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The past two weeks have been a weeks of firsts for both myself and Esperanza. For the first time during my year as long-term volunteer I worked with a group of volunteers from Canada. Everyone from the volunteer group (9 students and 2 teachers from Thompson Rivers University) was working with Esperanza for the first time. Thanks to their work and funding from their university, 6 families in Rio Grande now have electricity in their homes, the first time these houses have had electricity.
There are a lot of stories that could be told about this trip. A lot of work went into its planning, and the students and teachers involved passed on some invaluable technical knowledge to the community here and to Esperanza. I think the volunteers will be bringing a lot of stories back to Canada, just as I will be bringing a lot of stories with me back to Seattle, and just as the families here will have a lot of stories to tell long afterwards.
As with anything, this trip was just a part of the bigger story that is Esperanza. Some things were the same; we had opening and closing circles, the families made the lunches, and we enjoyed a traditional last-day fiesta. Several things were different, however, as this is the first time in the 21+ years of Esperanza that we have installed solar panels. There are huge and immediately-apparent implications of this. At the Tijuana Posada we already have a graywater-system, one-minute showers, and a native plant garden. Can you imagine if we had solar panels for lighting as well? Not to mention the potential for all the Esperanza houses on the coast that are still off the grid.
Several of the volunteers have told me that they will write about their experiences in Oaxaca and send their writing to me. When that happens I will share their stories with the rest of the Esperanza community via this blog. Until then, I have made a snapshot of our trip through pictures taken by the volunteers:
*Thanks to Roger Smith, the Canadian volunteer who took all the pictures shown in this blog
The First Part of the Trip in Pictures: