Monday, June 12, 2006

1st Course : Ticipaya (Serpita - Q'olallu)




Zach Steffens, Michael Vehar, Sylvanus Agyeman, Collin Whelley and Clayton Rohman finish the first Bolivia Project course 20 miles north of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Little Martn to the left and the rooster to the right also contributed in the effort.

Click Here to View Photos of this Course!

Summary:

We arrived in Serpita - Q'olallu with Ruth and the team from Sobre la Roca on the morning of June 7th. Both The Bolivia Project team and Sobre la Roca workers rode in the back of a truck that carried ourselves and the materials to the site of the project. We worked for three days at an OTM's house. An OTM is a community representative to a certain area, Don Luciano helped organize the course and participants. The turn out was about 14 women and 2 men that helped construct thier own cookers, and our team with Ruth's workers built the rest. The rest of the cookers went to teachers that couldn't miss class for a three day period (Bolivian public schools pay very poorly).

The first day we unloaded and got started immediately. We began with a presentation of the project by Ruth, a thanks to the participants from Mike, and a thanks from Don Lucinano to The Bolivia Project. Then each participant said their names as well, this way we all knew each other. It was amazing to see how quickly we began working together. The Participants were excited to be helping construct their own cooker, and we were excited to finally be doing what we have spent so much time raising money for. Each day we worked up until lunch and ate solar cooked food, which also helped prove to the women just how well the cooker works.

As the days progressed, we got to know the people better and better, and they got to know us. In Bolivia, it is considered lucky to see an African because they never see them. Needless to say, they enjoyed getting their picture taken by our photographer "Sly".

The second day after lunch Ruth brought out some poster boards, at this point we didn't even know this was part of the course. She went on explaining many things including: statistics on indoor air pollution, an explaination of why we cannot just cut down the biomass (trees) around us, how the cooker works, when and how is best to use it, how to purify unsafe water with the cooker, etc. Honestly it felt so good seeing our dream from the project's beginning, coming true. Watching the people as they learned about unsafe cooking techniques, and what they could do to help spread the word about Indoor Air Pollution made every hour spent fundraising worthwhile.

The final day was more satisfying than we ever thought possible. The people were so thankful to The Bolivia Project and the contributions we made to make the cookers affordable for them. We all cooked a large supper at the end of the course, presented each participant with their new cooker, and finally they made us gifts to remeber our time in their community. We received hugs and kisses from the women (traditional thank you and goodbye), and they gave us little bags, colorful traditional winter hats, bracelets, pens, and keychains. All gifts of appreciation and so that we remembered our time in Serpita - Q'olallu. The political representative of the entire Ticipaya region also came and thanked us at the end as well. We are becoming noticed by representatives in the government that want courses for their own communities, this can only help our efforts to get solar cooking technology to the most people possible.

Thanks again to all those that have donated to The Bolivia Project, all of this would not be possible without you. We hope that you continue to read about our courses, and see the good that is coming from your support.


Commentary:

"I love riding in the back of trucks down here, you get to see so much of the countryside, and its so safe...?"
- Collin

"I just think its amazing how we can all work as a team, the women and us, while we have so many language barriers."
-V

"I love being me down here, I'm bringing everybody luck. Everyone just smiles and looks at me, so I either wink or wave at 'em!"
-Sly

"I think its a satisfying feeling to pound a nail into wood, I could help with these courses all day!"
-Bubaganoosh

"This solar cooker food is amazing, I can't stop eatin' it!!!"
-Sly

"These hats that they gave us as gifts are great, I'm reppin' mine back in the States!"
-Zatch
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