Today was hard simply because we are hitting a sort of wall as far as parents coming to work on the building the classroom. Only one person came and last Saturday only one person came as well. Peace Corps El Salvador is also going through a hard time and everyone is really stressed out. It´s also the time of the year when everyone is cutting maisillo which is what they use to feed chickens and pigs here. It looks like little, white pin heads if you have ever sewn before. If you grind it up you can make amazing flour for cookies that my host mom makes that are pretty good for breakfast. I think as soon as the kids start school the parents will also start showing up in droves. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Everything will get better because once you hit rock bottom there is only up to go. At least we are still on or ahead of schedule. We are putting up the wood for the molds for the upper half of all the columns and should have them done tomorrow. Then the only thing left is to make the upper horizontal columns and then put in the bottles and put the roof up!
Tomorrow I have a meeting at the Agriculture University called La ENA to talk about another Bottle School project – they want to build a classroom for a vocational training center. So I will let you all know what comes from that meeting with them.
At least once school starts I can get the kids to fill bottles with me during their recess time.
Some ideas that I have if parents don’t come to help fill bottles or come to work: make a ton of party invites and make a work slash party day for everyone to come to. This way people can see all the progress we have made and how much there still is left to do. During the party, which doesn’t cost too much to put on, you can make speeches about the importance of collaboration and remind everyone when their work days are.
I am also going to make a huge poster to put up at the school which shows everyone who should be coming which dates to work and who has actually come to have more transparency and accountability. People are a lot more likely to come to work if they know everyone is watching to see whether or not they show up.
A suggestion for anyone wanting to replicate this project in other communities or countries: Always make sure you have a good, reliable source for water. This may seem like a no brainer but in a community like mine where we get all our water for our work from a single faucet (or from the river) this is something that we always need to keep in mind. For the past one and half work days we were without water and had to haul water from the river which luckily is pretty close by. But now we know that we always need to make sure that we have a large trash can or some receptacle full of water in case the water gets shut off due to a broken pipe, etc. For those of you who are wondering why would we need water: you use a lot of water to make cement but even more importantly (maybe) you need to water down the cement that you already have hardened because if you don’t water it every day it will crack and you will have ruined all the work you have done up to that point.