Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bye bye baby! Let those zebra stripes shine

Written by: Karina Guzman

And here we go dear reader; I am writing the very last update of what could be described as a joyous birth. Please allow me to share with you this journey of nine months with the zebra-striped baby that I am about to leave.

It started as a mixture of joy, stress and anxiety and it continued to be hard work to the extreme; sometimes it seemed like there just weren’t enough hours in the day. And just like a baby this zebra project would keep me up for oh so many nights. I thought this day would never come, but without even a chance to catch my breath the time has arrived. 

The family that was created in order to support this endeavour has 70 members and is growing. But first let me talk about the latest additions: Alastair ‘Ali’ Carr and Sean ‘Edward Norton’ Fleming, two names that will be forever remembered.  Our team also consisted of Luz and Mino our well-known cooperantes, and me, Karina, as the team leader of the bunch. All our family have demonstrated an exceptional willingness to help our baby grow and we have all contributed to its development.

Step by step, our baby has started to take shape and was desperate to cry out loud its message ‘Feel the Peace’. To increase its voice, we have created many tools and toys for it. We started with visiting the public schools with our zebra brothers and charmed 637 children, showing them how to recognise and prevent noise, encouraging them to spread the message. Then, instead of a rattle we made a ‘box’ for it. Inside the box the noise of the outside could not be heard and the sky was projected inside so that the people who entered it would feel wrapped in calmness and would learn to appreciate the silence. Over 2,500 people shared the magic of the box with us and twice national TV came to interview us. When the baby felt like drawing, we grabbed a centric spot in La Paz and made a huge mural to remind paceñas and paceños (citizens of La Paz) to avoid the honk with a magnificent zebra design that will stay there for generations.

What the baby has enjoyed the most is seeing the smiles and enjoying the company of its zebra brothers with whom it spent lots of time sharing tales and knowledge; the bedtime stories went from aural health to rap, human rights and cultural exchange. This baby now wants to make their brothers proud.

And here we are, after 9 months, 6 lovely Brits, 3 endearing Cooperantes, 52 zebras and over 5,000 people reached.  You have matured! And what a beautiful thing you are.

Now is my time to express infinite gratitude to the family: our brilliant and inspirational partner, all of Las Cebras de La Paz, you have really changed La Paz and you keep changing it for the better. George, Beno, Gio, Joey, Ali, Sean, Mino, Luz and Majo. Your sweat and energy, knowledge and warm hearts will always be treasured. Well done team! Mission accomplished, we can be proud of our child, you have made a fantastic job and have left a footprint that will be engraved for good in the acoustic memory of the bowl city of La Paz!

We wish the very best to our child. I leave, sure in the knowledge that it will go on to sing and run like never before.  We’ll always be with you in spirit and you will remain as a perpetual set of zebra stripes in our souls. Thank you!
Luz Lanza writes:

These last three months the Citizens of the World team have lived an adventurous experience, as we boarded the train for happiness and imagination and share different activities with our group of Cebritas.

It was and it is a sea of ​​feelings, because our volunteers Sean and Ali were the Zebra spark that is always welcome in the team, as well as the Cebritas because they are so young they infected us with their spirit and joy. On the other hand Kari leaves a gap in our hearts, because life has decided that our paths take different directions and now she closes this cycle, but I'm sure she’ll never leave us.

We had great fun and enriching workshops, such as noise pollution and hearing health which were aimed to teach our Zebras the importance of knowing the care to our ears and of course to share knowledge about noise pollution.

We also had a very interesting workshop on self-esteem and rap with Mino, where we all got out our artistic side and together we made a rap that took a part of us; our workshop on Human Rights and International Development was primarily an exploration into the knowledge and values ​​that our Cebritas have, as we talked about ideals and shared utopias that I’m sure we all as young people share, our Cultural Exchange was a real challenge for us, since Cebritas made ​​a representation of the tradition of All Saints which was spectacular and we experienced a very nice time, Ali and Sean also gave us a good time on British culture and told us of the large amounts of tea taken in the UK, we had a memorable time all together.

On the way of this great adventure we lived together we built an isolation box which was hard but exciting work, but we made it happen by placing it in San Francisco and inviting people who walked by, to experience the feeling of peace amidst a sea of ​​noise and pollution in our beloved city, the more people came more excited we felt for our project since our goal is to make an impact on people and share the experience of feeling "a La Paz without noise".

When we were done with the challenge The Box represented to us, we also had the opportunity to beautify a wall of one of the most meaningful streets of the city, Arce Avenue; we painted a mural with the Zebras, along with the people of the DCC, these were two days of hard work but the product was a wall with a message that delighted all who pass by this place, because it is a way to keep our walls from being covered with paper and instead have a picture that emanates energy, happiness and pass a message of peace and quiet to our La Paz.

By the end of this cohort an essential part of our team is leaving and is very difficult to find the words and how to say goodbye, as Kari, personally filled me with inspiration and strength to join forces and fight for something you believe in, it has been six months of work, adventures and learning with her; always with a smile above all and being a body full of knowledge and willingness to keep going whatever the obstacle in front was. I know this is not goodbye, but a farewell full of appreciative feelings and much love towards our beloved Team Leader, I can only say thank you very much for painting in my heart the Zebra stripes the same way you have painted them in your own heart, you are taking a big part of the Zebra team, but with all that you have left for us I know that we can continue with the same force and predisposition you always gave us.
Now we are waiting for our new volunteers, our new Team Leader Euge, welcome to the team ... and let’s keep going for more.

Milton 'Mino' Muñoz writes:

In the nine months I've been working in the British international service I had a lot of nice and different experiences also had a lot of learning which in the professional field I want to thank my "team leader" Karina Guzman as the name says in Spanish; is the “lider del equipo”. She was able to demonstrate good leadership without imposition or authoritarian attitudes, she knew how to respect the opinion of team members through different cohorts, could appreciate the skills of each volunteer and worker, demonstrating the effectiveness of achieving objectives and positive outcomes for project through planning, and got results not only valued by our team’s volunteers but also from other projects. In the personal field Karina was a support in difficult moments for me. I can only say that I love her and I will miss working with her, but we'll see each other on the streets of “La Paz”.

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