When you volunteer with Up Close Bolivia you see hope and love everywhere
by Lily Milne
My first experience of Bolivia was arriving after a 24+ hr flight to Emma in her cosy pink dressing gown and instantly feeling part of the extended family. You get stuck in quickly, being shown around by Anahi and the other volunteers. I worked with the infant school, the kids club and down with the horses helping the amazing work down the that gives so much to family's and children effected by various disabilities. Although I have practically no Spanish everyone is so expressive that a lot can be picked up with expression and a little demonstration. My Spanish lessons helped, you can arrange to have these in Mallasa to fit in with the projects.
Up Close is a home away from home with the cosy houses and the local community that truly embraces you into it. Everyone gets in on all the projects and other initiatives such as the monthly pub quiz and yearly talent show. With mini committees and lots of meeting and group discussion for everyone's input.
In time away from the projects there is always something going on, the museums and tours of La Paz, nights out, fiestas in the villages and towns of the area (go, you have to go, they are amazing).
Of all the things you can experience, I think hope is one of the most amazing. Spending three months (March-June 2014) with Up Close filled me up with the stuff. You see hope and love everywhere, in the friendliness and open arms of the community, your fellow volunteers, the mothers at the infant school, the family's down with the horses and the kids that are the centre of all the projects. Hope for the future, for a better life, for learning and experiencing new things.