02 Jul 19 News Communities Chile

School grounds get makeover for Mapuche new year

Planting with children from Carlos Springer school
Before... the school greenhouse.
Sheeting goes on...
And after... our green-fingered team
Schoolchildren put on a big send-off

Mainstream’s community relations team, along with four staff members from different areas of the company, got away from the Santiago office last month and headed south to the region of Los Lagos on a corporate volunteering mission.

The Escuela Rural Carlos Springer is a small school with just 14 students in the rural commune of Frutillar, where Mainstream is currently developing the Puelche Sur Wind Farm Project.

It is one of five local schools we have engaged with since the project’s conception more than four years ago, and the highly successful “Design your bag with Mainstream” competition and the Ventolera y Ventarrón educational programme are just two of the activities that have strengthened relationships with our future neighbours in that time.

This year, the Carlos Springer school wanted to focus on promoting environmental education outdoors. The plan involved restoring the school’s greenhouse, sowing seeds inside it and planting native trees in the school grounds. And all this was to co-incide with we-tripantu, the Mapuche new year, as part of their intercultural programme.

With the objectives set, Senior Community Relations Executive Rodolfo Angel invited Mainstream staff who don’t normally work on site or with communities to participate in this initiative.

The team began their day at a traditional Mapuche ceremony organised by Herminio Llaituqueo, president of the Los Canelos Indigenous Community. They then got down to work on restoring the greenhouse and planting. And when the make-over was complete, they had lunch with the community and were treated to a closing ceremony put on by the children.

Farah Ghaddar, executive administrator for Mainstream Chile and one of the volunteers involved, described the initiative as a “wonderful experience”.

She added: “We were given the opportunity to spend time with community members and to be part of a project that is so much more than just ‘building a greenhouse’.”

The activity not only helped to strengthen links with the school community in Frutillar, but also allowed members of different areas of the company in Chile to step out of their everyday roles and engage with communities in a different environment.

The Puelche Sur Wind Farm Project, which secured its environmental approval in March of this year, will have an estimated capacity of 153MW and supply clean energy to at least 180,000 homes when completed.