Monday, July 13, 2015

Ellie's Blog

The fourth week will quickly conclude and it will only be one more week until we have been in Bolivia for half of the total duration. Emotions are generally mixed, much due to being ill  for a second time. It’s so easy to complain when uneasy situations arise, but I’m trying my best to see the positive and when in doubt remember how grateful I am for everyone’s support prior to arriving in Bolivia. I recall the 12 hour fundraising cycle that my flatmates helped so much with, as well as standing in the doorway of the university library giving out biscuits to raise money for International Citizen Service; without I would not be here experiencing the major difference of culture and surroundings to my friends and family in the UK, some of whom will only ever dream of visiting South America. To you all, like I have said before, I am forever grateful.

Working in the schools is the highlight of my day and is a great distraction from the stresses of La Paz. Playing ‘jump in’ skipping with a large rope has always been a childhood favourite of mine and reliving that experience with enthusiastic kids is such brilliance in realising that language doesn’t matter for practical activities. Often it is necessary to take time out for oneself and drift thoughts with headphones in – for future volunteers note you spend almost all of your time in the company of other people.

This week in particular I have felt less safe travelling to and from work. Stray dogs growling and chasing you down the street isn’t a UK normality, but in La Paz it certainly isn’t questioned. The puppy brought in by our host sister from a pile of rubbish on the streets is making a strong recovery and is settling in at home. It almost reminds me when I first arrived with little expectation and was welcomed into a completely new environment. On visiting San Francisco market, myself and Flora (a UK volunteer living in the same host home) witnessed what looked like in the eyes of the UK sexual assault in broad daylight on a public bridge. The same scenario was witnessed again more recently only at night time by a young man and an older woman. Language barriers and personal safety risk make such situations extremely difficult. Morally you have a standard of what you know is acceptable and not, you want to intervene as you tell yourself “this is not acceptable, what if that was you? You would want someone to help.” But in Bolivia it’s far more complex when reading human interactivity and in some cases women get defensive if others intervene. As a result of this, I proposed the idea of dedicating a day in the school to educate children aged 8 to 18 on their human rights and how to treat one another. I never expected to be affected so much by this, let alone see it in the first place, but my best advice is to talk about it and raise the issue with someone you trust. I felt guilty for not intervening and frustration for how some people can be treated in Bolivia. But I trust that our session in the school is one step towards a better change.

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