EARLY MORNING RUNS, SCORCHING HOT DAYS AND LATE NIGHTS!

The last two weeks have been a blur as they have passed without us noticing due to the busy schedules we had. Olympiadas, HIV workshops and lots of planning for the final event filled the timetables hardly leaving us anytime to take a breath. We had Olympiadas starting at 8.45 am in a different town which meant that we had to get up for 6.00 am so as to get to the local school and travel with them to the Olympiadas venue. However, I am pleased to report that we all sailed through it all successfully and welcomed a less hectic week we are having now with a smile.

Olympiadas comprise of four activities; spider’s web, sticky feet, passage to adolescence and death culture. All the stages signify different situations we encounter in life but we ought not to give up just because a situation is hard. The posts all had messages for the teenagers ranging from self-esteem to alcoholism and HIV prevention. The posts had case studies to put all the messages into context and analyse them. This was a great way to reach out to the teenagers as all of them engaged and fully participated. The Olympiadas are made possible by the collaboration between the Local government and PATSIDA. The government provides funding approximately 4500 Bs per day and PATSIDA comes up with the game ideas and the messages for each post.

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spider’s web

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passage to adolescence

IMG_0385   death culture.

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sticky feet.

HIV workshops are structured with a main focus on one of the main misconceptions and myths about HIV in Sucre, “HIV is not contagious”. This helps break down people’s stereotypes of HIV victims which ultimately lead to their discrimination and being rejected by their own communities. We also give talks about what HIV is, how it is transmitted and HIV prevention. PATSIDA has three main values that it uses for the prevention of HIV; Dignity, Fidelity and Abstinence. They developed it into a condom shaped box and introduce it as the new condom that promises 100% protection from all the 30 STIs in Sucre. They go on to say how it is sharable among friends and with anyone you wish which makes people listen thus successfully conveying the message.

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At the end of the two consecutive hectic weeks, we managed to fit in a social activity at the house of Eduardo, the incredible man behind the operation of PATSIDA. At the end of Saturday’s Olympiadas, we all piled into Eduardo’s van and we went to Yamparaez for a weekend off. We, the BRITISH volunteers managed to make a Roast dinner for all the team which went successfully well apart from the huge amounts of cauliflower that were left over because we discovered Bolivians do not really fancy cauliflower.

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Semana Cinqo

This week has thankfully been a lot busier than the last with team PATSIDA finally taking on our first workshop in a school. On Monday we became Bolivian radio celebrities as we were given a radio slot at the University. We took the opportunity to talk about all things PATSIDA and HIV. We even had Freya giving a scientific explanation of how the virus works when it enters the body (which was thankfully translated by Ruth)

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This week we have been giving lessons (the lessons we have planned and planned and planned since arriving)  at the Mariposa centre – a centre originally set up as a place of refuge for young girls that have been sexually abused, since then the centre also works with families from areas where abuse is common. The lessons were given to approximately 60 children and included lessons on friendship. This involved a puppet show to tell the story of the Good Samaritan which the kids loved – they even sat still long enough for it – a miracle! Other activities included explaining what words were ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to use when talking to each other, a game of the pass the parcel where each layer had a compliment that the children had to give to one another and making a bookmark for their ‘secret friend’.

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Wednesday we arrived at the office super early after securing a contact the previous day with a secondary school in Sucre. We were told to arrive at the office for 8:15am to La casa Panchos disappointment; this meant they had to leave an hour early in order to get to the office in time. Nevertheless we had a brilliant start to the day with all 11 of team Patsida ready and pumped for their first HIV/AIDS workshop in Sucre. With spirits high and the Brits having learnt their segment of the workshop in Spanish we got taxis to the secondary school. Upon arrival we were greeted by the director and after 10minutes of slight mix up we were taken to the classrooms. We split into 2 groups to deliver the workshops in separate classes simultaneously. Group 1: Jackie, Laura, Temi, Natalie, Freya and David. Group 2: Abril, Ruth, Joan, Beth and Daniel. With a mixture of confused, indifferent and excited faces we set up and delivered what we’d collectively consider as a brilliant first workshop.

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Wednesday afternoon brought our second visit to Yamparaez – armed with a new team name and a team cry we faced the 4 stations we’ll be leading during the Sports day events. Once again team PATSIDA struggled our way through Bolivia’s extreme team building exercises (we’re all still finding bruises…). Incredibly the different team building events were all linked to HIV, including having to carry our ‘dignidad’ on a tarzan rope from one island to another, needless to say some was spilt during the journey. Other activities include a spider web, escaping ‘death culture’ and walking on giant stilts.

