Wednesday, October 22, 2014


International Service in Bolivia is pleased to present their International Citizen Service cohort 10 team for the Strengthening Families project:

Cohort 10 team

I am really happy to say that we have been really busy and will continue this way during the whole cohort due to new challenges we will assume as a team and, if it works, the next cohort will also have plenty of work and opportunities to make lasting, positive change.

Volunteering with the Association of Volunteers Against Children’s Cancer version 2.0

This cohort, the team will be working with the Association of Volunteers Against Children’s Cancer (or AVCCI in Spanish), a committed group of young people that works to improve the quality of life for children who have cancer and their families and help them through the process they live during their treatment.

The Strengthening Families project had already been working with this group since January of this year, offering weekly visits to the Oncology sector of the Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital). After seeing the potential of the work that could be done there, it has been decided that the participation of the ICS programme needs to grow considerably there.

This cohort, therefore, we will be running a pilot where we will get more involved both in working with the children, but also with their families with workshops about different themes like healthy, cheap, tasty and easy to make meals that they can make for the whole family. This is especially important considering the special requirements the children with cancer can have. With this group (parents and siblings), we also plan to create other spaces where they can share their experiences and support each other through the process.

We will also be more active members of the association participating more in their activities whether it is to fundraise or to develop the other programmes they works with, such as fulfilling the childrens hopes birthdays and other events. In this way, the ICS volunteers will be more involved with the Bolivian volunteers of the Asociation Against Children’s Cancer and will be able to create a space for a knowledge exchange where we will be able to know more about which aspects of the association we could strengthen in the future.

The team in their first day at Hospital del Niño
The work with Aldeas Infantiles also continues...

This cohort the team will also be working with Aldeas Infantiles’ Strengthening Families Programme delivering sessions in three Children Centres that our partner works with on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia.

Our first activity with Aldeas Infantiles, the Ch’iti Olimpiadas (Olympics for children) where 600 children from 56 centres of all around the city showed their skills in the different circuits
These children centres are a really good (and possibly the sole) alternative for families from poor backgrounds to have their small children taken care of while they work. The pedagogy used, the quality (in terms of nutrition) of the food the children are given, and the love they get in these centres is a huge benefit for these families.

We are really lucky to be here in this time of the year because we get to be involved in all the activities Aldeas Infantiles organises to end the year with a bang. For this, we will be participating in activities with the Children Centres such as folk dance competitions, where over 50 centres will participate. Our volunteers will have the honour to prepare the dance that the children will perform (which means they first need to become experts in such dance), and maybe even dance with them if they get to the final, so everyone is excited and looking forward to passing through the semi-finals!

Our team will also prepare activities so that the children can present to their communities in the centres’ closing events at the end of the year.  We also plan to continue delivering workshops for the parents, this time about nutrition and promoting a healthy life at home for the whole family. Finally, we will also keep working on the microfinance workshops, which will extend to more centres.

Two different partners, one objective...

Although the Strengthening Families project will split time between two different partners who, at the same time, work with families with different stories, they do have something in common. Whilst they work with families that struggle with different problems, they only want their sons and daughters to have a safe, recreational space where they can be what they are... children; where they can grow and develop their talents and fulfil their potential or just play. This is what we will be working on, helping to create and maintain the spaces where the families feel more empowered to accomplish this right to be healthy and have a safe, warm and loving environment.

Written by: Ana Cossio Quiroga

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