Sunday, August 2, 2015

So much to do in so little time

Can´t believe we are at the end of week of seven, time flies quickly when you´re really busy during the week. We have had an excellent schedule produced by the team leaders Vince and Ali on the first week and pretty much we have been able to stick with it every week apart from the Winter holidays, where our sessions were cancelled and instead we held football competitions with the kids, went on a school trip to the Pipiripi museum and took the kids to the park, which was very fun and were able to get to the kids better. Also, they have split the whole group into 4 small teams and on my team its Danielle (UK volunteer) and Paola (Bolivian volunteer).  

So my schedule goes like this: on Mondays we are at Alpacoma the mornings making 300 pieces of bread with my partner Danielle till the afternoon. We start mixing all the ingredients and then kneading it for one hour. Afterwards we help the kitchen lady whilst we wait for the bread to be proved. Then we start making the dough into balls and pat them down on the trays for it to bake well in the hot oven. For me this is a whole new experience, as I have never made bread before, but it is very rewarding as the bread we make, go straight to the children and that our assistance is appreciated by the staff and children.  

On Tuesdays we work in two different centres, one in Villa Copacabana where we facilitate a lesson on Peace Culture to the teenagers and getting them engaged on ideas relating to taking responsibility in their life’s and being a better citizen in the community. Then in the afternoon, we are at Las Lomas centre with another group of teenagers. There we deliver sessions based on nutrition and having a healthy lifestyle, which we try and make it interactive and fun for them. Planning and delivering sessions can be quite stressful as you don’t have a lot of time to prepare but after doing delivering the sessions, you do feel pleased that it was successful and teaching 2 groups of teenagers is no easy task, as they can be distracted easily by their friends in class. 

My Wednesdays are very productive, as I am in Alpacoma again and there we are building a big greenhouse for the staff and children from scratch. The first couple of weeks we were digging up 6 deep holes so we can put the planks in and join them up. The other weeks we have been furrowing the ground and taking out the big stones so it becomes more fertile when we start planting. This week we were putting the plastic covering around the wooden structure so it will be waterproof on the outside. I am happy that we are making a difference in the centre and by the end of it the staff and children will be able to use it and facilitate future lessons with the kids in the future and I know they will take good care of it.  

Thursdays we are in the office in the mornings and we use this time to plan and get our creative juices flowing for our sessions the following week. Then in the afternoons we assist the Las Lomas staff in their community point sessions, which entails us going to a small community near the city of El Alto and take part in activities with the kids in the area and play games with them, which is enjoyable but also an eye opener as some of these kids come from quite poor families and having these sessions helps them to forget about everything and they just have fun with the other kids and us volunteers. 

Fridays, reaching the end of the working week, we come together as a group in the mornings and we are mainly in the office. Each team, every Fridays, has to give a Guided Learning session to the rest of the group. So last week, my team gave a session on Diversity and Working Together and we made our session interactive for the whole team and got them engaged to discuss ideas on the importance of diversity in the working environment and that we should respect other peoples points of views and cultures and also we got them to list characteristics which are important for a team to be successful, which went down really well with everyone. Also on every second Fridays we have Action Fridays which means that we split up into different groups and go help another project on a major event. So past 2 action Fridays I have had the privilege to go to Zebras and Best Buddies project and helped the team promote an event on human rights and also getting people to sign a petition that the government should increase healthcare budget from 6% to 10%, which gained a lot of movement when we went to San Francisco near the government building, which is like Trafalgar Square in London. 

So far my time here has been amazing and been able to do so much stuff that I wouldn’t be able to do in England, which is really rewarding and at times challenging as many of these stuff I am doing it for the first time. But I know these experiences that I have encountered has developed me as a person, just being surrounded by amazing people in the cohort and in my team and I know I can still grow more as a person. Bolivia is an amazing country and it’s a great privilege for me to be here volunteering in the country but also having a cultural exchange with the in-country volunteers and living with an excellent host family – Anita, Carlos and their 3yr old son Nico, who have taken good care of my health and well being; has enabled me to improve my Spanish and see first-hand how a Bolivian family day go about their day to day lives and that life in Bolivia for young people is very different to life in the UK. There´s so much to Bolivia but very little time to cover it all.  

Hope this blog has been useful for future volunteers and that you may also have a great time here in Bolivia! Just keeping smiling! 

By Mike Ratnasothy

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