Projecto Educação e Água – A Documentary about Water Advocacy

Projecto Educação e Água is a short documentary about the work that the Project WET Foundation is doing to improve health in some of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest neighborhoods through water education and advocacy. This film follows Project WET, a U.S. nonprofit organization with a 20-year history of creating and implementing water education activities around the world, as they partner with local organizations and community leaders to create behavior change that will reduce disease, improve trash management, and maintain clean water sources. The film will explore the challenges facing these communities and improvements they have already made.

This film aims to help Project WET expand their programs through education and awareness. Support this documentary on Indiegogo.

This spring, filmmaker Maureen Lee Maloney will be traveling to Rio for 3 weeks with Julia Nelson, Program Manager for Project WET. She has been working within Rio’s slums, known as favelas, since 2012.

In the past, these neighborhoods were ignored by the government. They completely lacked any kind of infrastructure, including garbage removal and water treatment. Since 2010 the government of Brazil has taken steps to incorporate these areas into the city and improve the lives of the people there. However, with so many years of neglect to overcome, progress has been slow

When Project WET first began working with these communities they found high levels of dengue fever and diarrhea, both serious diseases that are closely linked to polluted water sources. Often children play in trash, and less than 40% of school children were washing their hands after using the toilet. Project WET has already collaborated with local partners to create customized educational materials focused on improving the hygiene and sanitation behaviors of children in favela communities.

The next step for Project WET is to train local educators to use the hands-on methodology and activities in the newly customized educators guide. These educators will then become Project WET Trainers and will train other educators in their communities. The goal is to train at least 500 educators in Rio de Janeiro, reaching at least 10,000 children and their families.

Access to clean water is critically important. What can you do today to ensure clean water for future generations?

What We Need & What You Get

With only $4500 we can afford to produce and distribute a 20-minute documentary about how Project WET’s educational program is improving health in Rio de Janeiro, demonstrating the power of education in addressing serious water-related health threats. This total includes all pre-production (research & planning), production (travel, equipment, crew), and post-production (editing) costs.

There are special discounts for people who join the campaign during the first week, so don’t miss out!

We want you to get something cool in exchange for your support. There are environmental education materials, a special Collector’s Edition DVD, and beautiful photos of Rio by Maureen Lee Maloney.

 The Impact

Small organizations like Project WET are able to have a much bigger impact than large organizations because they work one-on-one with people in the communities they serve. However, they often don’t have the resources to educate the public about their work. A documentary will be a valuable tool to support the programs provided by Project WET by raising awareness and increasing understanding of their programs.

Find out more about Projecto Educação e Água

Water Education & Advocacy in Rio de Janeiro

Yesterday I launched the Indiegogo campaign to raise money for my first official documentary. I am so excited to be making a film about the awesome work that Project WET is doing in Rio de Janeiro.

http://igg.me/at/water-education-rio/x/6165942

Friends, if lots of people go to the page, click Like, Tweet, and +1, the project will be featured on the Indiegogo home page. So PLEASE, even if you can’t donate, you can help!

http://igg.me/at/water-education-rio/x/6165942

Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot!

 

It’s finally happening!!!

Plans are in the works for me to create a short documentary about water education and advocacy in Rio de Janeiro!

My good friend, and returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Julia Nelson is a the Program Manager for Project W.E.T. She has been working with a community in Rio for several years to identify issues related to water and health. They found that due to the large amounts of solid waste left in the favelas, there are high numbers of people suffering from Dengue fever and diarrhea. They have created curricula and materials for the teachers and community leaders to use for educating people about ways to improve these problems.

A lot the work is being done to improve the lives of the 1.2 million people living in the favelas around Rio de Janeiro. I will be going down to document the work that is going on there in order to educate people here in the States. My Kickstarter campaign starts Tuesday!!! And there will be deals for people who join in the first week- so check back here for the link!

I have dreamt for a long time about making documentaries, and I have worked towards this goal in babysteps. It’s finally starting to happen, and I am so grateful to all of you who have supported me. Much Love!

Random thought for the day

All I want to do is wander. I just can’t stay in one place for very long. There are too many places to see, people to meet, and things to learn! I’ve given up on having a “home” and things- not that I am disparaging having things. I like having things, I really do. It just isn’t enough for me. I wish it was. It would be easier if I could just be satisfied with having a nice car, or a big wardrobe, or a giant TV with the latest gaming system. Being pulled around the world by invisible forces, searching for something I can’t explain, constantly trying to quench an unstoppable thirst- that is hard! More than that, it is a pain in my ass.

