Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hola Chicos

Every Monday morning, the weekly dismal  feeling returns, knowing that we are yet another week closer to finishing our stopover in this truly amazing country. Too much to do, so little time!
I had been tasked to the Urban Agriculture team, a project that aims to oversee and assist vegetable production in El Alto by working closely with the producers themselves and our project partner, Focapaci. You cannot help but be taken aback by El Alto itself. Both heart-warming and unnerving in equal measure, this city of extremities has opened my senses to the anxieties vegetable producers can face in such a difficult environment. Our team, bound together by laughter and a generous serving of elbow grease, not to mention our two fantastic team leaders, Kasia and Lorena, we make every effort to help in any way we can.  

We now enter week six, and have already conducted various workshops in nutrition and gender equality, by working with producers and their children alike. Whilst as a group we collaborate closely with each other, each individual has assumed a leadership role in one of four areas; commercialisation, nutrition, construction and strengthening the links of APU. (the group of producers that we have been working with) Imogen and I have taken a prominent role in commercial aspects of the project. From areas of social networking to promoting the weekly ecological fair at Casa de los Ningunos, 

I have developed skills that I had little familiarisation with before I came to Bolivia. For example, this week we have helped prepare and promote a promotional event that will take place on Saturday in Plaza Avaroa, a vibrant area of the city, which is likely to bring much welcomed attention to the functions of APU and ecological vegetable production as a whole. Personally, this is a great chance for me to exercise my Spanish that is steadily improving in a professional but relaxed environment. When not faced with the administrative duties in the office, we are usually being handed a pick axe and shovel to construct ecological greenhouses in various locations across El Alto. For myself in particular, I relished the chance to get stuck in and work up a sweat, despite them calices becoming ever tougher. My dad will be so proud! 

On a more general note, I cannot speak highly enough of this beautiful, diverse, colourful and well-intentioned country that I have been given this opportunity in whilst surrounded by a great group of people. My personal experience has been more than grand. Located in the pretty southern neighbourhood of Obrajes, I now live with Marcelo, Isabel, Lucia and Santiago, a brilliant and equally friendly host family whom have helped me and James settle into life here so quickly, attending to every need.  I for one will be sad when it all ends and I urge anybody reading this blog that is pondering an opportunity like this one to absolutely go for it! Sure, the altitude, the scorching sun, the chilly evenings, the countless hills and the language barrier may plant a seed of doubt in one’s mind, but these are merely a drop in the ocean when you reap the rewards and warm experiences during your time here. As long as you arrive with an open mind, positive attitude and plenty of sun tan cream, I’m sure you will be just fine.
Onwards and upwards!


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