Friday, November 8, 2013

Getting to know Bolivia!

At the end of September, a new cohort of International Service volunteers arrived in La Paz! After a long journey from Britain, we were eager to learn about life in Bolivia, enthusiastic to engross ourselves in the local culture, and excited to start our various projects.

The new team of volunteers in La Paz - Credit: Hussein Dalghous
The first week was spent finding our way around La Paz with excellent guidance from the brilliant cooperantes tecnicos (in-country volunteers). A number of us attended a street festival on El Prado - the main thoroughfare of the city - and enjoyed our first taste of traditional Bolivian dancing. Similarly, the ChildFund team were fortunate enough to witness villagers in traditional dress dancing their way home from a local fiesta.
Bolivian girl dancing at a festival on El Prado, La Paz - Credit: Jamie Hislop

On the outskirts of La Paz, villagers dance on their return from a fiesta at Une - Credit: Hannah George-Priston
As part of learning about Bolivian culture, the entire cohort spent a long weekend on the stunning Isla de la Luna, set like a gemstone in the sparkling, spectacular Lago Titicaca. We all lived with indigenous families and engrossed ourselves in island life.
Kelly-Marie Roberts and Hannah George-Priston adorn indigenous dress provided by their host ‘mother’ 
- Credit: Jamie Hislop
 Mother and daughter; Isla de la Luna, Lago Titicaca - Credit: Aska Raheel
The primary source of income for islanders is fishing, with which the entire family is often involved. For women, the majority of their day is devoted to household responsibilities and preparing family meals. All of the volunteers were dedicated to assisting our families.
  Hussein assists Roberto and Viviana with the morning catch; - Credit: Kelly-Marie Roberts
The islanders are incredibly resilient and hardworking, but are also very hospitable, friendly, and sociable. The quarterly International Service v Isla de la Luna friendly football game was exhausting - the locals were chuckling at beetroot-faced Brits struggling with the altitude! - but resulted in an inaugural victory for the visitors.
Team Servicio Internacional Británico pose with their island counterparts after a famous victory; Isla de la Luna, Lago Titicaca - Credit: Sarah Cassidy

In our first few weeks, we have absorbed the fascinating and varied cultures of Bolivia, which are certainly different from our own. However, what has equally surprised us is the degree of familiarity of life in this colourful country.
Modern Bolivia - A youth studies aheads of a University class in La Paz - Credit: Jack Mudd
 Created and written by Jamie Hislop
Photos contributed by members of the ChildFund team 

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