This past summer I had the opportunity to intern in Paraguay with the Fundacion Paraguaya. The founder of this organization had come to our school to talk about the organization as a whole and the different components of it. I was fortunate enough to have him come to my class that same day where he talked about this self-sustainable agricultural school, the only 100% self-sustainable school. There are others that are modeled off it and are in the process of becoming 100% self-sustainable but they still have a way to go. Here’s what I mean by self-sustainable: there are no outside governmental or sponsors who give money to keep the school afloat. The students at this school range between 16 and 19 and work in a number of departments: plant production, animal production, general work, and hotel management.
They had experience in just about every aspect that could come in handy in the future. The plants and the animal’s production allowed for them to have revenue when they would go into the city and sell their products, the hotel was another aspect that allowed them to bring in revenue that would go back into the school to maintain it. For the first part of my internship I was working at the school mostly with the sustainable agriculture aspect, the farming. I planted and harvested various different plants. I also had the chance to work with some goats and learn about them.
For the second part of my internship, I worked with a different component of the same organization (all the branches work with each other), this branch was called “Semaforo de eliminacion de probreza” which in English means “Stoplight Poverty Elimination”. This group basically has established an auto-evaluation for families to take in order to get an understanding of where they stand in terms of poverty. It is a list of 50 questions that get labeled green, yellow, or red depending on their answers. With the help of the organization the goal is to pull them out of poverty through a number of workshops. The organization wanted to stress that it’s not about giving them what they may lack, but rather to teach them what they can do. You can give a man a fish but you’ll feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. That’s the ultimate idea of this organization. I was very fortunate to have had this opportunity and I was able to practice my Spanish. What people may not know is that in Paraguay, Spanish is actually the second language with Guarani being the first (their native tongue). English is very rare to hear, especially in the small town of Cerrito where I was staying. I was very fortunate for this experience and I cherish it a lot. It has taught me a lot and has opened my eyes to new cultures and has made me a humbler person. I hope that I will have the opportunity to go back.