Monday, February 9, 2015

Life in Bolivia

Written by Myles Apparicio

These first three week have definitely been some of most memorable of my life, starting off meeting all the UK volunteers at Gatwick airport having not seen them since meeting them all in York in November; airport food was the first port of call for a good catch up. After three flights and almost a day’s worth of globetrotting we arrived a very tired yet eager twenty-four UK volunteers in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia

First things first, we headed straight to the office, which is based very centrally in the city, and here we were greeted by our host families - a very warm welcome indeed. As we pulled up to the house in which I’d be living for the next ten weeks, I was somewhat surprised. I imagined I would be living below the poverty line with limited resources but this was very much the opposite. The bedroom I am sleeping in is bigger than my room at home and with an en-suite bathroom, and upon our arrival the smell of delicious food filled the house, alongside the other family members waiting for our arrival.

The first week is induction week, which consists of getting a greater understanding of the project and generally what to expect over the next ten weeks.

I am extremely pleased that I have been placed on the agricultural programme as back home I am a landscape gardener and this is right up my street and definitely something I have a good experience in. The only difference being that in Bolivia I will be working with vegetables as opposed to flowers.

Unfortunately after only being here for three days I had to go the clinic after waking up in the night with excruciating stomach pains. Whilst at first I believed it to be some sort of food poisoning, it turned out that what I was experiencing was appendicitis and I quickly needed my appendix removed. The health care provided by ICS and the local clinic was incredible and couldn’t have asked for a better service, which is obviously very important when in a different country.

Fortunately I made a very speedy recovery and was released three days after surgery; so back to the office I went to carry on planning out the next ten weeks, which I am really excited about. So far I have visited two of the producers that grow vegetables in El Alto, Doña Edurada and Doña Emilina; Edurada being the most developed of all the producers and Emilina probably the least, but both hard workers equally in need of assistance.

This last week, we had our Action Friday, the first of the cohort. We arranged a the whole day and split all the UK volunteers, in-country volunteers and the Team Leaders to split into teams. We set out to assist the aforementioned producers in various tasks from greenhouse maintenance to constructing a compost bin and personally I feel this day was an absolute success and gave me the upmost confidence for the following weeks.

Everyone is our team is so passionate and really keen to makes progress in empowering the people of La Paz and El Alto. With such an inspiring bunch of individuals of all ages it’s extremely hard to have a bad day mixing with all the positive attitudes, despite the mammoth tasks we have set out ourselves. Team Leaders Cameron and Katyussa do an amazing job of motivating us all and keeping a smile of all of our faces.

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