In a previous Blog entry I talked about the idea of the "Land of Opportunity," and the fact that almost 50% of the Paraguayan population lives outside of Paraguay in search of more opportunities. There is so much beauty and opportunity here though, and it is a shame that there is such a limited amount of outlets. Just as my summer camp was wraping up, and I was beginning to worry about what project(s) I would be able to work on next, the sky openned up and all sorts of possibilities began to rain down on my little barrio of Mboi'y.
"Cuidar y Cultivar"
... Care for and cultivate...
For the past 7 months I have been living next to that outlet, and I didn't even know it. Ogaguasu, Guarani for "Old House", was the first house built in Mboi'y. It was built circa 1875, after the Triple Alliance War. Currently, Sr. Carlos Ovando, a 96 year old veteran of the Chaco War, lives there. Sr. Carlos is the father of the owner of my house (who lives and works in Argentina) and my landlord Antonia. Recently, his son Ramon (who lives and works in Asuncion) has been visiting to help care for his father and Ogaguasu. Ramon was impressed with my work with the kids, and apporoached me about doing something on a larger scale for the whole community, possibly using the Ogaguasu. I seriously almost passed out with excitment... it was Christmas, AGAIN, in 25 de Diciembre. I told him that it was dream of mine to have a community center in Mboi'y; a place where we can offer classes and hold events for the entire community.
I cannot believe how quickly things are moving along. This past saturday, Valentine's day, we held out first meeting to share the idea with members of the community, and get feedback and more ideas. Fifteen of my neighbors came to the meeting. Now this might not sound like a lot, but keep in mind this is a small community, and this meeting is being held by a Peace Corps volunteer... 15 people is great. My neighbors loved the idea, and were full of suggestions and ready to offer thier support.
And so, the Ogaguasu was born...
Misión: "Ogaguasu Centro Comunidad es un lugar para la comunidad que apoya cultura y crecimiento por expresión creativa y participación."
..."The Ogaguasu Community Center is a place for the comunindad that supports culture and growth through creative expression and participation."
Of course, this is only the beginning... but what a great start! During the meeting we disscussed what types of things we would like to offer the community. This list was created:
- Basic Art: creative writing, drawing, painting, and photograpgy.
- Artisentia: traditional Paraguayan crafts.
- Health: educaiton courses and alternative cooking classes (using Soy).
- Language: english (that would be me).
- History: museum with photos, artifacts, and writings.
Needless to say, I am very excited for this project. In the near future I will beginning my english class in the beginning of March. I am asking the Mayor and the municipality to pay for paint and materials to paint the Ogaguasu, and fellow guapo volunteers to donate thier time, and love, to paint. Within the next 3 months we hope to have the property ready its ignaguration... I'll keep you informed!