Not Goodbye, See You Later.

Not Goodbye, See You Later.

Goodbyes are sometimes hard, and yet, necessary. Tampa is home to many people and places that are important to me but I could not be more excited to embark on this adventure. Working with TECHO in Cuenca will serve as a great opportunity to not only shed light on an organization that helps shelter the people of its country, but also promotes youth volunteerism, an underutilized service in Latin American countries. It is this volunteerism that serves as the foundation for which TECHO provides a roof for its country.

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Oil exploration

As my excitement for our departure continues to build, I happen to receive an email from the Sierra Club urging me to sign a petition…

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I think this coincidental email can serve to remind us — especially as we embark on a documentary-making experience — that all problems that we may become aware of have existed long before we gained awareness.  We must educate ourselves about existing initiatives in order to understand how various organizations are attempting to solve problems using different approaches.  This can help us to understand and document the unique approach of a particular changemaker.

Last Night in the U.S

As I am writing the first of many blog posts, my father is watching the Heat game, my mother is playing Candy Crush on her phone, and I am struggling to type on this tablet my father gave me. It’s not hard, it’s just going to take some getting used to…like being in Ecuador for an entire month! I am super excited because I have never visited outside the United States (except for Puerto Rico, but that doesn’t count since it is a territory) or made a documentary before! Although traveling sometimes stresses me out (I have a habit of forgetting to pack stuff…I was not too bad this time), I cannot wait for this experience! The hardest thing I will have to do tomorrow is not only say goodbye to my family, friends, and boyfriend, but also get up at 5 in the morning. It will all be worth it. Besides, I can always sleep on the plane.

TECHO

TECHO

One of the production teams will make a documentary about TECHO in Cuenca, an organization began building houses in impoverished Chilean communities in 1997. Two great challenges presented themselves over time – firstly, that building houses was not enough to build up a community. Secondly, that for college age locals in the areas where TECHO works, volunteering as an act to spit on – worse than playing video games at home is giving your time away for free. It would be better to waste it on self indulgence than give it away to others.

Over time TECHO has developed more and more programs to aid communities as a whole – helping locals with loans, helping them establish micro-enterprises within their community, teaching classes on how to use a bank account, and more. All aiming to build a community up to where they can support themselves, and still beginning with building houses. As Un Techo Para Mi Pais became more of a community-focused organization they rebranded themselves Techo.

For the second problem – convincing college age locals to volunteer, TECHO has had great success where other organizations have failed. Across Latin America this organization has successfully pulled together local university students and others to build houses, help communities and run local TECHO offices.In Cuenca it will be your task to produce a documentary that explores why it is worth volunteering; why TECHO volunteers do what they do.

For more information on TECHO visit http://www.techo.org/paises/ecuador/ and to watch “Un Techo Para Meyling,” a short documentary about TECHO building houses in Nicaragua, visit http://vimeo.com/49410715
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/TECHOecuador

Fundación Cordillera Tropical

Fundación Cordillera Tropical

On of the non-profits we’ll be focusing on is Fundación Cordillera Tropical (FCT). They work in southern Ecuador to preserve local biodiversity and water resources. In a country where the government has been known to abuse nature as well as embrace it, the greater difficulty is working with the private landowners who posess the title to almost half of the lands and resources the Foundation looks to protect.

Working with the indigenous and other communities in the Nudo del Azuay area and in the Sangay National Park, the Foundation has multiple programs to work towards their goal. One of the most ingeneous efforts is a mix between compensating the private landholders directly while educating them on the trade-offs of preserving the land, animals and water in the area. The path of the water can be followed all the way back to the cups of locals in Cuenca itself, one reason that water preservation is so important.

The Foundation also supports scientific research, environmental education in urban and rural schools, and programs to get more locals involved, such as a training program that creates guards who protect the borders of Sangay National Park, educate visitors, and assist visiting scientists.

While most of the program will be spent in Cuenca, at least two short trips will be made to visit an indigenous community in the rural parts of the Nudo del Azuay where you will focus your filming efforts. Connecting the rural to the urban will be a key component of your story.

For more information visit – http://www.cordilleratropical.org/en

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fundaci%C3%B3n-Cordillera-Tropical/166025100123028

Social Justice Communication Student Blog