Friday, January 11, 2013

Commission Ambiental Municipal de MARCO!

WOW! Que buena suerte!!!
In my first monthly report to my supervisor, Diego, I told him that what my community could really use is its own environmental action committee, a.k.a. Commission Ambiental Municipal, or CAM. That was at the end of December. Well--swoop--we have one! I requested support from my new friends the provincial-level environmentalists (described in an earlier post) and they came to Marco and held a meeting on how to form our own commission on the environment. We had reasonably good attendance and started only 45 minutes late. It may have helped that when the driver went out to hand-deliver the invitations to the meeting, I went along and asked each official personally to attend. I also gave out a Peace Corps flier explaining what a CAM is and copies of my business card.
It was a real eye-opener to see how my municipality goes about calling a meeting. There is no postal service home delivery in Marco. Hardly anyone has a phone, much less email. Instead, one of the workers at the municipality (town hall) signs out the car (having a government car is a very recent innovation, too) and goes to find the people who are asked to attend the meeting. Each person signs for their invitation (stamping it with their personal rubber stamp if at all possible) and the pages go back to the secretary to show who actually got an invitation. Fortunately, the drivers know a lot of people, so we were able to track down the various officials in their offices, homes and potato fields.
The meeting was run by Joel, secretaria tecnica del sub-gerencia de gestion ambiental de Jauja. This guy is good. Anyone who has taken my environmental psychology course could just skip the unit on motivating people to protect the environment--instead, just follow Joel around. I'm really glad he's 'Using His Powers for Good', because if he wanted to run a cult, he could have them drinking Kool-Aid within days. He's a force of (and for) nature. By the time he was done, we understood what a CAM is and why we should want one, had voted to form a CAM for the district of Marco, had elected leaders, and had all sworn to serve the committee and fight for the environment. Here's Joel and the new CAM giving our juramiento:
After swearing to serve, we signed the Acta that established the commission in the municipal libro de actas (book of decisions), and stamped the page with our official stamps. (Thank you Jaime and Diego, for my own personal PC-MAC stamp, so I can be suitably formal in these situations.)
On the left in the above picture is the representative of the national government and on the right is the doctor from our health post. Both agreed to serve as officers. This is probably the best news of all. They are doers, well-respected and genuinely committed to improving the environment in our little town. What this means to me is that I've found my socios (local work-partners). Tears came to my eyes when they agreed to lead us. One of the primary determinants of the success of a Peace Corps volunteer is finding motivated local people to work with. My chance of actually accomplishing something in my two years here just increased tenfold.

After the signing, we went outside in front of the town hall to have our picture taken as a group, another requirement at any occasion of import.
That's Joel in the middle, in the suit, hands folded in front. Watch this guy, he should be running the Ministry of the Environment in a few years.

Now, just for some local color, here are some guys who were set up in the middle of my road, making a cement roof for a house. I took a picture of them on my way home.

Naturally, this resulted in some showing-off for the camera.
Peace Corps can be tough. Seriously--it can be really, really tough.
But this was a good day.

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