After two months of settling in to life in Zacongo, Bruce and I have started to do some “work.” As part of our “settling in” we spent a lot of time talking to people in the community and seeing what their interests were. A lot of people talked about a keen interest in learning English and many people talked about education in general. There is no high school here in Zacongo and if people want their children to attend school past grade six they have to send them to Olinala. Although Olinala is only about a 10 minute drive from here, many families cannot afford to send their children to school past grade six.
Prior to leaving for the MCC retreat in Nicaragua in January Bruce and I spoke at a community meeting, asking people if they would be interested in classes for adults and youth. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from the community. During this meeting we posed the question of where the community would like the classes to be held (building wise). There were some suggestions but no decisions were made. We then left for Nicaragua and came back 2 weeks later to find a group a 20 or so people working to convert an old church building into a classroom. It was beautiful to see everyone working together and the aura of excitement that accompanied the process of getting the classroom ready. Bruce and I always talk about how ironic it is that we’re supposed to be here doing “community development” work but it’s the community that’s showing us how to do community development.
So, on January 19 I began teaching English to three very eager groups of students: one group of youth, one group of young adults, and one group of adults. Later on that week Bruce offered his first workshop in a series of workshops involving water science. Bruce hopes to offer this water workshop in other communities if it works well here in Zacongo. More on our work later.