Thursday means Mariposa and we went with our first lesson on the prevention of sexual abuse, this lesson involved letting the children know which parts of their bodies were private and which were public using a big drawing of a boy and girl and red and green lollipops. We then taught the children a song and got them to draw a door on either a picture of pants or boxers to show that their private parts are theirs and that they are in control.

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Friday morning lie in! After a week of 7am wake ups and a 6.45am meet tomorrow, we were allowed the morning off. In the afternoon we met to plan and refine our HIV workshop before going into a school near the Olympic sized swimming pool. We split into our two teams and delivered the workshop to around 60 15-17 year olds. Another successful workshop followed by well deserved hamburgers and papas frites!

Till Next time, Ciao!

With Love from Sucre! xXx

The day we discovered the term ‘Crepe Paper’

We all moved into our host homes a little under a week ago and to my surprise Ruth and I were placed with a family of 3 – the mother is heavily pregnant with only 4 weeks left before her due date.

Team Patsida were told about the surprise baby shower the church was planning for her, we were given the task of planning the event with our awesome British ideas. The Bolivian guys on our team did not seem too impressed but got stuck in eventually.

We planned activities and games and came up with great ideas, some of which included; smell and taste the nappy – with some interesting results, put the nappy blind folded on the bear, hang the baby clothes on the line etc.

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Once we had come up with the games, we wrote a list of materials that we needed to purchase for the games and decorations. As the family had told us they are expecting a girl we went pink Loca (crazy).

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This is where the blog really begins!!

All of the Bolivian girls and our team leader went to a meeting with one of the partner projects and so we were left with a list of not so simple things to buy; materials such as string, nappies, glitter and tissue paper. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Every female knows that going shopping with guys can be an absolute mare, but above all the greatest challenge we faced was navigating our way round a city we barely even knew.

The first thing was to get a bus into the city centre from where we were.  Secondly we had to weave our way through the streets of Sucre, first of all the guys decided to go to the bank and told us that they would meet us in the market. They tried to get out of doing shopping, but we girls did not fall for it. We found this to be the perfect opportunity to buy a cheeky ice cream before commencing the hunt for the materials. Oreo ice cream seemed to be the most popular choice followed by passion fruit or maracuya ice cream.

We all decided that it would be the most cost effective option to go to the market and so we did. With our 100 Bolivianos budget, we commenced the shopping trip. I spotted a pack of nappies and so David, being in charge of the shopping list, crossed it off, and in as much Spanish as I could say I asked him to “escriber quantos itemos” (write down) the amount we spend on each item – kudos to him for understanding my poor Spanish.

Next stop was pink balloons, this is where we made a complete scene. In an attempt to describe tissue paper to David and Daniel, we gave the market store owners a free comedy show. With all of them in hysterics at our attempt at describing tissue paper in Spanish  for a good 10 minutes, we were finally able to use body language and the texture of confetti to describe what tissue paper was. Unbeknown to us Bolivians call it crepe paper! The pin finally dropped, sighs of relief and claps of rejoicing. We were eventually successful and managed to purchase the balloons and “crepe paper”. Cheers to fabulous communication, perseverance and great team work! Till next time

Written by Temi 

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Camp Kewiña

On Monday morning we all piled into a bus, Bolivians and British merging properly for the first time, our bags were filled with hats, scarves and gloves despite the Cochabamba weather being glorious since we landed. We were not quite sure what to expect from Camp Kewiña- although we had been told that it would be cold.

Packing in a sunny England for this mysterious camp bought it’s own problems – did we really want to use up valuable suitcase space (and kgs!) for winter clothes, when all the weather forecasts for Bolivia told us that it would be sunny? Luckily, we took Tearfund’s advice and packed warm clothes, after our first night of sleeping in 2 tops, 2 socks and a hat we finally believed that being 3600m metres above sea level was cold.

The 2 hour bus journey to Kewiña was packed with team building activities – the bus itself was covered in elastic making even getting to your seat notoriously difficult. Other bus games included meeting a new friend and presenting them to the rest of the bus (an easy task until they announced we would be using each others languages…). We also gave each other a new hairstyle – with some interesting results!

Once we arrived at Camp Kewiña we were given a tour of the site before arriving in ‘Mini Bolivia’. This involved lots of dancing, gymnastic skills, singing and pretending to understand Spanish – a skill we will surely have mastered by the end of our 10 week placement. Kewiña is absolutely stunning and the view was definitely worth freezing for.

