Thursday, February 20, 2014

Francine's Project Reflection

On the 8th of January 2014, 17 volunteers and I left our homes to go on a life changing journey to volunteer in Bolivia.
An introduction to Bolivian Culture and life

I wasn’t sure what to expect coming to Bolivia.  I didn’t know how to prepare myself for what I was about to see, or how I would react. Living in La Paz, I have found similarities between Bolivian life and that in the UK; there are restaurants and cinemas, breath taking scenery, growing tourism and a rich history.  At the same time, while at home there is welfare support available for families and people facing unemployment, the same sort of support doesn’t exist in Bolivia.  I´ve found it quite difficult to see young people from just 6 years old begging, and elderly women and children pleading for change.    
An introduction to my project

This is April, who turned 3 this week.  We had the honour of arranging her 
Birthday celebrations, which was a lot of fun!
On arrival I found out that I would be working with children on education programmes, as well as carrying out workshops on sexual health and nutrition with parents. There has been a delay in beginning in the centres, as the children are still on holiday, so in the meantime we have been preparing our presentations on Sexual Diseases and cancer, so we are ready to present to the parents when the centres open.

We have also been given the opportunity to work in Del Niño hospital, where we are supporting young children from 2 to 15 years old who have been diagnosed with cancer. This has proved challenging, as I’ve never done this kind of work before, however, knowing that I´m able to bring comfort to parents at such a challenging time has really made it feel worthwhile.  I´ve also loved seeing the children smile when we play board game and laugh when we read with them.  Being able to comfort them and make them feel safe and warm at this difficult time in their lives makes the work really rewarding.

 My impression

                                                            Children are like butterflies
                                                                 Born to fly and thrive
                                                                    Love and courage
                                                                   Is all that’s needed
                                                                      And that’s what
                                                                           Makes a

I wrote this poem about the children I have met in the cancer unit.  The children have been nothing but courageous and strong, and refuse to let themselves be held back. This week we said farewell to a friend who has made a full recovery and is now home with his loving family.

Written by Francine O´Connor
 Edited by Sarah Cassidy 

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