Three FRB work learning groups recently returned from Guatemala and Nicaragua. These intergenerational groups went deeper in our learning about FRB as we spent more time in each local community than happens in a regular FRB visit. We supported people in work they were doing for their own communities.
McPherson College provost and students worked with FRB staff, a board member and growing project volunteers to build brick ovens with the Nueva Jerusalen land bank in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. There we learned “Not to chew our fingernails because the mortar for the brick ovens we built consisted of one scoop of horse manure for every two scoops of dirt and we had to mix it with our hands.”
In Nebaj, Guatemala we began with our usual North American eagerness to “do” but by day three understood the value of beginning each morning leaning about the culture, values and work we would be doing. “Our ‘go to’ attitude quickly had a reality check as our bodies couldn’t last long doing the hard work involved in building a greenhouse” and “Who would have thought a machete works best to notch the end of a board?”
In Sibinal, Guatemala working side by side and living with families is a precious memory that will not be forgotten. High school students and leaders who dug potatoes and planted radishes learned an new methodology and have used the “stick method” to make rows for the carrot seeds being planted in the Conrad, IA growing project. “It will make a big difference because we now won’t plant the seeds too deep.”
We went to do, but mostly we learned from the people who endlessly prepared tortillas for us. We laughed at our on inadequacy in this area and celebrated their joy and dignity as they so carefully planting each seedling, dedicating a greenhouse and finishing surface of a new bread oven with the tender care of “polishing fine jewelry”.
Bev Abma, FRB Staff