Don’t know why I felt compelled to write this today, but there you go. I hope you’re having an amazing day.

Inspiring People #1

Sometimes I meet people or see artwork or read articles that really put a fire up under my butt and get my creative/adventure juices flowing. I thought I should write about the people, etc that inspire me.

Back in 2006 my friend Jared introduced me to a very cool girl named Risa. She had circled the globe with her guitar, WWOOFing along the way. Nearly 3 years ago I went to their wedding in Tahoe (YAY!). Last year Risa road her bicycle (mostly solo) from Ecuador to the tip of Patagonia. This year she agreed to go with Jared to the Carribbean IF he agreed to ride across Columbia with her. That is one wild, inspiring woman! Read more about her adventures at http://bicivida.travellerspoint.com

Sail. My time on a Tall Ship

Almost a year without a post? How embarrassing! I have no excuse, but hope to regain your attention with this video I made about my time sailing aboard the schooner Bill of Rights.

10 Best Websites for Traveling Cheap (or Free!)

I recently tweeted an article called 10 Reasons Why You Should Travel as inspiration to get people traveling. A friend responded that they didn’t have money to travel, and needed my advice on how to avoid turning tricks or “being a drug mule.”

Ok, I get the whole “I can’t travel because I don’t have any money” excuse, but I want to convince you that it isn’t true. I came to Mexico with under $3,000, and I’ve been here for nearly 6 months. Yes, I ran out of money and had to hitchhike, but hey, it worked. It really isn’t as difficult and crazy as you think.

The ultimate solution is to stop worrying so much. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, since we are all so programmed to worry. The universe really does reward those who take chances on its behalf, and the moment you trust that, a whole new world opens up.

But you want something more pragmatic for your doubting mind, so here goes.

Getting There

I will briefly mention Kayak.com in case you live under a rock and don’t know about it yet. I like how you can search through multiple websites, and get email updates whenever there are flight deals.

Also, I will bring up hitchhiking because I have met several travelers (other than myself) that have been very successful at this. Although I haven’t used it, eRideShare.com has both long distance and local rides. Maybe you aren’t ready for that level of adventure, just yet. But…what about going by boat?

FindACrew.net

Have you ever wanted to learn how to sail? You don’t need any money OR any experience! These days, boats practically sail themselves. Skippers set a course and then hit autopilot. However, they still need someone to keep an eye out for other boats, that way they don’t have to be awake and on deck the entire time. That could be you!!!

Requirements:

-       You need to be able to live in close quarters with another person, and sometimes multiple people. If someone really sucks, the skipper will usually drop that person off at the nearest port.

-       You need to be able to sit on deck and keep your eyes open for a few hours. Bring your iPod.

-       You need to be able to follow simple directions. There are a lot of little details involved in the proper maintenance of a boat. Like being careful what you put in the sink because it could clog the filter. If you break something because you weren’t paying attention, you’re probably getting dropped off at the next port.

Advice:

Hang out with the skipper and other crew members for at least a few days before heading out to sea. If you’re new to boating, find someone who just takes day trips around the area.

Lodging & Food

If you pay the big buck$ you could go to a resort and spend all day lounging by the pool. But you don’t need to travel for that. If all you want is to relax, plan yourself a nice little staycation.

If you want an incredible experience, then you should volunteer a few hours a day. After all, Gandhi said,

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

There are many places that will exchange room and board for your valuable volunteer time. Here are some websites where you can find such fantastic opportunities:

Workaway.info

Helpx.net

WWOOF.org

Some of the places on these pages are hostels, which are fun because then you are always meeting new people. You can find more hostel jobs, and various other fun jobs at GoAbroad.com and JobsAbroadBulletin.co.uk. Sometimes if I can’t find a posting for a hostel job in the city where I want to go, I will just Google search for hostel jobs in that city, or I will find the contact info for that hostel and email them directly. Occasionally I find hostel jobs posted on Craigslist. This is rare, but worth a try.

Advice:

Be patient and adaptable. As with anything, a good attitude will get you far. Also, use websites like Couchsurfing (more about this in a minute) to meet other people in the area to hang out with.

If you’re not interested in volunteering, but still need a place to stay, go no further than Couchsurfing! Not only will you get lodging, but also you are also likely to get a tour guide and someone to party with. In most cities there is an entire Couchsurfing community that meets weekly, and maybe more often. Although I was only in Mexico City for 6 days, I met up with the Couchsurfers 3 times. We went dancing, took a gondola ride in Xochimilco, and watched some Lucha Libre action. You shouldn’t expect your host to buy you food, but you can probably cook them a nice meal for cheap.

