It's 7 am and a cool breeze runs through the halls of La Cueva School in San Antonio de Naranjo, Costa Rica. There are children running, laughing, screaming and overall there is an atmosphere of joy and happiness. CIMS team is at the school; which is small, colorful, immersed in a rural coffee growing area where they live in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
This year for the first time as part of our commitment to sustainability we decided to conduct a “social project“. The project was developed with the objective to generate a positive impact on the sustainability of low-income coffee communities in the country.
We decided to work with a school to have the opportunity to interact with children, which are more open minded and eager to learn. Our approach was teaching in a practical way with activities involving all stakeholders, for which we held three workshops with children from 9 to 12 years, some parents and community leaders.
Each workshop was a unique learning experience. The first workshop consisted of teaching children how to properly recycle and reuse materials through art crafting. The second workshops focused on introducing children into the world of coffee and create certain awareness on the issue since currently young children of farmers are engaged in other activities. The third and final workshop was to encourage local food production. Celery and chives were seeded in plastic recycled bottles. The intention with these workshops is that the school staff and children replicate the process and to raise awareness on the importance of the environment, sustainability and even health related issues.
When we finished the activities, the children decided to thank us with multiple displays of affection. They gave us drawings of the most joyful activities, wrote essays, quotes, etc. Some of these impressions are the following:
"I learned that it is very important to recycle, reuse and plant because that way we can take care of nature and this way nature will take care of us" - Anonymous
"I will recycle to have a more healthy and beautiful Naranjo " – Pamela Rojas
“I really liked planting and I will continue sowing and recycling, it is funny. Thanks for teaching me " - Nicol Vargas
"Thanks for everything CIMS team! I learned many things, such as recycling, to make small planting lots and traps. We heard very nice presentations which left me with good memories, I had fun. I will continue doing what I was taught " - Keylor Vargas
The school Director, Eugenia Chaves, was very grateful for the workshops and mentioned: "The activities helped reinforce the importance of the environment to the children and also managed to spark interest and creativity, not only to children but also educators and community members who participated. “
Some of the results of the project were to motivate children, the school and the community to engage with sustainability. For example, the school now recycles Tetra packs with the company Dos Pinos and every 74kg delivered gains them a desk, made from the same material. Furthermore, they are recycling plastic bottles and paper, delivered to an association near their location thus benefiting the community. Currently they are raising funds to build a small greenhouse in the courtyard of the school to encourage production.
For us, CIMS, it was very rewarding to work with children and help with their training. We are happy to help out improving sustainability in rural areas, in a different way which we do daily through research with agricultural producers but rather with an entire community and more importantly with their children.