Sunday, July 26, 2015

Reuben tell us about his experience in Best Buddies Bolivia...Language barriers, Las Lomas teacher’s session and Action Friday

Welcome to my blog for Best Buddies. We are now halfway through our time volunteering in Bolivia. The team is lucky enough to have a real mix of cultures: a Londoner, a Yorkshire man, a Scottish Ginger, Bolivians, and even someone from the Basque region. I hope this experience is enjoyable for you, you don’t get too bored, and that you gain an insight into the crazy lives we lead in La Paz.

Week 3 (commencing Monday 29th June) brought its own challenges. On this Tuesday we delivered a workshop which didn’t fully work. The buddies we were working with became disinterested and each task went on too long. I tried to signal and say that this workshop was not working but unfortunately due to the person delivering tasks in Spanish and not understanding my English this did not work.

A few days later on the Thursday while trialling what we were going to present to a group of teachers, the following day, it became clear that a few things did not work. Emotions ran high on this evening/night as frustration (and a lack of food) kicked in. Tempers ran higher than on an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. A brief night’s sleep and we were ready to present to a group of 30 teachers at Las Lomas Centre – a children centre which another project, Empowerment, often works within in conjunction with the charity, ChildFund.

We presented three different topics to the teachers: ‘What is disability?’ and myths, barriers and attitudes towards disability, and different types of disabilities. I and another person in my group, Joe, also helped present the conclusion to the workshop. I explained changing attitudes of disability over time and Joe talked about how the quality of life can be improved for disabled people. We finished this morning off by having lunch at Las Lomas Centre in a setting which I can only describe as a ‘last supper’ layout. This morning workshop went extremely well and it was clear as a group that we’d started to really connect. Friday was finished off with a ‘team building’ session in the office. Unfortunately we then had to say goodbye to one of our team members, Erik  as he was starting a job in a bank the following week. Erik was replaced by his sister, Erik 2.0 also known as Eve, who has settled into the group really well.

We had 2 of our most successful workshops with the Buddies on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th. Their knowledge of transport was developing and they already seem more confident speaking about transport and using it.

Tita, Joe, Kimmy, and I were then in charge of organising our Action Friday which was to be presented to people from different International Service projects about disability and our involvement in Best Buddies. We used some similar materials to the teacher’s session in Las Lomas centre the previous Friday. We held our Action Friday in Botanic Park, Miraflores and included: discussion points on disability, barriers and attitudes to disability, and different types of disability. After this a few of the Buddies joined us. We played games, ate cake, and some Buddies talked of their experience within Best Buddies. It was particularly moving when Caro, who we work closely with, thanked us mentioning: Joe, Sammy, and I specifically. Our Action Friday made me realise that we have already done some great work with the Buddies and our impact on disability awareness will only increase over the next 5/6 weeks.

Perhaps one day we will have a ‘normal’ day in La Paz – though this looks unlikely for now.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

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