Creatively Changing Lives

by Monique
(United Kingdom)

Some of the great little friends I made in Bolivia.

Some of the great little friends I made in Bolivia.

I lived in La Paz in 2002-2003 and on my return to the UK was inspired to start my own not for profit volunteer organisation called Creative Corners - The Global Arts Project. You can read about it right here on BoliviaBella.com and link to my site from this page:


(www.boliviabella.com/creative-corners.html)

I now specialise in sending volunteers to run arts education projects in homes, orphanages and with disadvantaged children and raise funds and resources for the projects I work with.

Living and working in any developing country can be a big culture shock. There will be lots of new sights, smells, new food and interesting public transport to deal with. Here are some highlights from my experience while volunteering in La Paz Bolivia. These are some paragraphs from emails I wrote home:

I was exhausted - a 25 hour 2 leg flight takes it out of you but all tiredness was soon forgotten as we approached La Paz and we seemed to ascend to land- well almost at over 4000m, El Alto Airport is one of the highest airports in the world, - the view took my breath away, literally, I was struggling for breath after lifting my luggage onto the trolley but it was so exciting to meet my host family at the airport who had a big Welcome to Bolivia sign and were so immediately welcoming with lots of hugs, smiles and kisses!

The altitude is quite something and in the first few weeks even cleaning my teeth left me huffing and puffing like Id just run a marathon! In the mornings even having a chat was a workout and I would have to pause for breath every 3 sentences or so! It didn't help that the city is set in a canyon and every street seems to be a 100m ascent - oh the pain.

The volunteering has been great and I have been working with local street kids running music, drama, art and craft - we travel around the city to various street areas and set up creativity and expression activities. And every 2 weeks I travel to a rural village for similar activities which has been absolutely amazing. Last week I had a group of 24 little kids between 1 and 7 with who I painted made pasta jewelry and plastic creations! It was fun and the kids find my beginner Spanish hilarious!

I live a little out of town so I catch a micro bus to and from the city every day. I'd say these buses and taxis make up 90% of the vehicles on the roads. They scream round corners with a young boy hanging out the window yelling the destinations as many people can't read the names of places handwritten on the windscreens. You flag it down and cram in with loads of people and kids and just tell the driver where you want to get off by saying Voy a Bajar! Its a door to door service for just 15p - can't beat that!

The city definitely has loads of character and the views are just stunning, snow capped Andes, incredible mountains, the Chola ladies in their traditional dress and all the women carrying their babies, animals, food and all sorts in brightly coloured South American style pieces of material on their backs. I am really loving it and taking in all the sites, smells and situations and so far have been lucky enough to avoid the robbings, parasites, worms and salmonella - touch wood!!!

The other night I was out waiting to meet friends at a Plaza I do workshops at every second weekend and lots of little street kids recognised me, came to say hi and grabbed every free limb I had and failed to let go - crying 'Hola Senorita, when do we paint again?, Senorita, remember you played ball with me! Its' these little moments that make you get those warm fuzzy feelings that make you feel great being here!

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Comments for Creatively Changing Lives

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Apr 07, 2008
Thanks
by: Sharon

Thanks for writing, it was wonderful to read. Bolivia can become home very easy with the friendly people every where you go.

Apr 07, 2008
Spreading God’s fragrance throughout the world
by: Rick Jackson

Bravo, thank you for catching the spirit of Bolivia and the spirit of giving. Please continue to spread God’s fragrance throughout the world.

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