The rest of our week in the Jungle went well. People were very receptive to our message, which was basically take care of water; don’t litter in the water (or elsewhere,) don’t throw toxic wastes into water sources, don’t use excessive chemicals or herbicides, especially not near water resources. We also threw in, for good measure, quite a few “Don’t destroy the forest” bits.
The kids, especially, were very excited to have us talk. Most of the schools were incredibly poor, kids may or may not have had shoes, and all the grade levels sat together either in one room or maybe they had another room or two to split out levels a bit. They were all just excited to have visitors, it was something new and different to add to their day – and they got to play games and have their pictures taken, (though this may have been more fun for me than them!) Plus, they got to listen to some strange foreigner mis-prounounce their names, claim to have no knowledge of Guarani, and say Spanish words funny, enter Amanda.
I guess I should throw in here that everyone’s first language in the Campo is Guarani – and Spanish a close second. It was particularly entertaining in the Indigenous communities when I asked the kids their names and had no idea what they were saying. Even my strongest attempts at pronunciation were met with giggles of happy children. Given that Guarani is more commonly spoken and understood, I wasn’t able to lead the discussions, as originally planned, (a little bit relieved, a little bit disappointed.) But there will be other opportunities with Spanish-speaking audiences yet!
Anyway, Procosara and WWF go into each school about once a year to talk to the kids about the forest and protecting their environment, so most of the kids – the older ones, anyway – were familiar with us from before. I have to admit that it was exciting to think that at the end of each day, these children would take their new-found knowledge of how to protect their environment and water home to their parents, and spit it out at them with authority and sincerity.
Mi Bosque Atlántico. Mi Acuífero Guaraní.