BUENOS AIRES – Villagers and volunteers are building “hand in hand” the first eco-lunch counter of a shantytown on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to help about 84 people without resources, thanks to a solidarity network based on good will, social awareness and kilos of waste.
The project began about a year ago in the La Paz neighborhood of Monte Grande, a city in the Buenos Aires metro area, when a group of boys gathered daily to play ball at the house of a poor family.
“We started making some fried cakes and the boys stayed,” project coordinator Patricia Carina Gamarra told EFE.
Gamarra is the owner of the house where a large group of children and women, some undocumented immigrants, live.
The house is in the area next to where the new Merendero La Paz is being created.
The lunch counter is the first building constructed with ecobricks made from plastic bottles filled with compressed non-biodegradable waste, a project that mixes environmental protection with humanitarian work.
Neighborhood kids and young students are working side by side, building the structure with 8,400 ecobricks held together by cement and engraved with the name of the family or person who donated it as a gesture of thanks.
Merendero La Paz aims to bring together new generations in the slum and give them a life away from the crime and drugs plaguing certain areas of Greater Buenos Aires.
Gamarra said organizers initially sought political support “from all sides” and got nothing until they learned about Red Solidaria, which has 500,000 volunteers across Argentina.
The project is expected to be viable in an area that suffers from frequent flooding, thanks to the ecobricks.