Saturday, May 2, 2015

My last post, unveiling some truths.

It's a bit difficult to write this blog post. Difficult because these are the last lines that I will write in this work, this project, this blog. The one who writes is a latin american girl, who says what she feels and thinks, who is a rebel and dreamer.

When I started working in ICS, I traced two clear objectives. First, I had to change something positively. All of the projects by then looked like a good choice, a choice I wanted to study and understand in order to make from it something much more transcendental. Second, I needed for this change the commitment of those who came to give everything to make it happen. Understanding Bolivia and the "developing" world is something that can only be achieved when you live it, so the first contact with our society had to be one that would permeate into memory, leaving an indelible mark. It was my desire to try to show these realities, the real Bolivia and Latin America, showing the problems but also the beauty of being part of this continent.
It's been 11 months since I started in the British International Service as a Cooperante Técnico of Project SOS Villages, 9 months since I was invited to be the Team Leader of the Ciudadanos del Mundo (Zebras for a Silent La Paz) Project, but it feels like an infinity of time. I learned a lot from me and the rest of the world. Lifting the blindfold to see beyond the stereotypes I had about Europe. Understanding attitudes and cultures that seemed so distant to me, gaining patience and tolerance with coworkers, the partner, volunteers, myself. I strengthened my decisions, my character. I learned that everything has a solution and if it doesn’t, you have to invent one. Without really wanting it, I became stronger by taking responsibility for the mistakes or failures of others with whom we worked, which for numerous reasons were unable to assume them. I understood that the "right thing" sometimes doesn’t exist, and that is in the mistake were the truth lives, ours or other ones’. There were challenges, many, but I want to tell you about what I consider the most important ones.

The biggest challenge began in  Cohort 10, September 2014 with Ellie, Claire, Nazareth and Guy. It was a tough period of time for the noise pollution project and our partner. The political context (local elections) made it difficult to develop many of the ideas that had been proposed, the silence that we often promote, became present with our partner. We had the pleasant opportunity to meet our dear friends Zebras, young volunteers, dreamers, enthusiasts, unique people. It was wonderful, but our time with them couldn’t cover all the hours of work in the project. We spent a lot of time in the office looking for other alternatives that may follow the line of noise pollution. Many times our workshops were postponed or canceled. It was a difficult time, the end of school year were they were not accepting extracurricular activities, youth centers that were no longer attending, a huge disposition yet small possibility to collaborate.  To observe that the enthusiasm of your volunteers decreases and that frustration takes over is a burden of conscience that leaves no sleep. Not only because of them, but also for the fact that one feels that the objective to make a change in the community, even a small one, is not happening. I wondered many times what else could we do? When all that was allowed had reached a limit. When we less expected, the opportunity to work in Santa Rosa de Mapiri came to us. This is a community 17 hours north from La Paz, in Nor Yungas, where human trafficking, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, alcoholism and domestic violence are problems of a daily basis. Claire, Guy, Ellie and Nazareth worked tirelessly developing workshops on sexual health, drugs and alcohol. The experience we had there was something that has impacted on the lives of everyone. An important impact, that went beyond our comprehension. I will always be grateful for the fact that they believed it was possible to have another alternative. I thank you infinitely for daring to try.

Cohort 11 was the beginning of something new, a new colleague of dreams came to the project,  that also became a good friend, Chiara Cariddi. Together as Team Leaders, we worked with partners like Arco Iris and Alalay who work with street children in high risk situations. Lloyd, Joe, Anjali, Silvina, Lauren and Daisy had as a result a close work with these children, teenage mothers, girls who were at risk or had suffered sexual violence. Spreading a message of peace, noise pollution, human rights and self-esteem, we developed the workshops. The rewarding feeling we received this time is something that can’t be calculated. We went to teach, but we ended up learning more than what we thought. I had the great fortune to count with the help of Judith and Debbie, cooperantes with a big heart, that in moments of self-doubt or weakness were there to cheer you up and give above and beyond themselves so that everything could be in order. They have been an important pillar in this project, in a context that was still difficult for our main partner, so difficult that we couldn’t get to know more about the young Zebra volunteers or have workshops with them.

