Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hola amigos! by Laura Steen

So here I am, nearing the end of my fourth week here in La Paz, it’s mental how fast it’s gone, yet the thought of my life back in London seems worlds away.  Work has been slow paced as we have been without support from our partner charity (the charity leader has been replaced) but this has allowed for more freedom within our work, which is under the broad bracket of ‘citizenship culture.’  For me, this is a blessing in disguise as we have been working more in areas that I would want to go into career wise. For example, we have been planning workshops for childrens centres in La Paz which we will be delivering once they are back off their winter holidays (still can’t quite believe it’s winter here) and my group is focusing on sexuality workshops, which will (hopefully) encourage the understanding of and prevent discrimination against all types of sexual identities and orientation. To help put our workshop into a local and cultural context  we organised a meeting with a local LGBT liberation group ‘Adesproc Libertad’ which we had yesterday. Adesproc  have been running for 18 years, promoting the human rights and sexual rights  of all gender and sexual identities.

Their centre provides psychological help, legal advice, HIV tests and a library of information for the LGBT community, they also deliver talks to authorities to try and prevent discrimination within public services. They spoke with us about Bolivia’s attitude towards the LGBT community, which they said has come a long way, particularly in terms of legislation, in the last few years. However they said there is still a long way to go  in practice compared to the rest of Latin America as in many parts of Bolivia there is still a lot of discrimination against the LGBT community We found this hostile attitude first hand in La Paz when we conducted a survey in the local plazas – where a few of the people we asked either refused to answer the questions or spouted homophobic rhetoric for a few minutes. The meeting and the survey confirmed the need for sexuality workshops, which I feel should be a mandatory part of the curriculum all over the world (watch this space ;) haha)

We have also been working with an urban agriculture charity in Buenos Aires called Fundación Alternativa. The charity builds allotments, made from pretty much all recycled materials, for local families to grow their own fruit and veg in, which they cannot afford in shops or might not be educated about in the first place.

We have been building beds to grow the fruit and veg in, and helping out with the general maintence of the allotments. In the coming weeks we will be helping with nutrition workshops too. It’s a beautiful place to work, looking over the whole of La Paz, and the team are really easy-going and passionate about what they do, it’s well worth getting my hands dirty for….and when I say dirty I mean the paint is still on my fingers from last week (didn’tr listen to the warning about gloves).


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