Keily and I have spent the past two mornings in Arada Vieja conducting more interviews. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will have completed six or seven. Because it’s a two hour walk to the community and Keily and I only have the mornings to work together, it’s difficult to get more than a couple of interviews squeezed in! The good news is that a) the rest of the communities are quite a bit closer and b) in Arada Vieja there are only 22 households – so we’re getting a pretty decent sample there anyways.
So far the interviews have been going very well and have each lasted over an hour. We’re getting lots of good information and folks are really kind and appreciative of the interest.
Some Main Issues
There are a number of issues that have come up repeatedly in interviews so far. They include…
The Road ~ There are serious limitations to the ability of people to travel in and out of the community because of the poor quality of the road. Among other things, tourism initiatives are impeded, there’s no bus service, and there’s no garbage collection as in the town centre.
Energy ~ A few years ago, a solar energy project was initiated in the community. Five or six homes are using the system now, but the cost of batteries and upkeep is still prohibitive for others. Those without access use candles and gas for lighting ~ these methods not only have a high cost in the long term but also cause problems in terms of health and risk of fire.
Water ~ There is a communal water source where all of the families go to fill their containers with water to bring back to their homes. There isn’t enough to irrigate gardens and so the community garden that I visited last year is no longer in use. They had a pump that they tried to use to pump up water from the nearby river but its capacity wasn’t sufficient for the 200m elevation. They’re using it instead to pump water into a new swimming pool they have by the restaurant for the few tourists who visit.
School ~ There is no official school in the community. What they have right now is a community center where one teacher, sponsored by an NGO, comes to teach from kindergarten to grade 9 . The local priest and some other donors help with desks, books, etc. but they’re still under supplied. There are around 30 students in the school and only a few leave to go to high school in the town.
Health Clinic ~ There is no health clinic in the community either. A doctor comes about once a month and sees patients in the restaurant. To get to the clinic in town, it’s either a two hour walk or a call for a microbus to come to pick them up. The microbus costs $5 each way – VERY expensive for one individual.
At the community meeting on Friday we have various activities planned in order to try to prioritize the various needs as a group, to explore their causes and to brainstorm some possible solutions. We’re expecting about 25 people (plus the kiddies!) so hopefully will get some good dialogue out of it!