Clean Water for Nicaragua - Student Series 6
Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011
In the morning, the group headed out to Susan's home to go for a small hike up the solar mountain. As soon as we got there Susan further explained the construction projects around her home that Liz briefly went over on Monday. The men were working on constructing a bodega, solar kitchen, and a classroom. Each structure is built using sustainable, local materials and traditional building techniques, with a few modifications. The main difference between traditional structures and the newly built structure is the addition of carvings of beautiful pictures on the exterior.
The men were also finishing building their first, experimental double compost latrine. Each wall was made out of three different materials: straw, bamboo, and chicken wire in order to determine which material works best. The double pit compost latrine was also made aesthetically pleasing with carvings of their national bird and sunset on the walls of the latrine. The community enjoyed this aspect of the latrine and became much more excited, especially the women. It is unfortunate that most of the community still associates sustainability with poverty. For example, the community would love to have flush toilets in their homes, but they do not have the necessary resources to do so. On the other hand, most of us volunteers are trying find ways to improve their sanitation without heading in the direction of water abuse. With the help of aesthetics in these projects that which the community can take part in, slowly this mindset within the people has been changing. Keeping that in mind, we will try to incorporate aesthetics within our design as well.
After we finished touring Susan's home, we then began our hike as Susan explained their reforestation projects. To keep families from using wood as their heat source for cooking, some of the women in the community helped build several solar ovens. Susan had about 4 ovens behind her home and a few of the local women that have worked at the Solar Center have one solar oven at their homes as well. The best thing from our experience with the solar ovens was that they roasted beans of delicious coffee! Whenever we were offered a cup, our answer was always yes!
On our way up to the mountain, we saw that a family was building an additional house behind their home. They had recently finished building a church with steel C sections, adobe bricks, and metal decking for the roof. We were glad to see that this community has the skills to construct simple buildings, which we will keep in mind when creating our own design. After observing their construction in progress, our hike continued up the mountain. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to go up higher into the mountain since we had planned to visit the Mayor’s office in Totogalpa.
Since we had some trouble retrieving elevations with our own GPS, we hoped to gain any information or data that the government had for “El Projecto.” This could include construction drawings, soil properties, and topographic maps. Luckily, at the Mayor’s office, Susan was able to obtain electronic files of the housing plans of “El Projecto” onto her flash drive and later email to us. After we finished up our meeting in Totogalpa, sunset was approaching, so we all rushed back home to avoid walking through the darkness.