Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A month later

                                                                                                       Nazareth Mansilla Moreno

It has been a month since the 28th of September, the day in which we landed in La Paz. We were both excited and exhausted, but amazed at the incredible views of the city as we made our way to the office, where we met our families and the rest of the UNAIS staff.
The hospitality and kindness of our host families meant that we all started feeling at home almost straight away, which was useful considering the busy week we had ahead.
After the induction week and our first meeting with the Zebras, we started with our project. We all had a huge number of ideas and proposals which we wanted to carry out in the three months.
Our Project is somewhat special when compared to the others. Apart from Guy, Ellie, Claire and I (the UK volunteers) Mino and Luz (the in-country volunteers), and our dearest Team Leader Eugenia, we count on a group of 20 Zebra volunteers who work with us throughout our time here. Yes, you heard it right, ZEBRAS! The Zebras of La Paz, a group of young people that have the courage to fight for their city, for a cleaner La Paz, for a silent La Paz, and who dare to go into the middle of the roads and help older people and children to cross them. They are so loved and admired by the citizens of La Paz… and it is because their zebra skin (skin, no costume as they claim) is magical. Magical because it transforms the volunteers into urban educators, that work for the citizens of La Paz.
However they do not work in La Paz alone. This project bears the name of “Citizens of the World” and it is coordinated by the DCC, the Department for Citizen Culture, and is supported by the Local Government of La Paz. Thanks to them the zebras have gone beyond La Paz frontiers and can now be found in other cities, such as Tarija and El Alto.
You may ask yourselves where International Service is placed in this equation. Well, this last month we have been delivering weekly workshops to the group of 20 zebra volunteers about topics that are relevant to their lives and work as urban educators, such as noise pollution and human rights. Not only that, but we have also been working to create an educational module to raise awareness about noise pollution through the concept of citizen culture.

One of the activities we do in the project is delivering workshops to the Zebra volunteers to empower this group of young people as urban educators. Here, we are delivering the workshop "Rap and Self-Esteem", with the aim of promoting their artistic and creative knowledge.

In order to prepare this module, we have gone out to the streets to make a video about minibus drivers, with the objective of informing pedestrians about the hard working conditions of drivers and, in this way, to promote a change in pedestrian attitudes, based on respect and awareness.
The priority of this Project, at the end of the day, is helping the Zebras promote La Paz as a city without noise pollution, a city where citizens are more relaxed and share respect for one another, because the respect we have for each other is eventually translated as respect for Pachamama, a Bolivian belief similar to the concept of Mother Earth.
In this cohort, we will keep working to support the five pillars of the DCC, previously mentioned: La Paz without Noise, Safe La Paz, Clean La Paz, La Paz in Order and Aware La Paz. We will do this by painting murals, giving workshops to young people and drivers and with “the soundproof box”, a street-based project aimed at raising awareness of the extent of noise pollution in La Paz.
If you want to know more, then don’t miss out on all the action and follow the zebra’s footsteps via the new blogs still to come. Stay tuned, the Zebras will take you far!

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