Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A day in El Alto

The journey to work starts off with the teleferico, which offers beautiful views, it is surreal seeing this cable car system away from snowy mountains, though it is very much agreeable as it takes you away from the hustle and bustle of La Paz. Once the last stop is reached the city of El Alto seems to be ten times busier than La Paz could ever be. From the teleferico we must make our way to Ceja, the centre of El Alto to do this we take a minibus, which are only designed for small people, not including myself. 
Once we arrive in Ceja we walk through the market stalls selling endless items from candles to chicken feet. Ceja is undoubtedly the busiest part of El Alto, and from time to time we must race protests in order to get our next minibus out of the centre. 

This next minibus takes 30 minutes, sometimes these take us to our destination otherwise taxis must be used if we are helping a woman in a particularly isolated part of El Alto. Once we arrive at the producer’s house we are greeted and given the tools and instructions on what she would like us to do. What we do is enable these women to increase their income and improve their diets by growing fresh healthy produce, allowing them to become more independent and empowers them to become leaders in their community by sharing what they know.

So our hardworking team gets to work moving the soil, it is both grueling (thanks to the altitude) but thoroughly rewarding. Our task is usually to dig a hole 30 centimeters deep and then sift all the stones out and fill in the hole using the soil we have sifted alongside compost or manure, this task usually takes the whole day. 

Especially when the weather is taken into account, one thing we complain about in the UK is the weather, which I would argue is for a good reason as it is forever changing, could be raining and blinding sunny within the same morning, but lucky our forecast usually prepares us to some degree. However, in La Paz, there is barely any indication as to what the weather will bring, sun, clouds, heavy rain, thunderstorms is all included in a typical daily forecast. One day it a storm even graced us with hail, meaning we had to shelter for nearly a hour. Whilst this is frustrating it is just part of working outside.

The best part about this work is that you can see the progress, you may not see plants grow, but building a greenhouse or even digging a small hole is enough to see the small impact that we make to help these women’s lives.

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