Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Growing with Agricultura Urbana

It seems scarcely conceivable that we are 8 weeks in and have already completed over ½ of our spell with Urbana Agricultura in La Paz, Bolivia. Although 5 weeks may seem a short period of time retrospectively, our accomplishments thus far have been substantial and we are wholly absorbed in the work of our project. The varied nature of the project tasks has provided us with the opportunity to exercise a broad variety of skills, from practical physical tasks to informative educational workshops.
Our weekly schedule entails 2 days in El Alto, working practically to provide families with access to ecological foodstuffs whilst supplying them with the practical knowledge and skills to make their access sustainable.  For example, last week the whole project group worked collectively to assist in the construction of a greenhouse with a producer of APRODAMH. This was a profoundly rewarding experience (despite our lack of hygiene and tender limbs), as it allowed us to see the tangible results of our efforts, a characteristic of our project work which is notably gratifying. In addition, we are granted the opportunity to develop a relationship with the producers and their families, giving us an insight into their background and allowing us to appreciate the significance of our support.

 Later that week I assisted Best Buddies with the delivery of a nutritional workshop for the parents of children living with a cancer diagnosis. My presentation was focused on the benefits of physical activity with relation to cancer, and how parents can support their children to overcome exercise barriers (such as side effects of treatment) through motivation and encouragement. Following this some members of the Best Buddies team delivered a presentation about healthy diet for cancer survivors, which contained valuable information regarding accessible, nutritional food. We then invited some parents to make a healthy smoothie consisting of papaya, banana, watermelon, avocado and mandarin (¡Que rico!). The parents seemed sincerely interested in the information provided, demonstrating a desire to apply some of the knowledge to facilitate the nutrition of their children.

This was my first presentation in Spanish, something which I believe I may have struggled with before, yet I felt relaxed and comfortable. Having the opportunity to live with a host family has considerably improved my capacity for the language, as has working in our project group, where we conduct the majority of our discussions in Spanish. Our group consists of team leaders Katyussa and Kasia, cooperantes Alejandro, Carla and volunteers Michael, Florence, Bronwyn, Chloe, Anna, Mariela and myself. We have benefited substantially from the broad range of backgrounds and I feel there is a great rapport among all members of our project team. Also, having access to the cooperantes has helped significantly with our integration with Bolivian people and culture, as they have a great deal of knowledge and experience to share.
So as we enter the concluding chapter of our venture here I trust that it will be every bit as enjoyable as the first, and I intend to take advantage of every opportunity in the few weeks we have left. I feel exceptionally fortunate for the opportunities I have been granted here and will carry the memories forever.

Ha sido un placer, Bolivia!

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