News

Two Women, Three Prisons - Part 3: Commitment

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Nelly Huayahua, Magaly, and a new AVP San Pedro graduate

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.

Two Women, Three Prisons - Part 2: Creativity

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Magaly and a Community AVPer Doing the Graduation Dance

We introduced you to Magaly and Mabel in Part 1, here. Now we'd like to tell you a bit more about their creativity and resourcefulness in nurturing Alternatives to Violence Project workshops and participants.

Two Women, Three Prisons - Part I: Courage

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Magaly and Mabel share a quiet moment lakeside

Sociology graduate Magaly Quispe is a former BQEF scholarship student who initially visited San Pedro Prison for her thesis research.  While she was there, she thought about doing AVP and asked for permission from the people in the social department - who said “Yes!”  Magaly convinced some of the other local facilitators to come in and help with the workshops, including her friend Mabel Mena Fonseca (also a BQEF scholarship student), who started out by helping with logistics – snacks, supplies, etc.

Women and Political Influence in Bolivia

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Bolivia is the first nation in the western hemisphere where both houses of the parliament or legislature are now headed by women.  This kind of dramatic social progress further inspires our work in support of educating and encouraging women in Bolivia.  Six of the 20 members of Evo’s cabinet are women.

Not parity yet, but headed that direction.

eta: Bolivia ranks 35th globally for women in the national legislature, compared to, say, the U.S. at 71st. See chart here.

"It was one of the high points of my life."

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Sponsor Barbara Stanford and student Janelle Aspi share a post-music moment.

The Joys of Sponsorship

When my aunt died, she left my mother a small legacy.   We decided that the best way to honor her memory was to sponsor a couple of Bolivian students who shared some of her qualities—a love of music and a love of children.

After corresponding with our two students, I had the great pleasure of going to Bolivia on the Quaker Study and Service Tour and meeting them at a potluck the entire group of scholarship students hosted for our group.  Maritza greeted me warmly and tried to explain to me about her curriculum in linguistics and teacher training. Janelle came in later with her Christian Mariachi Band which entertained our whole group.  It was one of the high points of my life.

A Lifelong Love of Learning

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Nancy Mamani Aspi in front of her home

Nancy Mamani Aspi comes from a family committed to education – her father is a teacher, her three siblings have stayed in school despite challenges.

In high school Nancy received a music scholarship so she could learn guitar, charango, and music theory.  She still loves music and practices guitar in her free time. Nancy was also chosen while still in high school to represent the indigenous young people of the Department of La Paz in a congress of eight Latin American countries held in Guatemala. The theme of the meeting was “Peace”.

What Are These Kids Doing Up So Late? Working on Their Future!

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Albertina and a T-shirt with her original design, ready to sell to help pay for a field trip

Working till 2:00 a.m. to fill orders might not be every teenager’s first choice, but that’s what David, Juana and William decided to do (unknown to we adults until the next morning) on my last night in Sorata this past trip. They were silk-screening designs on T-shirts requested by recent Study Tour visitors from California, determined to complete as many as possible for me to bring back to the US. I delivered them at a group reunion the next week, to everyone’s delight.

Call for Volunteers

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Art therapy workshop 2007

In our very first year, students at Friends schools and colleges as well as other adults began asking to volunteer.  Now they range in age from middle-school students in family groups to retired professionals.  Volunteers help with school and adult ed classes (especially English), and come home amazed at the richness of their experience. In 2011 one family with three teens participated, a doctoral student spent a full year, and a retired teacher from the UK spent four months.

Not ready for the Andes just yet? We also need volunteers for document translation, regional committees, and spreading the word about this work.

Do you have time and talent to share in support of Bolivian Friends education?  If you’d like to experience the joy and growth of volunteering on behalf of Friends in Bolivia, please send us an email at office_ (at)_bqef.org.

Bolivian Grads Give Back, Sponsor New Student

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From reports by Juan Yujra, Bernabé Yujra, Rubén Hilare, Beatriz Apaza, and Abigail Medina

One Saturday this past June, 17 of the 77 graduates of the BQEF Scholarship program gathered for a reunion. There they met the challenge of helping the next generation.

During the reunion, the Scholarship Committee and Bernabé Yujra presented a challenge: to support the next generation of Quaker young people who have the same needs that they had as students.  As part of this challenge, he asked for commitments to help at least one scholarship student in the second semester of 2011.  

Meet Irma
The former scholarship students responded generously and provided contributions and pledges that now support the first scholarship student sponsored in Bolivia.

Blogging from La Paz

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I am back in La Paz for a few days so there is Wi Fi, I really am an internet addict!

I suffered a spot of "Bolly Belly" [??] yesterday, so the 4 hour public minibus trip from Sorata was a little uncomfortable as I was afraid to eat or drink in case!! However it soon passed and  I have had a great day in the city today.

This morning I went to a presentation on the Aymaran language and its status on the Internet. It was very interesting to compare the issues raised with those faced by the Welsh language. There are no Aymaran schools and Wikipedia is still not available in the language but there is plenty of radio and TV.  There are 5000,000 speakers of the language in South America. The students in Sorata are still determined to teach me some Aymara but I am very slow!

This afternoon I visited a Quaker school in La Paz and met the students who receive grants from the Bolivian Quaker Fund to continue their studies. They were a delightful, enthusiastic group and I hope to hold some English classes with small groups of them in November  - some have requested basic German too!

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