October 5, 2003 - Chico Statements: Phillip Ubaldi finds Avocados and mudslide in Guatemala

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Guatemala: Peace Corps Guatemala: The Peace Corps in Guatemala: October 5, 2003 - Chico Statements: Phillip Ubaldi finds Avocados and mudslide in Guatemala

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, October 04, 2003 - 11:29 am: Edit Post

Phillip Ubaldi finds Avocados and mudslide in Guatemala

Phillip Ubaldi finds Avocados and mudslide in Guatemala

Avocados and mudslides
Phillip Ubaldi (B.S., Agricultural Business, '97) worked hard to learn Spanish for his assignment to an agricultural marketing project in Guatemala. Still, he says, "I made some mistakes." He inadvertently called his host father a pig instead of a coach. "I kept asking him, 'So you're a pig, right?' 'No, I have a pig,' he said. They were really nice about it."

Living with 10 other people in a small house was Ubaldi's first taste of Guatemalan life. The house was cold and wet, and the food was limited, but the friendship and hospitality were abundant.

Ubaldi worked with farmers who grew export crops marketed through an agricultural cooperative. Each farmer worked about one-tenth of an acre of steep hillside. Because the export crops, snow peas and zucchini, were foods the people didn't eat, farmers dumped the food when the price was too low. People lost income and food, so Ubaldi researched alternative crops. Avocados would work with the climate, the terrain, and, if the export price was too low, people would eat the avocados themselves. He talked with hundreds of farmers, and some decided to plant avocado trees.

Ubaldi lived in a town of 2,000 people nestled at the base of a hillside. He tells of seven deadly mudslides that struck after almost two weeks of heavy rain last year, burying houses and killing people. "Because of deforestation, there was no root zone. It's just all soil on a steep mountainside; the soil reached its capacity, and it all went down." Twenty-seven houses were lost, buried under 10 feet of mud. Fortunately, many people were outside, and most survived. The town mobilized within minutes, with the mayor taking charge and directing rescue operations. The disaster led to a renewed interest in reforestation and disaster planning.

After his two years of service, Ubaldi joined the Crisis Corps, another Peace Corps project. He returned to Guatemala for six months, helping another community develop disaster plans.

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Story Source: Chico Statements

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala



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