Advice:

Read each profile thoroughly to get a better idea if you have things in common with your potential host. Also, read the reviews of that person so you know what other people have experienced with them. This will help you avoid creeps. I haven’t met a creep on Couchsurfing yet, but I also only stay with people who have complete profiles and at least a few references.

I was staying with a friend in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico who is renting a huge 3-bedroom apartment with an amazing ocean view for practically nothing. The owners only lived there a few months out of the year, and wanted to have someone living there the rest of the time. So I thought, “Man, I wish there was a website that would help me find places like this!” Lo and behold, HouseCareers.com. I have only looked over the website so far, but there are people looking for housesitters all over the world, some for only a few days, and others for 6 months. One reviewer wrote that she and her husband were traveling through Europe this way. Needless to say, I am excited to try this out!

As far as your food is concerned, you can eat super cheap in most of the really interesting places (i.e. India, Thailand, Mexico). Forget the fancy restaurants and go local. Or even better, get yourself some street food. That’s where the best food is anyway.

Advice:

Ask locals where the best street food vendors are.

Travel is not something you will ever regret doing. I hope you feel empowered to start your own journey. You really can’t imagine how cool the world is until you see it for yourself.

 

 

Wildlife of the Lacandon Rainforest

Backpacking in the rainforest of Chiapas was an amazing experience. The sound of howler monkeys is pretty much ubiquitous anywhere in the jungle, and it is very intense. The area near Bonampak was particularly impressive, with gigantic trees and hidden ruins. There is also a rich indigenous Mayan culture. This definitely ranks with Oaxaca City as a “must experience” in Mexico!

Thumbing a ride in Mexico

Monday, April 23, 2012
Since my last entry I have hitchhiked over 1500 km, and started learning how to sail. It’s amazing how much your life can change in such a short period of time.
I spent a week with my gypsy clan before heading down to the tiny pueblo of Barra de la Cruz, about 25km south of Huatulco. I went there to meet up with my friends Fernando and Akasha, who have been traveling around Mexico on a bus, educating children about permaculture. My plan was to help Akasha start an organic farm and seed bank with a friend who lives there, and has a good plot of land.
Barra de la Cruz is as close to paradise as you can imagine. There is a river that flows out into the ocean creating lush wetlands, and a lagoon that is perfect to swim in. Then there is a long white beach with world-famous waves, and giant boulders at the end that glow orange at sunset. There are fruit trees everywhere. I was fortunate enough to find accommodations in a palapa that was surrounded by coconut trees full of coconuts. I literally walked outside and grabbed one right off the tree. Then after about 20 minutes of hacking at it wildly with a machete, I was able to drink its sweet, delicious water (you know, always good to work up a thirst). On my way to the beach I stopped by a mango tree that had recently shed it’s fruit all over the ground. Perfect, food for the rest of the day!
I would have been happy to stay here for months, just gardening and surfing. Akasha seemed a little unsure about the status of the farm, though, and I had an opportunity to learn how to sail up in Puerto Vallarta. I waited a few days to feel it out, but my gut told me to go to Puerto Vallarta. The only problem was that Puerto Vallarta was over 1500km away, and I had about 30 pesos in my pocket. I decided to trust in the Universe and thumb my way up the coast.
The Universe did not disappoint. It took me 4 days, but I made it with spare change in my pocket. People are so amazing. One man gave me a free ride in his collectivo (basically a taxi-van), drove me further than his route, and then flagged down another ride for me before he left. One person actually offered me a job, but it was in the opposite direction of where I was headed. Maybe next time ☺ Sometimes I got to practice my Spanish, sometimes I got to help someone with their English, and sometimes I spoke fluent Spanglish. I saw where our mangos, papayas, and coconuts are grown, and hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline. Two nights I spent on the floors of bus stations, but one night I spent in a breezy hotel room overlooking the ocean, with the sounds of the waves crashing below me.
Sound scary? It’s true; I am at the mercy of God. But I am learning to trust, and it feels great to experience real abundance. Not the abundance that I have to fight tooth and nail for, give up my dreams and settle for a life of drudgery, but the abundance that flows naturally through the universe.
When I finally made it to Puerto Vallarta I was met by Joe, a good-natured guy who offers people the chance to sail on his boat through FindaCrew.net. Actually, Joe is always sending out good vibes and generosity wherever he goes. For the past week we have been sailing around the bay and visiting cool spots and amazing restaurants around PV. He has been patiently teaching the ropes of sailing, and helping me figure out what to do next.
As far as that goes, I’m stilling waiting to see. As usual I have a variety of fantastic options to choose from. We will have to see what happens, or as they say in Spanish, ‘A ver!’

