Tuesday, February 20, 2007

SAVING THE WORLD

Once upon a time, in the early 1960s...“¡Junta! ¡Junta! ¡Junta esta tarde!” I'm in El Chilcal, a settlement of fifty houses give or take, just over a half-hour horseback ride from San Pablo, Nariño, my Peace Corps site in the Colombian Andes. Together with Rick Jaspersen, my Peace Corps partner, and Aurelio Muñoz, our Colombian counterpart, we're going house to house, reminding folks there is a community meeting this afternoon. Most people are aware of the get-together and know it will be held in the new one-room schoolhouse, recently built and donated to the community by the National Coffee Federation.

El Chilcal is one of six settlements, or veredas, around San Pablo, where we're helping communities organize themselves and undertake local self-help projects. Officially, we work under the auspices of a new Colombian governmental agency, Acción Comunal (Community Action), but this is coffee-growing country, and as result, we get a lot of support from the Coffee Federation. Aurelio, in fact, is an employee of the Federation.

The Coffee Federation is a major presence in rural Colombia, providing agronomists, home-extension agents and other such services, and in many places, it is more powerful than the government. The Federation has money; the government has little.

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1 comment:

joshua said...

It was interesting. I liked it. Keep writing!!

This is Joshua from Israeli Uncensored News