HELP Environment has two primary focuses. The first and most developed being environmental education, where we aim to transform local attitudes and behaviors to reflect better environmental stewardship. The second focus is on direct environmental impacts, these programs, run in concert with local actors aim to make Huanchaco a cleaner, more environmentally sustainable place to live for all.
Throwing garbage onto the streets and dumping garbage into the ocean is often culturally acceptable and commonplace in Peru. One of our biggest goals is to have clean beaches and communities in Peru by educating youth to become environmental leaders who will then lead the environmental conservation efforts in the future. We believe that education on a grass root level is the key to create an aware, knowledgeable and involved next generation!
Our work in the community:
1. The ”Yo Cuido Mi Playa” Campaign –
The first Sunday of every month local youth from our partner schools and projects will join us at the beach in fun, interactive activities based on environmental education and carried out through team exercises, petition signing, competitive beach clean-ups et.c. At this event the youth of Huanchaco has the opportunity to use what they’ve learnt in the classroom and take action to work for a cleaner beach and future. This campaign is a flag ship event for the HELP Environment project and the organization as a whole, always involving both the community and many of our volunteers!
2. Trainings and Workshops
Thanks to a partnership with a local university we have been able to run environmental workshops to teach the children and youth in the local schools and our partner projects about the environment, pollution, and global climate change. These workshops empower participants to truly make a difference for the future of our beaches, our oceans and our planet. The youth will then be the ones to teach their peers, their families and even adults about the campaign and why protecting our environment is so important.
3. Hydroponic Gardening
On its face, “hydroponic agriculture” sounds like a cold, industrial, and ultimately environmentally unfriendly way to grow produce, but with the way our floating gardens are designed we manage to use no electricity for aeration and less water than soil-grown plants. By implementing this design in local schools, children get to see their food grow from start to finish, make organic pesticides, and learn about the environmental impacts of agriculture in a hands on setting.
4. Promoting and suggesting new government schemes
Otra Cosa Network also meets regularly with the environmental department of the municipality of Huanchaco to assist in the planning and implementation of future environmental conservation and management schemes. This can be a slow process, but often times yields practices that will be in place for decades to come.
1. Organic waste recycling
We have recently secured a large terrain that allows us to collect organic food scraps from around 40 households in Huanchaquito, a local shantytown in order to make compost. Trash in Peru is often either burned or sent to poorly managed landfills where organic waste emits much larger quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. To make matters worse when these organics break down they often mix with much more hazardous materials in dumps and can leech components into the water table or ocean.
2. Promoting Vermiculture Access
Vermiculture, or worm composting, can be up to almost twice as fast as traditional composting, and doesn’t require very large spaces. This makes it an ideal candidate for providing to our project partners to help reduce their environmental inputs.
3. Environmental conservation/Study
Working alongside a local university, as well as with other community leaders Otra Cosa Network is laying the groundwork for the conservation of our local wetlands, currently in peril due to coastal erosion.
All of our HELP Coordinator positions are higher-level volunteer positions for more experienced volunteers with strong leadership skills, who are looking to coordinate and manage one of our own Huanchaco Education and Learning Program (HELP) projects. In this position, you would receive supervision from OCN staff and you would be responsible for overseeing and supervising the other volunteers assigned to your HELP project. There is a lot of room for creativity in these positions. You will be expected to have a great deal of initiative in helping to create the structure by planning, organising and facilitating the schedule of meetings, events, and activities for your project.
Volunteer roles/working hours
Coordinate activities such as the Yo Cuido Mi Playa campaign and workshops in partner projects and schools with the help of the manager.
Supervising the other HELP Environment volunteers, including running team meetings and follow up on their goal setting
Managing the HELP Environment budget
Liaise with the local University and other local governmental and non-governmental bodies
Update our HELP Environment curriculum
Minimum intermediate Spanish level
Minimum commitment: 3 months – the longer, the better.
Good people skills, as you will be supervising other volunteers
Volunteers should have some background in working with children
Leadership and discipline are must for this position. Experience in environmental issues and awareness spreading would be an advantage, but not mandatory
Each volunteer will bring their own expertise and interest to HELP Environment, and will have the opportunity to carry out new, sustainable ideas. There are also some core activities that the volunteers will be expected to help out with:
Organising our monthly Yo Cuido Mi Playa events
Promote environmental awareness in partner projects and local schools in Huanchaco
Look after and help out at our Hydroponic gardens when this project is up and running
Assist in guiding and evaluating local university students in their workshops
Carry out coordinated events and campaigns with governmental and non-governmental bodies in the area.
Basic spanish. While a higher level is not required, it is highly recommended to try to improve your level during your volunteering through spanish lessons, so that you can better interact with children and local authorities.
Minimum commitment: 4 weeks – the longer, the better.
Volunteers should have some experience of working with children.
Experience in environmental issues and awareness spreading would be an advantage, but not mandatory