Episode Forty Five – Taller de Reciclaje

Hi all.

I apologize in advance for not having had time to write out, redraft, then upload this post – but goodness knows if I had, it’d be another week or so coming. So here it is, because mostly I just want to share some pictures and links with you all.

The first week I arrived in MUSADE (almost three months ago now, wtf), my colleague Andrés said he had a project he needed some help with. This year marks 25 years of MUSADE’s continued support to the community of San Ramón, and so he was planning on operating a workshop to teach a few new crafts to the women of the sub-organisation REMOC: crafts which we would then exhibit in the waiting room to show what we’re all about. He was going to emphasize how we’ve sustained MUSADE (or rather, how they’ve sustained it – I don’t think I’m really qualified to classify my three months of marketing workshops as a make-or-break contribution) by making the craft activities sustainable. Or maybe there was some other reason for it, but basically we ended up teaching three crafts using recycled materials.

I have to say, a lot of the people from my marketing workshop who said they were interested in attending the recycling one never ended up showing up – I attributed it to the rain the first time, to having forgotten the second time, and to the sun the third time. However, I’ve taught a select few of them the techniques and it looks like a couple of them are interested and at least one is actually enthusiastic about them, so that’s something. It always puts a spring in my step to see that someone is really taking stock of what I’m saying and recognising it as valuable.

I think this might be the face Grant always tells me I make when I'm concentrating.

So here’s what we made:

Scrap-fabric bracelets from V & Co. – Yadira thought the woven chain would look equally good as a dress strap. What a brilliant idea! This is the enthusiasm I’m talking about.

My fabric bracelet from today's workshop. Literally takes ten minutes.

Candy-wrapper bracelets from FluffyLand – These cute coloured chains could also be used on a smaller scale, such as for adorning pages or as earrings, as Ana suggested.

Points for creative effort?

And finally, these great paper-bag books which fellow WordPresser C.B. Wentworth posted about two days before my first workshop, ending my turmoil over the fact that the books I’d planned using pages from… old books… might not be strong enough to hold photos and decorations. Thanks, C.B.! Ours are nowhere near as elaborate as her own designs, but being in Costa Rica, I can’t really justify re-constructing my craft hoard, so I did my best with what I have. Here’s what we did with them:

I've been embroidering the names of people who said nice things about MUSADE in their blog posts. Carmen makes piggy banks, hence the picture.

'I feel very proud do be part of this organisation for social wellbeing'.

Yadira's creative spining technique

So that was it. We spent the afternoon crafting, beginning at 2 and ending not long before 5, taking a break for coffee in the middle (I had one of the best oranges of my life during coffee break, btw). I am disappointed that hardly anyone showed up, again: the first time there were four people, all of whom said I should do another session, but when I did last week, not a single person came. I figured it was because I didn’t call them, so this week for the third session, I asked Gerardo (because I get flustered when I speak Spanish on the phone) to call all the women who had said they were interested, which were about 15. Of the two people who came, one had been the first time and had come to add to her scrapbook, and the other was new; and then there was Patricia, who was in the building for work but finished early so she dropped in. I can’t decide whether that counts or not.

Hard at work...

Anyhow, what I wanted to say was that a week or so ago, I would have thrown in the towel by now. Forgive me for regurgitating something I said in an email earlier, but it’s probably the best way to describe how I was feeling at the time.

“I’m torn between persevering because I care and because it’s my job to persevere; and just saying ‘fuck it, if they don’t want to walk ten minutes to get here, I’m not putting aside half a work day each week to be ready to teach them these new and valuable skills’. But when I spoke to my dad he gave me a different perspective and said ‘I know it’s a volunteer job and you don’t owe them this, but talk to your boss and ask her what you should do to engage the women in your workshop because then she’ll think “This girl doesn’t give up”.’ And the thing is, Not only do I want her to think that, and say it if I ever end up using her as a reference; but I also want to be that girl. I want to be Erin Brockovich and swoop in and capture the creativity of all these women, and show them a new way of living, and open doors for them. And yes, honestly, I do understand that that’s unrealistic and that’s how I used to think and it’s got me into trouble before; but more than achieving all of those things, I want to come away from Costa Rica saying, ‘I really did my absolute best to show those women what I knew’. And yes, right now I could come away saying ‘I tried. I did more than my part’. But I can’t say I’ve done everything I could.

So there you have it. I’m going to keep fighting to show these women what I know, and I won’t stop until I can’t keep going any more. And in the meantime, I’m going to get out there and start doing things on the weekends, because I only have six of them left. :O

Today I’m feeling encouraged and motivated by one person’s enthusiasm for my class. I hope all my readers are feeling positive and inspired by something in their lives!

Until next time,





Filed under Costa Rica

5 responses to “Episode Forty Five – Taller de Reciclaje

  1. Well done, that’s awesome!!! Congratulations for being so motivated!! Wish I could steal some of that enthusiasm right now… I will try to keep it in my mind! Then again… it is perhaps slightly easier to get motivated for crafts than for linguistics assignments… but nevertheless, the message is still there!!! :D :D :D So proud of you! Loving all the pictures too btw.

    • Gee, thanks Jens! : )

      I’ll be thought-waving you some motivation for the next few weeks, to get you though :P Have you been monitoring your progress with your linguistics course? I like to write out a post-it note every day with how many pages of reading I need to get done and what other tasks I need to achieve, because I can see how much progress I actually can make in ten minutes if I just get on with it. That’s how I survived the visa process for CR! Just a wee handy hint that I’ve found.

      Keep it up Jenny! I know you can do it! Thank you for all the kind words and exclamation marks : )


  2. Wow! I absolutely love the stitching on that paper bag journal! It’s turning out so great! Thanks so much for the mention – I can’t even begin to tell you how exciting it is to see so much inspiration and creativity.:-)

    I think you’re doing an amazing job! Your enthusiasm is infectious and its only a matter of time before the whole village catches on. :-)

    p.s. I love the bracelet. How do you make it? :-)

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