Teaching Argentinian Children to Revere and Protect Their Natural Inheritance

Giving out homemade backpacks full of colouring-in sheets and pens, volunteers in Argentina are inspiring kids to cherish the country’s wildlife and ultimately become its guardians.

Ushuaia te abraza, which means ‘Ushuaia hugs you’

Argentina is a country so vast its wildlife habitats vary enormously, from subtropical in the north all the way to sub-Antarctic in the south. With such diversity, it’s no wonder the country is a paradise for bird lovers, with species ranging from rheas to macaws to penguins.

There’s a wide diversity of living standards too, with large disparities between the richer urban areas and the less developed rural ones such as the northwest province of Salta. Here, in one of the nation’s poorest places, education is a struggle for indigenous groups like the Wichí.

Salta books
Salta chidren Ushuaia
Salta Children

Inspiring the kids of Salta to pursue education

To help the children of Salta embark on the path of education, volunteers from the other end of Argentina – in the sub-Antarctic town of Ushuaia – are seeking to engage them through the natural wonders of the country they share.

The volunteers’ idea is to teach the kids in rural communities to enjoy activities such as bird watching. This will encourage the kids to cherish birds in the wild instead of catching them. Moreover, increasing the children’s awareness of the impressive birdlife around them will motivate them to learn about conservation and the environment. Their interest stimulated, they might then become aware of the possibility to study subjects such as biology, and see the opportunities it could bring for them, their area, and the environment.

Ushuaia hugs you with backpacks

Setting out with these noble goals, the project soon transformed when the volunteers discovered that the children of Salta had no books to write in, and no colouring pens or crayons to draw the birds around them. What’s more, many of the children had to walk a long way to get to school.

That was when the volunteers of Ushuaia found a new way to help their countryfolk. They call the project Ushuaia te abraza, which means ‘Ushuaia hugs you’, because they make backpacks that ‘hug’ the children. Inside these bags, the children find a school kit made by Ushuaia's volunteers containing drawings of birds to colour, and coloured pens. These kits help them learn to identify birds and deepen their fascination with them.

With support from the Hurtigruten Foundation of NOK 21,306 (approx. USD 2,400), the volunteers have now provided many children with these school kits. The grant money is also used to buy binoculars with which to observe birds and other animals.

From this initial spark of helpful inspiration, the volunteers of Ushuaia te abraza hope the children of Salta might go on to become park rangers, birdwatching guides, illustrators, or something else entirely that could enable them to take care of their natural legacy – and bring economic development to Salta.

Spreading the love of nature in Ushuaia

2,800 miles south in the town of Ushuaia, where the volunteers make the backpacks, the economic situation is very different. However, Ushuaia te abraza is also teaching the children of their own town about the environment and wildlife of the cold paradise in which they live.

The volunteers supply teachers and libraries with materials such as bird colouring equipment that teaches the children about the birds they draw. Alongside these efforts, the volunteers give monthly talks and lead guided walks through wildlife reserves to encourage the children to venerate nature.

About Ushuaia te abraza

You can see more about the activities of Ushuaia te abraza on their Facebook page here and on their Instagram page here.