Thursday, July 24, 2014

Avanzando Juntos

I am delighted to welcome and introduce our cohort nine volunteers, who will be working with us on our Strengthening Families project with International Citizen Service in La Paz, Bolivia.

Rebekah, 22, has great experience working in childcare and child protection, and will be working with us to strengthen and develop our microfinance project.
Budz, 22, is looking to utilise her knowledge and experience working with social and community development to engage the community in our sexual and familial health campaign.
Joanna, 22, has been working backstage in theatre and will begin a degree in International Politics upon her return to the UK.
Keya, 19, has recently finished her A-levels and a role on the youth advisory panel at Plan UK, and will be starting her degree in International Development in September.
Fran, 22, recently graduated with a degree in Spanish and Human Rights, is particularly looking to support the project towards comprehensive empowerment for women.

Team SOS: Keya, cooperante Eugenia, cooperante Debbie, Budz, team leader Desi, Rebekah, Jo and Fran

The project will continue to be supported by our cooperante on sexual and familial health, Debbie, with her fantastic ability to engage all who attend our workshops and facilitations on these sensitive issues. I am furthermore delighted to introduce Eugenia to the project, who will be bringing a wealth of experience in microfinances and community-based initiatives to our new microfinance project area.

We will be enacting Ludoteca in the work of all five volunteers with this group, whereby all will follow the Ludoteca educational methodology in putting together their lesson plans. In this way, the group will work to produce a coherent series of lesson plans for delivery in the volunteers’ respective centres. Based on previous results and new research the team will be continuing the implementation of cohort eight’s geography module, building on key themes of cultural identification and the empowerment that comes along with it. We are also planning to design a series of sessions looking at the key themes and intentions of microfinance as a directive. By introducing the children to the ‘value of money’ and a ‘spectrum of need’ (through appropriated and interactive games!) we hope to comprehensively capacitate the family with the means to communicate over this often contentious area.

With an eye on sustainability and long term developmental impact, we will be working alongside educators to capacitate them with the tools and skillsets relevant to the modules, as we go.

Strengthening Families: Fortalecimiento Familiar
With cohort nine we will be implementing a significant change to the Strengthening Families project, whereby we are expanding beyond a focus on sexual and familial health, incorporating microfinance as a project area for the team. Whereby the Strengthening Families initiative projects that a child’s development is best made possible in a coherent family unit, our work derives wholeheartedly on supporting all recognised elements to make this possible. The project therefore embodies a coherent and well-rounded strategy on empowering the mother role within that family, with a trajectory of self-capacitation for long term practicality and sustainability for the community and its individuals.

Cohort nine will continue to expand the awareness work of previous cohorts, taking a focussed approach to three major health issues which affect the communities we reach: cervical cancer, breast cancer and anaemia. We now have fantastic resources and materials produced by our team in cohort eight, designed and collated utilising techniques of delivering sensitive information, methods of best practise for community engagement, with an appropriated strategy of awareness work within these contexts. Logistically, the campaign will move towards working with local health centres, to create clear connections with local healthcare providers as to enable an accessible support network for families within their communities and barrios. We hope this will allow us to solidify the campaign in the form of a ‘sustainable package’ to deliver to Aldeas Infantiles SOS, to be rolled out in all centres in La Paz.

Underpinning this approach to sexual and familial health is our objective to capacitate a healthy community, through healthy family units. We strongly believe that across all work in sexual health is the need to recognise the integrity of the body, and take an approach to all themes within this area which incorporates matters of self-esteem, to enable a sense of comfort and recognition within oneself. We hope to come the full circle with our work, and will be thus be aiming to capacitate parents with the language and tools to discuss related issues of the body with their children.

Debbie, Desi and Eugenia

Our microfinance project aims to empower women and their families in relation to financial independence, looking at best modes of managing domestic and household finances. In further aiming to strengthen the family unit for the benefit of the child, we work to familiarise parents with financial processes and relevant issues. It is however, crucial that we approach these issues with a sensitised methodology, and thus attempt to overcome a common level of discomfort when discussing money matters. Considering the emotions initiated by money and finance is therefore at the core of our approach, and we use well-researched activities, language and style to engage all present at our workshops, and recipients of our materials and guides.

This cohort will take a conscientious look at how best to enable confidence and comfort in relation to financial issues, and subsequently develop our model for finance workshops to embody this. We are also hoping to complete and finalise our microfinance booklet, aiming to be able to publish and distribute this over the coming months.

Associación Voluntarios Contra el Cancér Infantil
Our volunteers will also be continuing with our visits to the paediatric oncology ward at the children’s hospital in Miraflores, working with the coordinating charity ‘Associación Voluntarios Contra el Cancér Infantil’. We hope to carry out activities incorporating art therapy, both for the children and their parents. We also have plans to host an event for children on the ward as well as survivors.

I have been greatly enthused by the passion and interest of Joanna, Rebekah, Budz, Keya and Fran thus far, and am incredibly excited to see the implementation and outcome of their efforts.

Written by Desirée Benson

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