My Life as a Gypsy

Originally I wanted to title this post “10 pesos for a photo with a Guera (gringa)!”

Where to even start with this post? I’ve been spending way too much time with my own thoughts, and my mind as usual has been fighting with my heart over what I should do. I don’t know why my mind even bothers; my heart always wins. I swear my heart always wants to take the most difficult path, though.

San Cristobal is a cool city (I mean this figuratively and literally) in the mountains of Chiapas. It has that kind of revolutionary vibe that I think of often when I think about Mexico (you know, Frida Kahlo, communist sort of stuff). In fact, there are a lot of artists and businesses in Chiapas that support the Zapatistas. There are lots of good restaurants, cool bars, and handicrafts. There are several groups of indigenous people in the region, and the women wear these black wool wraparound skirts with colorful handwoven belts.

But back to my head/heart problem. I was almost out of money, and could have found a job in San Cris, but my heart wanted to go to the beach. And not the kind of beach that has lots of jobs posted online, like Cancun, but the beach in Oaxaca. Why? Because I have a new friend who I met on my journey through the jungle, who is going to start an organic garden and seed bank here. One of my current goals is to learn more about natural medicine and healing, so helping to start a garden seems like the perfect thing to do.

It just so happens to be Semana Santa (Holy Week), the time when all Mexicans go to the beach for vacation. Several people were talking about going to make money along the beach, and I had the idea to make hair wraps for people. It’s a skill I haven’t used in a while, but in high school I made hair wraps for my teammates on long bus trips to away games.

So I spent the last of my money on a bus ticket to the beach and some embroidery thread. I decided to go to the town of Huatulco, since it is closest to where the garden will be. I contacted a few Couchsurfers in the area, but often it’s difficult to find a last-minute couch. When I arrived in Huatulco at 8am I went to a café and spoke to my waiter about where I should go to sell hair wraps. He told me the most people would be at Playa La Entrega, and pointed it out to me on a map. I finished my coffee, and off I went. It turned out to be a 6km walk, mostly uphill. It wouldn’t have been that bad, except that I was carrying a backpack filled with video equipment, and all my other worldly belongings. Let’s just say, every time a rounded a curve and saw another hill, I had some ‘words’ with God.

But I did eventually make it to the beach, and as soon as I set up my stuff I had 2 customers. They were 2 very squirmy little girls, and I have to admit that even though I had practiced on myself, their hair wraps were not the best. The mom didn’t seem to care, though, and she even invited me to join her family for lunch. This worked out perfectly, because before I could finish the 2 wraps I got shut down by ‘the man’ (well, actually it was a woman). Apparently you need a permit to sell anything at this beach. So after I finished my ceviche tostadas and beer, and had a nice conversation with this woman about her home in Guanajuato, I decided I would go back to the town center and try selling there (by taxi this time!).

As I was walking out, though, a guy stopped me and asked why I was leaving. I told him that I was told I needed a permit. He explained that after 5pm it was ok to sell, and that he and his friends were waiting to sell their things. And so I joined Mohammed from Morocco, Mariano from Argentina, and Maria from Mexico City. Mohammed and Mariano are both artisans, creating jewelry and henna tattoos. Maria had 2 photo boards, the kind you put your face into, and was charging 10 pesos per photo. There were also guys with animals- one with an iguana and one with an albino python, charging for photos. I thought, man, I need an exotic animal I can charge to take photos with. Later, while making hair wraps for people, I realized that I AM an exotic animal. Or at least, after talking to me about my travels everyone wanted to take pictures with me. Not that I charged them anything, but I thought about it ;)

I ended up making 180 pesos that day, which is not a fortune, but a really good start! Mohammed and Mariano have been very cool, letting me stay with them and showing me how to create beautiful macramé jewelry. There have been challenges, like I stored my bags in the back of someone’s Jeep, and it took 2 days for me to get them back. I feel like I’m learning some valuable lessons, like how to relax and go with the flow, but also when to put my foot down and demand what I want if I feel strongly about something.

The main lesson, I think, is about being open to accepting the abundance of the Universe. It’s something I struggle with, because a part of me feels really guilty if I don’t work hard for something. But I also like to give freely of the things I have. If you give freely, though, you should be able to accept freely (and vice versa!). All-in-all, I’m exited about this new adventure, finding different ways to make money and integrating into a whole new subculture. I wish I could video it all for you, but unfortunately I haven’t figured out a way yet to film life at the same time as I live it. But if anyone out there wants to volunteer to be my camera person, I can promise you a crazy adventure!