F2F volunteers Femke Oldham & Matt Freiberg are currently in Colombia on a flex assignment. Here they share some of their experiences so far from their trip:
We are stationed in the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina Islands in the western Caribbean. These islands are Colombian territory; however, they represent a melting pot of Latin American and Caribbean cultures. We are working with the native island community, called the Raizal, who are descendants of African slaves brought over by European settlers about 200 years ago. The primary language of the Raizal is a type of creole, and most people also speak Spanish and Standard English.
|F2F volunteers, Femke Oldham and Matt Freiberg on|
To date, we have completed the first four of our assessments, which include measuring the available catchment areas (rooftops) and taking stock of existing gutters, downspouts, and storage tanks, which range from 50-gallon barrels to 25,000-gallon cement cisterns built underground below the posadas (imagine a flooded basement). So far, our common recommendations are for posada owners to install additional storage tanks, gutters to transfer rainwater to their existing cisterns, or to plumb their existing cisterns to feed their showers and toilets. We are also making more simple recommendations such as installing screens over open water sources to prevent mosquitoes and stronger gutter-downspout connections. We are working on individualized reports for each posada to help the owners incorporate these enhancements and design a system that will meet their specific needs.
|Femke speaks with a posada owner during a rainwater|
We found an abandoned vivero (plant nursery) and learned that it had been actively managed by local Raizal farmers to restore and maintain forested areas along the Peak trails until funding from the local environmental protection agency dried up. We will likely incorporate a plan to revive this nursery into our strategic planning document. More specifically, we are looking into the potential for volunteer maintenance of the nursery or linking with the local secondary school.
|From left to right: Matt Freiberg, Octavio Mow from the|
Providence Foundation, local guide Karen Livingston, and