Saturday, July 4, 2015

A new beginning

My first cohort has finished. When I first started working in the program I never thought I’d end up with so many good memories, good friendships and with the necessary experience to cement a wall. 
Since the volunteers went back to the UK and the cooperantes técnicos stopped working on the program, the office has been quiet but that doesn’t mean that we are lacking on work to be carried out. We started with the reconstruction of our project and the preparations to receive cohort 13. On this last stage of the ICS program the structure of the volunteers has changed and now we’re going to be working with the same number of Bolivian volunteers as UK volunteers (The Childhood and Youth Empowerment has seven UK volunteers and six Bolivian volunteers). 

With this team we will be working in the centers of Las Lomas San José, Santa María de Alpacoma, Niñas San Gabriel and we will start doing pilot sessions with shoeshiners kids and youths from the Hormigón Armado in preparation to the ICS II program. Also, in this cohort we will be making bread and we will be assisting in the kitchens in the centers, we will work in greenhouses and will be participating actively in community points.  

The first week was a bit chaotic because there were lots of preparations to do for the induction of the programme to all the British and Bolivian volunteers. It was good to meet the volunteers from our project but it was also hard to manage and organize such a big group of volunteers. We finished the first week with a cultural exchange event on Saturday night with the host families and Sunday at 6 am we went to Las Lomas center to celebrate with the children and youths the aymaran new year (5523). In this event we received the first rays of sunlight, we shared Andean music and dances, we took nutritious food and we participated in football games. Also present were volunteers from other projects which enriched the occasion. 

During the second week the volunteers started to plan their first sessions and established a work routine. Even though some sessions in the centres were irregular due to the winter holidays in schools, the physical work that we carry out is not as simple as it seems. There were a few burnt breads with irregular shapes but I’ve seen much enthusiasm and hard work from the volunteers in the kitchen, in the greenhouses and in the community points. The week ended on Saturday with the participation of International Service – Bolivia in the Gay Pride march that took place in the city center. Once again there was plenty of commitment and predisposition from the volunteers during the event. 

On this last week, even though activities are still a bit irregular in the centers, the team has gained a certain degree of independence in their centers and they have been more confident and comfortable.
I hope that when the cohort finishes I leave the program with more memories, friendships and with the necessary experience to build greenhouses o to bake bread for 200 people in two hours. 

Cohorts 13, take this chance with both hands!

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