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Monday, April 29, 2013

Smita's ChildFund Project Reflections

After being faced with the immediate challenges of altitude sickness, steep hills, limited Spanish and the wonderful surprises changes in diet bring; ICS volunteers are finally settling into the vibrate and colourful life of Bolivia.

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La Paz skyscrapers

From skyscrapers to food courts, to the bustling streets of food and drink stalls and local markets full of handicrafts and traditional woollen clothing, La Paz is full of culture and diversity.

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The Witches Market

The journey began with a week and a half of intense induction sessions, where we had the opportunity to get to know the Team Leaders, the office staff, the Cooperantes and the rest of the ICS volunteers. This was jam-packed with ice breakers, presentations, orientation around the city, information and, of course, team meals! Evenings have been spent learning Spanish and winding down in local “hang out” places with Alexander’s being a popular choice.
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Induction orientation around the city: [Pictured left to right] Emma Wolfe, Smita Patel, Charlotte Cusdin, Ellie Stenson, Emily Chappell, Andrew Beattie, Marta Wierzbowski, Hannah Skidmore, Roxy Sayer, Laura White, with La Paz Zebras!

After finishing our Induction, ICS volunteers enjoyed a weekend trip away to Coroico, basking in 30 degree heat and undertaking a beautiful scenic hike in the valley and visits to a number of waterfalls.

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Scenic views of Coroico

The last two weeks in ChildFund have involved getting to know more about the organisation and the work that is being carried out in centres across La Paz. We had the opportunity to meet with the directors and educators as well as visiting the centres we will be working at during our stay.

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Las Lomas centre

I am based at the Las Lomas centre and will be working with children with disabilities and special educational needs as well as youths between the ages of 10-15. Los Lomas is a brightly-coloured building covered in murals of Disney characters. It has well-resourced classrooms and a large playground for the children to enjoy outdoor activities.

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Las Lomas playground

Having visited our centres, the ChildFund team are now planning workshops, events, and a 12-week session plan on the activities and lessons we will carry out at our centres.

We are also working on the planning and writing stages of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum. During our induction, we learnt that sexual health and underage pregnancies are prevalent issues in Bolivia. ChildFund hopes that the curriculum will support young people in understanding the importance of recognising their own decision-making ability, how to assert those wishes by raising their confidence and self-esteem and providing information on support services in the area.

With the Induction stage now over, I am excited to start work at the centre and for all the new experiences yet to come in the following weeks!

Written by Smita Patel
Edited by Liam Hilton

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