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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Lalima Village, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

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Lalima Village, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
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gustavofujiwara



Registered: April 2008
City/Town/Province: Sao Paulo
Posts: 1
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In this entire January 2008, I and 4 other students from my engineering college at University of Sao Paulo (BRAZIL) went to ‘Pantanal’ do social volunteer work as engineering students.
‘Pantanal’ is the world’s largest wetland area (75,000 sq mi), thought to be the world’s most dense flora and fauna ecosystem, and one of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage and Biosphere Reserve. With its more than 2,100 different species just of fish, mammals, birds and butterflies, I could see personally a little bit of the capybaras, hyacinth macaws, ‘mico-leão-dourado’, various species of fish and even a jaguar! Amazing!
We stayed in a very poor indian village called ‘Lalima’, right in ‘Pantanal’s heart. Although they are indians (tribe ‘Terena’) and lived in ‘bambo’ houses, they have a local school made of bricks (constructed by FUNAI – National Indians Foundation) and they are relatively urbanized: they speak Portuguese, wear clothes and purchase industrialized products from the closest city.
And there was my problem! The contact they have with the city (Miranda, a small city 40 miles far from the village) is their source for basic products like clothes, some industrialized food, soft drinks, medicines and other labeled products.
As Miranda’s government is not able to collect their garbage (it is too far and there is no asphalt road!), there is the problem of accumulating waste inside Lalima.
The destination they give to these waste is tragic: they bury it, burn it or simply throw it in the forest.
It was a big shock for me and my palls to notice what was happening in the tribe, as we always thought indians were the biggest example of healthy management of Mother Nature. We found out that as their village had some protection from FUNAI, no one could enter their land without permission and they were using it inconsequentially.
So I had in my bare hands an extremely poor urbanized indian tribe, suffering from environmental problems.
In order to solve that problem, I combined the Three R’s concept with my academic knowledge to create a sustainable and lasting solution to that issue.
I divided the project in 2 main parts: the first one was reeducate the children in the local school and create a recyclable collecting center there. Once the trash is collected and separated, there are two major tasks to be done: sell it as raw material to recycling enterprises or reuse it for both their own and for selling it as products.
The first step was simply essential because dealing with children is effective as their age allows these breaks of habits and they are the ones who are going to move it on to the next generations. Besides, it was necessary to concentrate all the tribe’s garbage in one single place so that an external collector could come and pick it all up at once. I managed to convince a garbage selective collector from a state recycling enterprise to go to ‘Lalima’ twice a month and pick their separated recyclable waste. The deal was bilaterally perfect, as he would pay cheaper for the garbage and the tribe would stop harming the environment and start generating income with something they had as useless until then.
The second step was also extremely important, as I knew they would never continue collecting their trash unless they got a financial reward. So as selling the recyclable waste generates too low income, I showed them how they could generate higher incomes by reusing and selling the bare materials as manufactured products instead.
Among the products I created to show them, I paid special attention to plastics as they corresponded to the biggest percentile of their waste, and it is one of the materials that take longest to degrade. So I made 8 products in furniture, toys, handicrafts, household utensils, including a couch made of Soda bottles and cardboard, a broom made of Soda bottles and wood, crafts made of Soda bottles and aluminum cans, and a toy made of Soda bottles and cotton rope.
And there I had the opportunity of applying my engineering knowledge on the problem. I designed all the furniture and used Resistance of Materials to calculate the safety of the products for people to use. I am continuing this project in my current research in the mechanical resistance of Soda bottles filled with sand applied to housing.
Nowadays, the tribe is growing more and more in the selective collecting, and teachers are encouraging the local students by promoting creativity competitions in reusing recyclable materials. I am so proud I feel like I helped solving the garbage problem of a whole community and contributed to the world’s health, and what is best: in a sustainable way!
I feel so glad to know that a non-profit organization like Nicodemus Wilderness Project is committed this way with the planet preservation and encouraging our youth to guarantee our next generations will have the same opportunity. Thanks a lot and join Wilderness Project cause!


