Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let's see where this takes us!

By Ellie Kimber

We’re  currently in our nineth week of working with the Zebras and I can safely say that we’re amidst a very exciting time. A lot is changing in the Zebra Project, and recently we’ve been in-fluxed with masses of new opportunities and ideas.

For the past five weeks we’ve been delivering our weekly workshops to the zebras on a number of topics such as human rights, noise pollution and self esteem. The zebra’s enthusiasm never fails to amaze me, and it’s been great getting to know them and gathering a better understanding of their work on the streets of La Paz. They really are a big part of life here, and it’s hard not to smile when you see them working on the streets, guiding pedestrians across the road and telling off drivers when they don’t play by the rules.

Giving our first Zebra Workshop

We’ve also been developing a new educational module with the aim of changing attitudes towards noise pollution through promoting cultural citizenship. This has allowed us to diversify what we teach, taking the workshop’s main focus away from noise pollution and encouraging students to think about attributes such as respect and punctuality (I can’t explain to you how big of an issue timekeeping is here, a lot of people operates on a different time scale entirely), changing their approach towards their city, their relationships and their life. As part of this module we have created a short video ‘A Day in the Life of a Driver’, in order to change perspectives towards drivers, prompting students to take more responsibility for the part they play in creating the chaotic environment on the roads of La Paz. 

We spent two days filming two minibus drivers, interviewing them about their experiences, how they would like to see La Paz change and the difficulties they face in their day to day life. For me this has been a particular highlight and surprisingly eye opening. As a city, La Paz’s roads are made up of what I can only guess to be over 80% public transport, from overcrowded micros to hasty trufis (a type of public transportation, similar to a tai but with a determined route), and it’s easy to forget those behind the wheel and the stressful conditions they work under.
One of the local schools in El Alto at one of our Action Fridays
And if all this wasn’t enough we have recently conducted a Driver’s Diagnostic, in which we took to the streets of La Paz asking drivers  (at red lights) a questionnaire on noise pollution and traffic order. Our aim is to use this information to construct  yet another workshop specifically for the drivers, hopefully targeting noise pollution right at its source.

Zebras Patrolling the Streets of San Francisco
With all this in the running it’s easy to see why the past few weeks have flown by so quickly. Despite being incredibly sad that we’re already half way through, I’m so excited to be on this evolving journey and I’m deeply looking forward to seeing where it takes us.

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