By Aara Johnson
In May, the Volunteer Action Committee (VAC) had enough money to fund five projects. Unfortunately, one will not happen, so the funds will be returned to the VAC. The VAC sincerely thanks all PCVs and staff for supporting volunteer projects by patronizing the VAC Tienda and purchasing patches and stickers. What follows are descriptions and explanations of how the projects went.
San Jose de Saco
Saco Parque Recicla Beautification Project
Built in 2012, the Parque Recicla was a collaborative project between a Bogotá-based non-profit organization and the people of San Jose de Saco. Today the park is one of Saco’s most central and picturesque public meeting places for community groups throughout the pueblo. Despite the park’s importance, a lack of proper funding means that basic maintenance-related tasks have not been performed and several of its key features have broken down. Most visibly, the park’s signature “SACO PARQUE RECICLA” front entrance sign has slowly deteriorated, resulting in several missing letters, which currently read, “S_CO P_RQ_E R_C_CLA.”
This June I was able to complete successfully a community project by purchasing materials to install a new sign in from of the Parque Saco Recicla. In collaboration with a local community group, I was able to contract a carpenter to cut and construct the three-piece sign. My community counterparts and I used the remaining funds to purchase painting supplies. Over the course of two days we recruited students to help paint and install the new sign. Although the community’s support was vital for the success of this project, it would not have been possible without the funds provided by the VAC mini-grant.
Oíste Poetry Jam
Oíste hosted a Poetry Jam to promote bilingualism through creative expression. Activities included readings by local and foreign writers in both Spanish and English, a live drawing by a local artist, an art gallery and music from a local jazz band. The event was also designed to be a cultural exchange through the variety of its readers and content.
The Poetry Jam was a huge hit made possible with help from the VAC grant. We used the funds to buy markers and paper for the audience art activity, to provide a modest donation to the live artists, to print fliers, and to supply a pretty moleskin notebook for our raffle. Thanks for the assistance!
World Map Project
I planned on painting the world map (with help from students) on one of the walls in my school that’s dedicated to English projects. The map will focus on languages, for example, all English speaking countries painted pink, French speaking in orange, etc.
I got midway through graphing the map; I bought the materials and was able to use them but didn’t actually start the tracing yet before I left.
Documenting and Collaging Everyday Life in La Boquilla
A few months ago, I created a photography/art club at my school for students interested in exploring various themes though the medium of photography. I already had access to several digital cameras, donated by Outside the Lens, and some basic 2D art supplies, but I needed some funds to cover printing costs.
One day, I taught the basics of documentary photography to a group of ten students. The students focused on action shots on the beach and through the streets of La Boquilla, documenting everyday life in the community. I printed a few photos from each student, and the next week, I brought materials for a collage project. The students played with color, shape, pattern and scale, as they made colorful collages that represent their communities. Luckily, we still have some money left to print some more photos for the next project. Eventually, the art teacher and I plan to collaborate with a tourism organization to sell the students’ artwork.