Sunday, August 9, 2015

Enya's blog

When landing in Bolivia after a short flight from Santa Cruz, the whole team was buzzing with excitement, taking in every aspect of the journey through El Alto to the centre of La Paz. The excitement within the team was dulled slightly by the anxiousness of meeting our host families, a short lived anxiousness though as they were incredibly welcoming and easy-going.  After a few days of settling in and meeting Childfund the partner for Empowering Youth, we got to work planning sessions we would deliver to children at various education centres. Unfortunately, for the first few weeks the lessons didn’t take place as the children were on winter holiday. But as facilitating wasn’t our only task we weren’t lacking for anything to do. A few groups within ‘Empo’ help out in the kitchens at the centres we teach as there are few staff members, who have a heavy work load. At Alpacoma there is only one chef who makes meals for the children and staff three times a day, along with having to make over 200 buns of bread. The first day helping out at this centre was an eye opener for one of our teams as they stayed until around four in the afternoon, still making the bread the chef would have had to make in the morning.

Making bread at Las Lomas is one of my favourite activities within the placement as I believe the staff really appreciate the help we provide, and the friendly atmosphere and language exchange is a bonus. We are aiming to make kitchen assistance sustainable by recruiting Bolivian volunteers to carry on when we leave in two weeks time. My group were actually extremely lucky as none of our lessons were cancelled over the winter holidays; we have delivered around two every week on the topic of human rights, gender equality, drugs and alcohol awareness and bullying. With such a range of activities during the week, we learn something new pretty much every day. Apart from learning new skills we also discover hidden abilities within ourselves.  Amongst writing blogs, learning Spanish and taking part in local cultural activities, every Friday morning we deliver a lesson to the rest of our designated groups and then in the afternoon join a different team for ‘Action Friday’. Last Friday my group hosted one where we succeeded in painting a positive mural at one of the centres, enriching the children’s environment.  ‘Action Friday’s’ allow us to gain insight into the others projects’, and the positive impact they are having on different social and economic aspects in La Paz. 

 One piece of advice on coming to La Paz to volunteer: it is what you make it! There is so much opportunity to go the extra mile if you look for it and take action. 

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