At camp we were awoken at 7am to fire crackers, music and even exercise sessions. Our days were filled with team building activities, allowing us to assess our skills and weaknesses (not surprisingly communication and language came up a lot as a weakness, thankfully our Team Leader Ruth has been wonderful and translates for us). One particularly challenging activity was getting the whole team from one ‘boat’ to another using only 2 planks of wood, once the boys had ‘drowned’ we didn’t really stand much chance and eventually the ‘sharks’ ate all of team PATSIDA.

Our ‘free’ time was filled with sessions on culture, health and safety and other important things delivered by Tearfund, however, our favourite part of Camp Kewiña was definitely the worship – we all have a new favourite spanish song ( the 3 lines we know have been repeated over and over again ever since)

During our time at Kewiña both teams held their own culture night! We had a bit too much fun with our UK night and introduced the Bolivians to all things Britain, including pass the parcel (filled with questions about the UK and forfeits for those who got them wrong), pictionary, pin the tail on the donkey, apple bobbing and the hokey cokey! Thanks to our wonderful ‘Kitchen Legends’ lead by the fabulous Emily we were able to enjoy a taste of home – tucking into Chicken Korma and Apple Crumble.

Bolivia night was filled with even more dancing (they are a nation of dancers!), food in the form of Silpacho and not to be outdone by the British and their pudding, a wonderful swiss roll type dessert. We also watched videos of the beauty of Bolivia and got a bit more excited about moving to Sucre!

On our last day we went out into the community to a school with approximately 500 students. Team PATSIDA was given the task of litter picking and weeding – seemingly an easy task until we realised just how much rubbish was to be found around the school. After spending the morning picking up rubbish the school looked a lot cleaner – however, unfortunately a lot more was found 5 metres down the road.

Thursday was national friendship day and we were all given a present from our ‘Secret Friend’. Some incredible things were magically crafted from anything and everything we could find at camp – leaves, wood and coloured paper! The efforts from the Bolivians were at a lot higher standard than our presents… they are clearly more creative than we are! Food was abundant at camp and we were even given snacks between meals – we were definitely not going to go hungry.

Our time at camp was inspirational and we have grown so much as a team due to our time there. Tomorrow we fly again – watch out Sucre team PATSIDA are coming for you. Natalie x

Hola de Bolivia!

Hola!

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Team Tearfund at Heathrow pre-take off

We have finally arrived in Bolivia after a very long flight – a 10 hour wait in Sao Paulo is not the highlight of our placement so far…

We arrived to many smiling faces, just what we needed to perk us up after our journey! We were also treated to possibly the world’s largest pizza, the start of many meals based around carbs – rice and potatoes and pasta are often served together in the same meal in Bolivia (goodbye to any hope of staying in shape)

welcome


Some thoughts since arriving in Bolivia from Joan –
Beauty, bonding and believing.

 So often we fail to recognise the beauty installed upon us by the Lord’s mighty hand through creation. Exploring Cochabamba these past few days has opened my eyes to what beauty is all about! Flying into Cochabamba gave us a taste of the shear beauty that lies within the landlocked country; Bolivia.

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With views of mountains in the background of the city, the water bodies lying gracefully at the foot of the mountains no one could deny the shear beauty of Bolivia. Cochabamba looks like a painting made by a mighty brush. Does not matter where you are, you are always assured of a great view of the mountains doting the city and sky line.

These past few days have also been great for team building. We did a lot of activities which included a walk around town, a visit to Cristo de la concordia, and more importantly the mighty food – we will not be going hungry any time soon, although we are worried about the low levels of English tea, sweets and chocolate within the team.

 The Cristo is the largest statue of Jesus in the world, taking seven years to build and being finished in 1994. It is very tall, tried to get a picture of its full height from bottom to top but failed miserably. It is not your normal statue, for you can actually go inside it. It has approximately 7 floors, with many spiral staircases and limited lighting. I tried climbing to the top of it but I am saddened to report the quest was not successful on my part although some of the team members (Natalie y Beth) managed to get as far as the armpits which is commendable.

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Team PATSIDA at Cristo

The Cristo statue holds great significance for Bolivian people as Bolivia is a largely Catholic / Christian country. Many people visit it everyday, this was made obvious as we had a 2 hour wait just to get onto the Cable cars!

