A short interview with Odilser Alexander Perez Yac
09 October 2018
Onaway has been supporting the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala. Odilsar is paid 75 Q (USD 10) per day by the project. He is vital to the project, and the project is vital to him.
What is your role in the reforestation project?
I am a viverista (I work in the tree nursery), helping organise the school children volunteers and international volunteers in the vivero (the tree nursery). I also help plant trees at our reforestation sites in the mountains of Cantel, in particular this year we have been working hard to plant trees in the pajonada.
How did you become involved with the Chico Mendes organisation?
I started as a schoolboy volunteer in January 2014 through the Instituto de Educación Básica por Cooperativa Choquiac (IMEBCH) of Pachaj. In November of 2015, Armando offered me a part time position, and I now work full time.
Why is the project important to you?
As a child I was sent into the forests which surround my family home to collect firewood (mainly for cooking), but that changed when I started volunteering with the Chico Mendes project. I now spend my time working to protect and improve the forests which are vital for the local people, providing fresh water and air, and sustainable sources of firewood. It is important that we care for the forests of Cantel.
Tell us a bit about your life outside of the project?
I live locally to the project, about an hour’s walk. My home is located on the edge of the forest, things are quite basic. We grow maize in the field next to the house which my mother uses to make tortillas. I am the oldest of 7 siblings (aged from 1 to 17 years old) and became head of the household (and principal/only bread-winner) when my grandfather passed away in November 2017.
How is the Chico Mendes organisation helping you?
When I left school I started working in the fields, earning and learning very little. I am very happy working for the Chico Mendes organisation. It has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and to meet new and interesting people. I am improving my prospects for my future.
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