I had the opportunity to participate in 4 yearly meetings (SAYMA, NPYM, NWYM & PacYM) and the Friends General Conference [Gathering] this summer. My visit to the United States was for 9 weeks, during which I was in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, and California.
I start by telling you, that this visit was a challenge for me with some difficulties that I had. When I arrived I could not access my yahoo mail, where I had all the contacts or references, then I saw that my suitcase wheels had broken. The hardest thing was the poison ivy for 5 weeks, and lastly a severe cold for 2 weeks.
But you were always there:
Friends, the grace of God is very great because you were always there to support me when I needed it, in every place that I was.
From Friends World News, vol. 1 No. 179:
"Section of the Americas
...the Meeting of Representatives of the Section of the Americas was held in good order in Morgantown, Indiana from March 12-17, 2013...
...Saturday was a full-day workshop, part of our Living Water series. Cristela Marinez (El Salvador YM), Howie Baker (Ohio Valley YM), John Fitzgerald (Ireland YM), David Millar (Canadaian YM), Emma Condori (Bolivia Holiness Mission YM) and Rob Yurisko (Lake Erie YM) all had roles in the interactive program, utilitizing the readings and exercises in the Living Water Study book..."
Gaby Chambi Perca is beginning her ninth semester studying Agronomy and Animal Husbandry at the University of San Simón in Cochabamba, thanks to her own hard work and a BQEF sponsorship by a US family.
Last semester, Gaby’s section had a workshop on calf management. A lecturer from Argentina taught about life in the calf’s early days, and particularly the importance of colostrum for the calf. Gaby also had a practicum on the “Santa Maria” farm.
Model Organic Standards
In an earlier semester, her studies included a visit to the model organic farm in Pairumani, where she learned about the various machinery and implements used, and about the farm's strict organic standards which require, for example, that they not use seeds from foreign markets.
Hi, this is Gabriela Molina Valencia speaking about my news to Friends in other lands. I am delighted because the financial help has allowed me to study in the University. I am in my fifth semester, studying psychology. In 2011 my university classes just started on February 15. I'm taking social psychology and psychology in education, this semester only part time. I have to work every morning which basically functions as a practicum. My job is perfect for my career and it helps me with tuition. My practicum is working with 2 years old at the preschool, Happyland. I help the toddlers who haven't been away from their parents to adjust to a school. These young ones are still learning to speak their first language. Sometimes they cut their words, so I am using speech therapy to those who cut off or slur their words.
Through BQEF, Jeff Keith and I led a workshop about Bolivian Friends and Bolivia at FGC gathering 2012. During the workshop we looked at how Bolivian people struggled for centuries until the current goverment came to power. Bolivian Friends have sought well-being for the country by using education as a peaceful way to solve social problems and concerns in Bolivia.
Also I traveled to two different Yearly Meetings in the western US. At the North Pacific Yearly Meeting gathering in Tacoma, Washington many Friends loved hearing about Bolivian Quaker community. It was such a blessed experience to workship with them. At the NPYM "Quaker Fair" I shared about Bolivian Friends and about the story of the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund's work. I liked visiting with the children at this yearly meeting, talking with them and showing pictures about Friends in Bolivia.
It used to be that we had a hard time eliciting stories from the deeply modest Friends in Bolivia. Nowadays, as Friends emerge from centuries of oppression into the light of freedom, we get stories aplenty. There's such a richness of stories in fact, that our faithful translation volunteers are sometimes overwhelmed with the volume.
Would you love to give a bit of your time to help Friends in Bolivia have their stories heard and re-told? If you're interested in volunteering to translate letters or reports (often with fascinating photos included) from Spanish to English, please email me, Vickey, at office (at) bqef (dot) org, or use our website contact form here.
We hope to hear from you, and hope you'll soon enjoy hearing Bolivian Friends' stories firsthand.
We've talked about Magaly and Mabel's dedication to AVP work, particularly in prisons in Bolivia. We'd like to share with you a few more insights, from their joint year-end report to prison officials):
• [There is] great interest in the workshops by most people, as shown by their punctuality and participation from start to finish for the 2 ½ to 3 hr. sessions. In many cases people who have already taken a Basic invite others to take the workshop. In order to not leave their friends alone, they also attend some or all of the sessions and participate again.
• The environment in which we have been running each workshop has contributed significantly to the process of formation of community and trust among participants. With no interruptions [during the workshop], each can develop with confidence and gain a sense of belonging to the group they are participating in.
• The support of the Department of Psychology makes people feel more confident about participating in the workshops.
Magaly successfully defended her sociology thesis on the morning of January 30th, then left immediately afterward for an AVP Basic graduation in San Pedro prison.
She went to the AVP International Gathering in Guatemala in early October, and also attended the pre-session Community-Based Trauma-Healing Workshop. Magaly was quoted on her experience in the FPT Peace Ways newsletter: “I learned to remember what happened, to look at it with my heart’s eyes, and to recall the good moments. Also, to trust in my community and the capacity to express my most deeply hidden traumas in order to heal them.”
There were many at the AVP Gathering from Central and South America. They met as a region and chose representatives to a new Latin American Gathering Committee. Magaly agreed to serve as the Bolivian rep, which means she’s one of the people from 10 or more countries who will plan and organize a first Latin American Gathering. She’s since been in contact with folks throughout Latin America and is taking the job seriously.