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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.