Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Looking back: a reflection on Cohort 14

 As we enter the last week, emotions are mixed as. There is satisfaction as we look back over the work we have undertaken, and everything we have achieved; there is happiness, as we realise the strength of the bonds we have forged with each other; there is excitement, as we look forward to heading home to our families for Christmas; and there is sadness as we get ready to leave Bolivia and the friendships we have made. However, our sadness is somewhat negated by the memories we have made and the knowledge that we will see the British Volunteers again at the reunion, and hopefully the Bolivians at some point in the not so distant future.

We have spent a lot of time looking back at what we have achieved, and this has given us great satisfaction. The impact of our work is clear to see, particularly with regards to the construction. The greenhouses we helped build, and the numerous vegetable patches we have dug, are a clearly identifiable positive impact of our work. The women who we have worked for have thoroughly appreciated our efforts, and we can be sure in the knowledge that our work will result in their diets being supplemented by the nutritious vegetables they will grow, and hopefully they can successfully sell their products at market and begin to make a profit.

Our construction efforts have been reinforced by the workshops we have undertaken, and these have had both the intended and also unintended results. The commercialization workshop that we conducted will provide the producers with the necessary skillset to sell their products at market, and will create a crucial income for these women, some of whom are among the poorest residents of El Alto. The Gender workshops have also been incredibly successful, as we have helped women become more aware of their rights, and no doubt they will start to notice their rights being abused. These changes are small, but they are necessary and important, and will hopefully become a piece in the wider puzzle of positive change in Bolivia. We have also been fortunate enough to take part in two gender fairs in San Miguel, which allowed us to actively engage with the wider community, making them more aware of the terrible inequality that cripples Bolivia, and also making them aware of the work that International Service undertakes, and we believe that these are positive changes.

As the ICS funding ends here in Bolivia, it is naturally a time of change here in the International Service office. Although we are to be the last British volunteers here, the solely Bolivian volunteers who will replace us will contribute to a wider movement of sustainability within South American development. It is our sincere hope that these Bolivian volunteers will see the benefits of the work that we have undertaken, and will no doubt continue our work, contributing to the wider, positive social changes that are taking place all over Bolivia.

Harry Rogers 

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