Indigenous Students Gather to Build their own School out of Plastic

On November 12, 2012, approximately 100 children and parents from the primary school of the Shipibo community of San Francisco gathered together for a “gran minga” (community work day) to start the building of a new schoolroom using “eco-bricks”, made from 3 years-worth of waste materials collected in the community. The new schoolroom is needed to replace the existing schoolhouse, which is unfit for student learning.

Eco-bricks, plastic bottles filled with plastic waste, offer a low-cost solution for construction needs, using resources already found within the community – plastic and other non-organic waste – that offers an ecological alternative for waste, eliminating the need to burn or bury.

Alianza Arkana has worked in the native communities of Dinamarca and Nueva Ahuaypa on smaller eco-brick constructions, and now using a model found in Guatemala, where they have already built 22 school houses out of eco-bricks, we are working with San Francisco to replace their pre-school.

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San Francisco has had a functioning waste management program since 2008, and is one of the 16 Shipibo communities with which Alianza Arkana currently works. Based on yesterday’s outcome, their dream of creating a new schoolhouse from waste materials is set to be turned into reality. By the end of the working day, students and parents had completed 530 eco-bricks, that amount, in combination with eco-bricks that have already been created, makes them 1/3 of the way from reaching their goal! (It is estimated that 3,000 eco-bricks are needed for the construction of a schoolhouse).

“We had an excellent turnout. Community members are taking a pro-active approach to dealing with waste problems. Today, working together, we’re showing how problems can be turned into solutions,” said Brian Best, Director of Community Based Solutions of Alianza Arkana. Reporters from two popular local news networks were also there to document the progress.

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 13 November 2012

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