END OF ESSAY



Post-project Interview with NWP:


WHERE DO YOU ATTEND OR PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE AND WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/INTEREST?


I attend college at the Escola Politécnica of University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil.
But currently, I am in an exchange program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA, for the academic year of 2008-2009.
My major in Brazil is in Mechanical Engineering but at the UIUC my major is in Aerospace Engineering. I am really interested in airplanes and social development.


HOW WILL YOU USE THIS SCHOLARSHIP TOWARD YOUR EDUCATION AND HOW WILL IT HELP RELIEVE YOUR FINANCIAL BURDEN?


My university in Brazil is a public school. In my country this means I do not have to pay for any sort of education fee. My only costs are with my maintenance (transportation, food and housing).
On the other hand, although I have full tuition waiver at the UIUC, I still have to pay for some fees like health insurance, legal services, use of library, use of city's buses, among others. Moreover, the cost of leaving here is much more expensive than it is in Brazil, and I have to rent an apartment here, and food is not subsidized as it is in my home university. On top of that, Brazilian currency to US dollars make things even worse.
For that, this scholarship is going to help me pay for some part of the university fees.


BESIDES THIS SCHOLARSHIP, HOW ELSE WILL YOU BE PAYING FOR YOUR ACADEMIC AND RELATED EXPENSES WHILE IN COLLEGE?


This year is the year I am struggling the most to pay for education. Once I go back to Brazil next semester (fall-2009) I will not have to pay for education fees and my cost of leaving will reduce drastically again, fortunately. In Brazil I also receive a financial aid to help me pay for my maintenance costs for presenting unfavorable financial conditions in my family.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE EDUCATIONAL, CAREER, AND LIFE GOALS?


In my life goals, I want to be a successful engineer in aerospace industry and a responsible social leader for my community in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
I want to finish my bachelor, enter grad school (in engineering) and start working. Doing my best to be a top engineer in my field will allow me to have more financial and political power to help a larger amount of poor people in my country, through the social projects I am involved in through my NGO and university social project called "Poli-Cidada".


HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?


When I applied to the scholarship I never really expected to win it, given so many wonderful projects I saw on the website. Receiving this scholarship was certainly a strong motivation for me to keep working on these projects for the recognition of the work I have achieved and a even stronger motivation to work harder for seeing many other people worried about the current environmental policies and trying to make a difference about it to save our future generations from a catastrophe.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT MADE POSSIBLE BY THE APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE?


One thing I agree is that it is easier to change habits and minds of youth than previous generations, as they are more flexible and open to the circumstances happening at the present world we live in. The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative is perfectly right on that spot by motivating our youth to help us bring the next generation up already aware of the current damage caused to the environment and how essential it is to preserve the remaining unaffected green areas and reverse damages that can be avoided by giving up on some economic issues. This is unavoidably necessary to start taking appropriate policies right now if we want the mankind to have a chance to survive in our planet in a not very distant future.


WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AN ACTIVE STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?


I believe people are generally divided in interior and exterior, i.e., people that are self-motivated and people that need some exterior motivation before taking a first move. If we realize how important it is to change the way we are prospering in economy by sacrificing the environment, we have to spread that and bring as many people to this cause as we can so that our efforts in conjunction will actually make a significant difference. By being active it is possible to bring exterior people to join such a extremely important cause. Nicodemus has been doing it by promoting this award. It is up to us to get together and take bigger actions involving political levels to take that to highly significant measures worldwide.
· Date: May 1, 2008 · Views: 8172 · File size: 27.2kb, 230.0kb · : 1291 x 969 ·
Hours Volunteered: 2850
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 to 21
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 183
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 2000
Native Trees Planted: None
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Ellen

Registered: March 2010
City/Town/Province: Osnabrueck
Posts: 1
March 27, 2010 3:00pm

Congratulations on your successful project!
I will use it as an inspiring example for my Engineering students here in Germany, to whom I teach English.


All the best to your future


Ellen M.A.