Tuesday, March 17, 2015

From Barrow to Bolivia

Written by Stewart Fredericks
I have seen and done so much during my short amount of time here in Bolivia.
Firstly, I remember meeting my fellow twenty-four volunteers at Gatwick Airport. We were all very eager to get going, but not too excited about the entire day’s worth of traveling that we had to do before we arrived. Upon arrival in La Paz the altitude difference was immediately evident; it was a very strange experience but I soon adjusted to it and was ready to get going. Leaving the airport and heading towards La Paz, I was very surprised at the scale of the city and how well-developed it is in some areas.
The first thing we needed to do was head to the International Service office, from which we will be working for the next ten weeks. We were quickly introduced to our Team Leaders, Cooperantes and Host Familes; the host families are the people with whom all the volunteers are living with for the duration of our stay. My host mother took me and my fellow housemate, to the house we will be staying in. I have living in the centre of the city. Whilst travelling there, it immediately became apparent to me how vast and busy this city is, but I was pleasantly amazed. I met the rest of my host family and they were all very welcoming.
The first week was the induction week, which consisted of getting a greater understanding of project and generally what to expect over the next ten weeks. It was quite an intense week, we were given a lot of information in a short period of time.
I was introduced to the project I will be working on, which is Urban Agriculture with our project partners Focapaci. The project involves working in the maintenance and construction of greenhouses, working with women to empower them, educating children in nutrition through workshops, ands aiding the producers with the commercialization of the produce grown in their greenhouses. I was very pleased to be chosen for this project as I felt like I can really help in these areas, especially with the construction and nutritional side of things.

My first assignment was to create a nutritional chart, this chart contains information of what the vegetables grown by the producers are good for. I gathered all the information I needed on the health benefits and got to work uploading the information into the chart. A couple of weeks after starting the chart it was finished and ready to be printed. The plan is to have it in up to 100 greenhouses to help the producers understand the benefits of eating a variety of vegetables.
This cohort, our team were the first ones to host an Action Friday, which involves giving the volunteers the opportunity to get involved in other projects besides their own. During our Action Friday we took the entire group up to El Alto, the neighbouring city to La Paz, and the city in which much of our project work is focused. Throughout the day all the volunteers got involved in the maintenance of greenhouses of two producers. We made repairs to the roof, made a compost bin and filled the greenhouses with fresh soil ready to plant new vegetables.
Over the next few weeks I worked with one of the members of my team to create a nutritional binder. This contains more in-depth information about the vegetables in the nutritional chart. There's information on how to cook the vegetables, how to grow them, when to harvest them and what sort of temperatures they need to grow in. We are just about to get this complete and it should be ready for print soon. 

The workshops for educating children in nutrition have gone really well so far. We have created a card game for the children to play which introduces them to fruit & vegetables and the benefits eating these can bring. During these workshops we have created a puppet show. The story is about a sweet potato getting bullied by regular potatoes, whilst a carrot then explains to the regular potatoes why the sweet potato isn't bad and what it is good for. The workshops have gone down really well and it’s felt very rewarding to see the children enjoying them so much.


  1. Well done stewart.proud of what you achieved x

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