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The view from Cristo – photo credit to the lovely Caitlin Collins

Tomorrow we move to camp Kewina  where more team building and orientation awaits. We are looking forward to exploring more of our new home for the next 10 weeks – but less excited for the cold weather and cold showers the camp holds…

Until next time,
Team PATSIDA x

Meet the team

¡Hola!

We are a group of 18-25 year olds volunteering with ICS Tearfund in Sucre, Bolivia. International Citizen Service (ICS)  is a government funded programme that gives anyone aged between 18-25 the opportunity to spend 10 weeks volunteering abroad, working alongside in-country volunteers on development projects (http://www.volunteerics.org/)

We will be working at a project called PATSIDA. PATSIDA focuses on HIV awareness and prevention, particularly in young people. PATSIDA spend most of their time out in the local community, holding events in schools, churches and public places. Work such as this is vital as rates of HIV are on the rise in Sucre.


This time tomorrow we’ll be sat at Heathrow eagerly awaiting our flight to Bolivia (via Sao Paulo), so what better time to introduce team PATSIDA and give you an insight as to why we applied and what we hope to gain from our time on placement:

Joan
Joan

Hola, bien venieda.
My name is Joan And I am one of many young people that go to overseas placements every year as part of ICS on a quest to learn, change and be changed by the challenges faced by many people in developing countries where they are placed.

So why take part?
Well we all know there is good out there in every single person’s heart. We all at some point in time have dreamed of changing the world. Well I am one of the dreamers and instead of letting it die in me, I decided to act! I have a dream of establishing my own charity when I am old enough and got enough money to finance it. Working with children affected by natural disasters and children from disfunctional backgrounds in Asia and Africa. So I decided to get some overseas volunteering experience Which would be handy for when I start my own and that’s how I learned about ICS and applied not knowing it was a start of a whole learning journey. I almost half way through the journey and I am looking forward to what the next part entails.

FreyaFreya
I am Freya, I’m nineteen and I’m from Canterbury in Kent. At the moment I am studying neuroscience at the University of Nottingham, getting to know how the human brain works. I’m really enthusiastic about sewing, cats and Jesus – they’re the big three but there are many more I could name.

I’m really excited to be a part of team Patsida this summer; hearing about the work that ICS Tearfund have been partnering with over in Bolivia has made me anxious to get stuck in. There is a lot I hope to learn over the next ten-weeks: to love and serve the local community, the ins-and-outs of international development and lastly some Spanish. I feel privileged to have this opportunity to experience another culture and maybe see some wild llamas.

I think the most challenging thing about our placement will be not drinking Diet Coke everyday – it’s my favourite. Oh, and being away from my family and friends at home too. I hope my faith will grow and as a team we will be able to encourage one another and form some amazing friendships.

TemitemiHola!! My Name is Temi, I’m 22 years old and smashed my £1500 fundraising target all thanks to my wonderful friend and family :D. I am currently a student at the University of Sussex studying MA Social Work.

I found out about this programme through searching relentlessly for volunteer programmes abroad (thanks Google)! I have a passion for Social Justice and really enjoy delving into new cultures, so I thought I might as well “kill 2 birds with one stone”. I literally can not wait to go to Bolivia and see the lives of individuals  and communities transformed through sustainable development.

I have no doubt these 10 weeks will be something to remember. and if anything I’ll come back knowing more than just “Hola” in Spanish 🙂

BethBethHi my name’s Beth and I’ve just finished my second year studying History at Leeds. I am so excited for this adventure and going and growing in faith.

I have never done anything like this before so I am expecting there to be challenges, but know that with God I am never alone! Although my Spanish is not great, I’m sure we’ll all be equipped to deal with everything that we need to.

I’ve been told that Bolivians love to dance and so do I so and can’t wait to have a little party and dance to those panpipes hits!

Natalie11081384_10152954719159681_1394509542512555720_nHi I’m Natalie, I’m 20 years old and have just finished my second year of studying Nutrition and the University of Nottingham (although amazingly I had never met Freya before!)

I applied to Tearfund because I would love to work as a humanitarian nutritionist in the future, and what better way to get started with some first-hand experience of life in developing countries? The work both Tearfund and PATSIDA do within Bolivia is so important and I can’t wait to be able to help in any way, shape or form.

Despite being absolutely useless at charades I expect to use a combination of miming and various actions during my time in Bolivia due to a lack of Spanish knowledge. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us over the next 10 weeks.


Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe – Hebrews 12:28 (NIV)