Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Joseph Lambert writes about the importance of work with the buddies

The first week was an induction week which included a taster session in both children with cancer and best buddies. Both projects are part of the broader volunteering and participation with inclusion project.The first session was the Best Buddies session, the theme for this cohort (cohort 13) is public transport and the first session involved a detailed presentation on how to address and interact with the disabled people. The day after that involved a useful tour around La Paz where we visited the municipal buildings, embassies and the famous markets around San Francisco.
The second taster session, which was the day after the tour. Was the children with cancer workshop which involved a presentation about the project. The survival rate for children with cancer is very low (around 30%) and volunteering with them often involved trying to make the wishes of the children come true. It also entails offering emotional support to the families who are suffering as a result of the cancer, as the cancer fractures the relationships within a family.  After that everyone was assigned to either best buddies or children with cancer.
After a slow start the Best Buddies project begun to accelerate, with a wealth of creative ideas planned for the coming weeks. The ideas include teaching them how to dance, paint and give introduce them to yoga. This will allow the buddies to creatively express their emotions and develop an interest in creative subjects. We wrote a letter to the famous painter SrMamani, so that he may give at least one free lesson to the buddies, giving them a massive highlight which they will always cherish. There are also plans to create a travel card for the disabled, as many of the buddies have been complaining about being extorted by bus drivers. By having a card, they would only have to pay one price for their journey, this will no doubt also increase their confidence in using public transport as well as make it easier for them. This will no doubt involve co-ordinating with a lot of unions and organisations, as well as researching the law, but with the right amount of effort, it could be possible!

At first, there was an initial slow start because the university where the workshop was planned cancelled everything due to it clashing with another class. As a result, we had to improvise and go to our team leader’s house then use the office as our workshop venue. There is a great expectation, amongst the group as we all believe that we can go onto make a tangible impact on our buddies’ lives or even the lives of the people with disabilities across the city. Teaching the buddies about the public transport is a massive step forward for them, as it will not only make them more mobile but it will increase their self-esteem and make them significantly more employable. Which is ultimately the aim of the project, to make sure that the buddies are included in society. 

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