Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Planting seeds

As a volunteer you wish to do everything you can to make a difference and help the people on your project. In your mind you often conjure up grand schemes and initiatives which you could put into place to change the situations of those who are suffering. You believe every day you will be doing something to make a difference and see the outcomes often straight away. However, I have come to realise over these five weeks in Bolivia this is not the case.

Being on a new project requires a lot of patience. You may have grand ideas but I have learnt you must be prepared to adjust them or have a plan B, C or even Z as often things do not go to plan and will be cancelled last minute. Of course this causes a lot of frustration, but it is important to remember you are dealing with everyday people who have their own problems and may not need your help one day or be able to accommodate you. We are not going to achieve Women Empowerment overnight, instead the small steps we make through helping a woman create her own vegetable patch to sustain her household or from teaching women about topics such as self-esteem through workshops will plant a seed in their minds on their importance as a human being and hopefully inspire them for the future.

This week we started work in a new producer’s home where we had to dig up the soil in order to remove rocks to create earth which could be used to plant crops. This structure was much more advanced than the previous producer’s houses we have visited. They had their own greenhouses set up and plants already underway. Despite the humid conditions we made great progress by effectively working as a team and being aware of each other’s needs – swapping jobs when people became tired and taking regular water breaks to keep everyone feeling well. It was great for our team to see how our work can advance from digging small patches of earth for one family into a large scale project to sustain a larger group of people.

The kindness of the various producers we have encountered along the way has been overwhelming, with them going out of their way to provide us with homemade food, drinks or soda. These gestures help keep up team morale and their gratitude at the end of the day makes all the hard work, often in sweltering conditions, worth it. We will not see the large scale outcome from the work we do in our project, but once we end our time here in Bolivia we will know that we have made an impact to these women’s lives and have helped them and their families create better futures for themselves from those few seeds we planted.

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