We woke up to a chilly, misty Andean morning to begin our first full day of research in the communities. We left Cariamanga for Chaquizca, where we arrived at the school and then split into our different groups to do our designated activities. Lily conducted her activity at the school for her project on local stories. She had all thirty students illustrate responses to the stories that they had compiled the year before as they split into groups and collaborated with each other, using crayons and colored pencils to draw their responses to stories such as La paloma llora and El conejo y el zorro. Lily talked to the teachers who had positive responses to the concept of involving local stories in the curriculum for it inspires critical thinking and pride in their communities.
Claudia, Ing. Darwin and I visited two houses in Chaquizca that had consistently tested negative for the presence of Chagas vectors to see if there are common characteristics to their houses that inhibits the vectors from having a presence in their houses. Our first visit was with a man who lived next to the school named Don Alberto. He seemed very aware of the need to prevent against Chagas disease as he fumigates his house regularly and cleans it daily. We then went in the truck to a community on the edge of Chaquizca going back towards the highway. There we met Don José and his family, who were in the process of making a dulce block locally called panela, which is made out of sugar cane that he grows on his property. The process seemed similar to making maple syrup, a large fire is made below large trays where the liquid caña juice is placed in order for it to condense. When it is sufficiently thick, the liquid is placed in block molds to cool. Don José said that the blocks, along with other crops that he cultivates are taken to the ferías libres held in Cariamanga on Sundays. Don José and his family were also very aware of the need to prevent the presence of vectors in their household, claiming that they fumigate the house regularly, keep animals outside of the house and go to the doctor or other place to be taken care of when they feel sick.
Miks, Guillermo and Susan went to the house of Don Fernando, a large landholder in the community of Chaquizca. They went on a long drive through the land and met up with him in an orange grove on his property. According to Miks, they ate the best oranges that photosynthesis has ever produced they talked about his impressions of the community and the project. He emphasized that education was important for the community and also that he was interested in giving legal status to the farmers who lived on his land.
Written by Coner Tong
Photo by Susan Pomar Queirolo