I'm in Cohort 12 with seven wonderful volunteers who are not afraid to face the challenges, and give more of themselves, more than what you ask them to give. Jack, Kate, Rowan, Kyran, Hannah, Danni, Madlen. I would like to thank them for being here, for believing in Bolivia. Thanks for taking on tasks without complaint, smiling. They are a fantastic group that has realized that the important thing is to create opportunities in benefit of those who may not have had them. They have also realized that it is not about having expectations, but to observe on a daily basis what can be done and what must change for the good of others and for oneself. They are a team that I’ll miss but that I completely trust in. The activities to be developed in this project, with the Zebras, drivers, hospital, patients, PEOPLE, will stay here, but all the learning and will that you’ll keep cultivating in the future will remain in this world.

The difficult political context came to an end. Our partner has shown the full interest and collaboration that we were expecting. For the first time I understood what being a young zebra is. I have enormous respect and admiration for these young volunteers, urban educators. Being a Zebra has changed their lives, and in turn, they are determined to change other ones in a positive way. They are "rebel dreamers", tireless people who has no shame and who had overcome fear. Young Bolivians that are going to change their society. I am happy to have met them more before saying goodbye to this project.

I have not forgotten the two goals I assumed when I first came to ICS, and I think that in one way or another, I've accomplished them. I feel that most of the volunteers I worked with and with whom I had a close friendship, have been able to perceive and live the reality that not everyone can understand. It requires to leave constructs behind, to have an open mind, to break the bubble, to permeate in memory. I truly hope it was like this, for all of you, Citizens of the World.
Wish all the success to Eloise Acland, a friend and Team leader, a great leader, hardworking, intelligent. I'm very lucky to have worked beside her this short period of time before leaving. I have no doubt that she will close the cohort with great success. Judith Valdivia, the tireless fighter, a pride of Bolivian women and the biggest support that ICS has given to me. In country volunteer, Daniela Sarmiento that begins this learning with a big heart ready to acquire a great professional and personal experience.
Eric Nadeau, thank you for believing in me. Kate, Pisus, Anita, Cameron, Katyussa, Jose, Alex, Chiara and all Team Leaders with whom we shared ideas and wanted to make positive changes. The other co-workers, cooperantes (Mateo, Ale, Carlita, Emma, Debbie, Adriana), volunteers, all with whom we share pleasant moments, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity, for allowing me, in my rebellion, to move out of the lines and go back to them, on and off. For the constructive criticism and shared dreams. It's a great family that'll  hold in my memory and heart,  forever.
Thanks to the DCC and Zebras for their happiness. 

To everyone, thank you for not being afraid of daring to try.

Let’s change the world, it’s possible.

I’ll be doing my best, I’ll see you all soon.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Changes are often not made in a loud, uproarious fashion.
    Even though I’ve not known from firsthand the projects you’ve been working on, the people, the cohorts, the problems nor the places; as a friend, I’ve had the opportunity to know about your own dreams, your efforts, your frustrations and your drive.
    Change -whether it is the change in a city or in the hearts and minds of young lads that come from the other part of the globe- starts with dreams, which, as dreams, at first can only be heard by ourselves. We have to communicate them, to translate them, to make them understandable, and hope for other people to share them.
    The struggle, against idiosyncrasies, against time, against our own frustration, might be a long one. Ironically enough, your struggle has been somewhat silent, in the middle of a loud La Paz (because, yes, La Paz can be loud as fuck itself). This change all of you have been helping to make is not the uproarious kind; it began in a quiet but at the same time tireless way, and always with a positive grin.
    So that when it becomes really hearable in the outside, it comes not as noise, but as a melody.

    (No sé por qué puse esto en inglés, ¡pero acabo de leerlo y está brillante!)