Over the past two weeks the team has been involved in small community projects in the neighbouring villages of Los Pozos and Los Rivera. Whilst being introduced to various members of the community we learnt of the struggles they face in day to day living but also of the educational initiatives which are helping the communities to increase their development.

In Los Pozos we were told of a scheme, initiated by a German charity which visited the area, which helps boost the local income. The scheme was to produce shampoos and detergents, made entirely of natural sources and using recycled bottles. We were told an 80 cent profit was made on each bottle sold.

We were also shown around the clinic by the only medic in the community, Rutilio. His work consists of visiting a number of local villages and providing healthcare. The young man had only months of first aid training, displaying to us the need for improved healthcare training and a better awareness of health and safety and sanitation issues in the area.

He explained to us that parasites were the most common form of illness, this being due to the lack of clean water and locals not understanding the importance of handwashing after using the toilet and preparing food.

We were shown how to make gauzes and swabs for the clinic to use on open wounds and made enough for 5 months supply. We also made an inventory of the medicine room, checking for expiry dates and numbering the supplies. There was also a need for the communal house in the village to be restored back to its original useable form. This included several days of thorough cleaning and repainting the walls. This means it can be used again as an additional classroom, for community functions and for any other events such as the elections.

In the nearby village of Los Rivera, we have been helping with the building of a church which has been very nearly completed by each volunteer group working alongside local workmen. We aided the construction of the latrine to be used by the community; this involved digging a pit several meters deep and preparing the sand to be mixed for cement to be used in the next stage of construction.

Throughout the past couple of weeks we have been working on a project devised by ourselves, creating a mural in Arcatao raising awareness about environmental issues such as the effects of littering and burning plastics. This is a 3D mural using recycled water bottles to create leaves each with messages on how to care for the environment and the effects of climate change in the region.

The creation of this mural will hopefully have an impact on the population of Arcatao to preserve their lush green environment. A number of interested people both old and young came to inspect the sculpture and learn the meaning behind it.

Towards the end of our stay in Arcatao we gave a presentation to a number of people from the town, discussing the issues facing the local communities and how the work we have carried out has combatted some of the more minor issues. As they say, every little helps and this couldn’t be more true when referring to development work.

By ICS Progressio volunteer Molly Girvan. Photo of the ICS Progressio team which went to Arcatao (with Progressio's Carmen Medina, front row, second from right).