Santa at each of the schools with Fanesca, a soup made of 12 different pulses & beans (representing the 12 apostles of Jesus), eggs, milk, cheese, gourd, pumpkin, tomato, avocado, bread dumplings and salt cod. Thanks mostly to our mums & with a little help from us and the kids we cooked up a storm and the kids, mums and dads all enjoyed at least 2 helpings of this nutritious meal! Mishki mishki o gushta gushta according to the kids – yummy!!!!
One year on and we are starting to see the results of the project “Plan Ironwoman” we implemented last year. Thanks to the mums and their gardens we now have spinach, cabbage, cilantro and cebollas largas in excess which are being sent straight to school for the children’s lunches. Next up will be the arvejas verdes (greens peas) & the extension of our project, thanks to the sale of cebollas largas in Otavalo, – broccoli and carrots! Each week one mum brings down the extra ingredients to add to our soup and seco. Cut yourself a cabbage (or spinach) guys, – our first step towards sustaining the kids school lunches up at school & from within the community!!
March 8th was International Day of the Woman, and in the Larcacunga community, Ecuador, we celebrated with the kids by making cards for all the girls and Señorita Lucilla – lots of fun seeing the boys squirming as they had to give the girls cards and a big hug. It’s great to see such an important day being taken seriously, and to educate the kids on the struggle for equality and respect for all women around the world.
Last week, the Larcacunga community in Ecuador enjoyed a field trip to the 4 lakes in this area, to compare the differences between them and their natural life as part of their curriculum on understanding and caring for nature – and to have some fun of course! The Phoenix Projects helped pay for the transport costs, and it was wonderful to see every child in the school, plus the mums and all the babies, having such a great day out at lagunas Mojanda, Cuicocha, San Pablo, finishing with a boat ride in Yahuarcocha.
This was the first time many of the kids (and their mums, for that matter!) had been on a boat, and their simple glee was incredible to see – really special, to be honest, especially combined with the increased confidence of the older grades on water, as we have been providing swimming lessons to them this academic year.
It has been busy up at Muenala! We had the first “minga” of the semester (community project). Each student brought in their own ornamental flower to plant along the entrance of the school and in recycled pots along the pasillos. In an effort to bring even more wildlife to the school, they constructed a bird sanctuary where they hung the bird houses and feeders they had made during manualidades (craft lesson). We’ve started making our own abono (fertilizer) to be used in a future vegetable garden at the school. Very tiring indeed, but great to see the children get so excited and motivated to better their own community. For more photos, click here.
On Friday 1st February and Saturday 2nd February, all 3 communities of the Phoenix Projects Ecuador came together to celebrate the traditional Kichwa wedding of Zoe and Alan. Zoe was adopted by Muenela, and Alan by Larcacunga and Huayrapungo. On Friday, Alan and his best man (or “Achti-Taita” in Kichwa) Jim, Alan’s mum, and the Huayrapungans went shopping in the markets before dawn to buy a dowry of 32 guinea pigs, 28 chickens, 1200 bananas and a white rabbit, amongst others. They then spent the day transporting it all to Huayrapungo and searching for musicians before arriving in Huay to dance and search for the novia, Zoe. During this time, Zoe and the Muenalan mums and dads with Andy, were preparing the Casa Comunal for the occasion. This included slaughtering an entire bull and then hiding Zoe with her family (including the UK branch!) in the Casa Comunal. It was a long wait of 4 hours before Alan arrived near midnight with musicians and the dowry, the Huayrapungan and Larcacunga families and all the kids and of course the white rabbit as a wedding gift. Then came the wedding itself, with Don Guuitarra officiating, the exchanging of vows and rings at midnight, and of course, dancing till 2am!!!
Saturday started early, with around 200 people arriving at the Phoenix base in Otavalo to visit the newly weds. The Larc mums brought coffee and homemade bread for Zoe and Als, and then the dads came into the bedroom with brooms of eucalyptus branches to sweep out any bad spirits. Then, everyone left in a convoy of buses, pickups and Jaime’s school bus to head up to Muenala, beeping horns all the way! There, Zoe and Als and the families participated in Navi Mayllay, a Kichwa cleansing ceremonies involving washing the hands, arms and face with water and rose petals and stinging nettles. Then, speeches, food and of course more dancing until the early hours!
It was an incredible 2 days in true Kickwa style with lots of preparations within the communities to bring it all together. Seeing how all 3 communities came together to celebrate, working together and having fun together, was simply amazing – and seeing how excited all of the children were, and how much fun they had, was the icing on the wedding cake. For more fotos, click here! Congratulations you two, truly well-deserved!
After the Christmas nativity fun and games January has been a hard working month for all. At school we have been busy preparing for end of the first Quimestre exams across all grades. From psychadelic fish to Jack in the Boxs in manualidades, PE drills and football matches up at the stadium in Muenala, a maths competition between Larcacunga, and 5 other schools where we came 3rd place to some hardcore reading and writing the kids will be in much need of their two week break at the end of this month.
We are also really pleased to welcome in a new team mate Christy, who has taken our kindergarten class at Muenala by storm and with three new gua gua’s (including Aurelio and Rosas niece, Rumiñahuis little brother and a relative of Aini’s!) making it her class a total of 6.
From a sustainable project perspective, Zoe took a tour around all of our Plan Iron Woman huertas with Doña Olga to admire the spinach, green peas and cebollas largas. After delays with the dry season we will ready to harvest our goods mid February onwards. We have also planted broccolli, chard, carrots and cabbage to be used as part of the kids nutrition programme. Keep an eye out for our update in February for the latest on Plan Moo, Plan Cuy and our first plans for Plan Papas
To end a successful Summer School at the end of August 2012, all 3 communities here in Ecuador got together at Larcacunga to enjoy a day of athletics, football and volleyball in true Olympic style! And what a day it turned to be!
At 8am our teams of athletes from Larcacunga, Huarapungo and Muenala paraded proudly around the playground with their school flags to start the opening ceremony. This was complemented with the Ecuadorian National Anthem, the election of the Games ‘Madrina’ (Adriana from Larcacunga) a full rendition of the schools national anthems (to the tunes of ‘Mi Niña Bonita’, ‘Dan Saco Duro’ & Ai Se Eu Te Pego’) that the students had been practicing all summer and the swearing in of the athletes to the Games values.
Then followed the athletics; the long jump, hurdles, relay, shot put and the 100m sprint! Check out the photos to see all the fun and action including the parents. After a quick lunch of habas (broad beans), potatoes & rice, the team sports were up, volleyball and football. Larcacunga lead the football with Huayrapungo storming the volleyball!
The day was finished of with the award of medals and sporting prizes to the winning athletes and communities. Winners were as follows:
1st place Larcacunga
2nd place Muenala
Category: High School / Colegio
1st place: Muenala
2nd place: Huayrapungo
3rd place: Larcacunga
Category: Padres de Familia
1st place: Larcacunga
2nd place: Huayrapungo
3rd place: Muenala
Everyone was indeed a winner. The big win for me of the day however was seeing the communities come together and the pride in the kids faces as they showed off all their hard work from summer and enthusiasm in which everyone participated. A fantastic day and a great way to end Summer School! All of this would not have been possible without the help and support of a great volunteer team – Thank you guys as ever!!!