Monday, July 27, 2015

Anisa's blog

Week 5 has come to an end and cohort 13 is officially halfway through our time here in La Paz. The constant highs and lows (literally and figuratively speaking), weekly news of bizarre ailments in the group and surprisingly, the manageability of the city’s intense transport system, have all added to the experience. La Paz, though dizzying in every respect, is just as inviting, homely and absolutely captivating. From the touristy streets of San Francisco, to the hiking trails and calming Plaza’s slap-bang in the middle of major junctions. Our Bolivian experience though, would not be complete without our host families – who have wholeheartedly adopted us as their own – many accompanying us to our innumerable hospital appointments, blessing us with their unfaltering cooking skills (S/O Mama Rosanna) and the non-stop demonstrations of love.

The Zebras are currently experiencing some difficulty with their partner organisation and thus, as a group we’ve begun to move away from noise pollution and towards the promotion of greater citizenship. This would naturally incorporate environmental pollution, but also includes the acceptance of sexuality, the confrontation of gender roles and a campaign recognising vulnerable communities (including the Afro-Bolivian community). In par with this and in association with ‘world population day’ on the 11th of July, we decided to plan an event. The idea was to create two tents, one representing a ‘hopeful’ tent and one representing the inside of a refugee tent. The hopeful tent allowed the citizens of La Paz to write down their hopes and expectations for the future and plant sunflower seeds as a symbol of growth/development. The other tent perfectly represented the lives of many vulnerable refugees around the world. The citizens were able to walk around the tent in order to fully understand the fate of many refugees around the world. This approach aimed to educate and inform individuals and thus invoke passion for the greater cause of citizenship.
As ‘Ciudadanos del Mundo’ or Citizens of the World, our work has extended into the realm of agriculture and for the past few weeks, we have worked with ‘Fundacion Alternativa’ a non-profit organisation which educates and encourages the local community to produce their own fruit and veg. Though extremely difficult, the management and staff are so welcoming and hospitable, that it is often impossible to slack. This often means that with extra helping hands, a whole lot more is accomplished. For example, we’ve been involved in the construction of large flower boxes, so families can begin planting and the shifting of 50kg sacks of soil – on our bare backs – down the steep hills of the fundacion. Hard-labour is divided into two by a midday ‘apthapi’ – essentially a communal lunch whereby everyone involved brings a dish to share.  This may just be the highlight of our day!

All in all, our experience so far has been absolutely incredible. With or without, the daily struggles and disappointments, the next 5 weeks will undoubtedly surpass our expectations.

Anisa Yusuf 

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