Editors note: Chloée wrote the following report detailing a trip to Oruro with our counterpart organization Mano a Mano Internacional from Cochabamba, Bolivia in September 2023. Thank you Chloée! Mano a Mano is always interested in working with volunteers like Chloée that will be spending some time in Bolivia; feel free to contact us. (As a general rule, we are looking for volunteers that will be in Bolivia for multiple months, are independent and have their accommodations mostly figured out, and speak at least some Spanish.)

Cultivating Green Awareness: Ecological Adventures in Oruro

The green and sustainable adventure continues with Mano a Mano, bringing ecological agriculture into schools. Their latest destination? The town of Belén de Andamarca in Oruro! An isolated location, suffering from drought, where effective soil management is vital for agricultural survival.

Belén de Andamarca, in the department of Oruro, Bolivia

On this occasion, Mano a Mano organized a very special workshop: Ecological Soil Management! The goal of this workshop is to understand the importance of sustainable agriculture and develop practical skills for environmental preservation through the creation of ecological compost, using only local components, without chemicals.

Guardians of the Planet in the Making

Our protagonists are the students of Simón Bolivar School, most of whom are children or grandchildren of farmers. For them, the workshop was of particular relevance, as many of them are destined to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Learning to manage the soil sustainably is crucial for their future and for the health of the land they will cultivate. They are the promise of a greener agricultural future.

The Foundations of the Soil

Cesar, the soil ecology teacher, guided them through the theoretical part of the workshop. The topic? Everything you need to know about ecological soil management. Cesar shared his knowledge and spoke to them about how soil is formed, what ecology means, and why caring for the land is so important. He gave them the keys to sustainable agriculture that respects the environment. Cesar managed to keep everyone super attentive and motivated!

From the Classroom to Action: Hands in the Soil

The second part of the workshop was all about muscle and soil! The students had the opportunity to create Bokashi compost. What makes it special? Bokashi stands out for its rich composition of organic matter and beneficial microorganisms for plants. Its formula is based on easily available natural ingredients. In our case, we used llama manure, local soil, bran, adobe, water, yogurt, yeast, seeds, and eggshells. These components are combined to create a substrate rich in essential nutrients for plant growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Bokashi is much more than a simple compost; it improves soil structure, increases its water retention capacity, and promotes microbial biodiversity. It is a valuable tool in ecological agriculture, promoting sustainability and respect for the environment.

The students formed a phenomenal team; everyone pitched in, added ingredients, watered, and mixed the compost. The fun was in the air! Working with the soil is much more exciting than being in a classroom. Even some curious llamas came by to see what they were doing!

A Bright Green Future

The Ecological Soil Management workshop was not only educational but also an impactful experience. The students learned to create ecological compost, but they also took home a stronger environmental awareness and practical skills. Environmental education remains the key to shaping responsible citizens who will make a difference. With creativity, education, and the use of natural elements, we move towards a more conscious and harmonious agricultural future.

Students got their hands dirty!

About Chloée

My name is Chloée. I am 21 years old and I come from France. I am studying materials engineering and am taking a gap year between my 4th and 5th years of study. I wanted to do something very different from my studies, and I have always wished to take part in a volunteering project. So, I decided to apply to projects in four South American countries: Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. I am currently in Bolivia, where I am spending 3 months working for Mano a Mano. I could not have hoped for a better project for my first experience!

Learn More About Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture in Cochabamba, Bolivia

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Mano a Mano Volunteer Grace Shares Her Experience in Bolivia from June-August 2023