April 21, CO-DESIGNING WITH THE VILLAGERS & PRESENTATION OF PROTOTYPES by Alin Sukey

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Elina at the bathroom were we used to take the bucket shower / photo © Matleena Muhonen / ALM 2015

The last hard-working day at “El 20” was full of lessons, pretty interesting activities and beautiful moments! Since we arrived to the village, every morning we used to wake up around 7.30 am to make the queue for take a bucket shower with water from the well of Doña Rosa´s house.

I have to confess everyday I was nervous about the new challenges to which we would be dealing with, and this day was not the exception.

At 9 am we used to begin our meetings at the Eco-hostel, but this day, I missed (as usual) the beginning of the activity, because I was helping Brenda to take the measures of the terrain around the existing water tank and the Eco Hostel, where the Master Plan will be implemented. Claudia and Gabo took measures with feet sometime ago, so this time we were corroborating this data and we realized that only 2 meters from each side made the difference!

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Center of activities from the village / photo © Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

Then the plan of the co-design activity with the villagers was established by our facilitators focusing it into the -How Might We´s (HMW)- we classified and gathered the day before, being these:
-How might we improve, ritualize and make comfortable the bucket shower making use of the local materials and bioclimatic design?

-How might we implement an efficient and friendly environmental water storage and purification system?

-How might we communicate the benefits of the dry toilets and inspire to the villagers from El 20 to use them ?

-How might we provide the tools to the villagers for not being dependent of the governmental entities so they could be self sufficient concerning to how do people obtain water?


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-How might we- communicate the benefits of dry toilets and inspire the villagers from “El 20” to use them? / Jan Ahsltedt / ALM 2015


We were grouped in four teams that include mexican and finnish students, mentors and some villagers. My team was conformed by Lidmi Saraí, Doña Rosa (the amazing woman who gave us shelter, Matleena, Anuj and me where we worked together around the questions of making better and comfortable the sanitation system. Here we asked Lidmi to make a drawing about the bathroom she desires and dreams to have someday. At the beginning she was fearless and she said she hasn´t had any idea of how to draw while we were motivating her saying she is a better drawer than most of us. She and Doña Rosa contributed a lot into the answers saying they would love to have plants inside the bathroom, have a cotton seat in the toilet <3, have no stairs, no bad smell into the dry toilet, and have together in the same space the dry toilet and the shower.


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ALM members presenting with the little creator of “El 20 water robot” / Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015


There was a very intelligent little boy that suggested to have a robot in the community which would be in charge of storage and distribute the rainwater into the community answering to the question about how might we storage and distribute potable water around El 20. Other desires of people related to the questions were that they would like to not carry buckets of water into the places were they use it.

Late, elaborating the public presentation of the results and prototypes, the “scientific team” (Naye, Memo and Brenda) had with the kids a huge participation into the elaboration of a water poster that resulted to be colorful and beautiful. Then I got distracted by the kids because they wanted me to play with them and I dismissed the indications about how do we would work for making the prototypes in 30 minutes! :O I had just arrived at the moment feeling lost, having on my mind “Ohhhh Alin you always dismissed something!”. But finally we worked as well, learning again that I have to respect schedules of work.


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Co-drawing with the children / Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

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Introducing the rainwater and well water quality to the villagers / Ekaterina Ohotnikova / ALM 2015


At the presentation of the results and prototypes to the community, Naye and Memo began by introducing to people the research we made during our staying talking about the water samples in concrete wells, underground wells, and storage locations of rainwater pointing that rainwater is in the optimal quality for drink it. While they were giving to each villager present the PH test strips with putting into it a drop of water, they were explaining that there they could see that rainwater is in the optimal quality for drink it! People looked at that strips very curiously and observing carefully.

Then Ale and Alan began to explain the septic tank system and the How might we water and sanitation questions we made for making El 20 a better place to live in. Then, they presented the “huaje shower” designed by an industrial designer from U.N.A.M. called Regina _____?. Late they showed a storyboard related to the process of people at El 20  using the flush-et toilet. In answer to this problematics the dry toilet as good alternative of reusing waste and optimize water use was introduced. Also there was a beautiful model inspired by an idea of a kid who said he would love to have a lake with fishes and many beautiful plants within. Finally Katja and me introduced the water storage and purification alternatives.


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Prototype of a water tank that functions as an artificial beautiful lake / Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

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Dry toilet prototype / Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015

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Getting the water tank close to the shower, model by Katja / Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015


Its difficult to get the attention from villagers while presentating, some show attention, some others seems to be difficult to understand for them what we are talking about. As Josefina and Delfín suggested we have to be clear useing their own colloquial language.

Before going to take the “Last dinner” at our dearest Ofelia’s house, our mentors gave to us some scissors and Marimekko postcards for gave it to the people and children that were part of the workshop during the morning of that day. By my side, I was searching Lidmi Sarai for give her the gift-package. I began to ask the children where does she was and many told me she was already at her house.

Alin: Why she is already at her house?, she should be here with all the children playing here.

Abimael: Well, sometimes her parents doesn´t permit her to be so late outside her house.

Then Abimael led me to her house that is little bit far away from the central area of the community. There, was comming Lidmi!!


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Lidmi Saraí / photo © Jan Ahlstedt / ALM 2015


I gave her the present and thanked her of participating with us in the co-designing and she was v e r y glad of receiving it. Then she told me to wait little bit there outside her house, and she came back with this beautiful present for me

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Lidmi Saraí gift used for keeping the letters children gave to me / photo © Alin Sukey / ALM 2015

I was just s o  h a p p y of receiving this beautiful wallet knitted by her mom. Then she and me went together to Ofelia´s house, for take dinner. I just began to feel very sad about the fact of leaving that place, with amazing people, amazing environment, and amazing food & fruits. We just realized Ofelia was more quiet than normal, and obviously she was feeling very sad. Some of us said goodbye to Ofelia that night, she pointed this ALM team “is a special one, with very nice and lovely people”

That day was my brothers birthday, so then I asked Lidmi to go with me for make a call to the only telephone that exists in the community which is located in the north side of the village. I dialed the number but my brother just turned off his phone  ¬¬ . Then I dialed my mom and I said “Mom, I just feel sad of leaving, people here in the village is so lovable, gentle and friendly, I will miss so much the birds and environment in general, I would like to stay here longer, hope you and dad could come someday, I am sure they will be very glad to meet you and you will love them”

At the end Lidmi and me promised to keep a gift activity: when one gives a present to the other, this must have to give a present back! , so the gift-cycle will never end.

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