The first couple of days here in Cochabamba have been more about food and preparation than anything else. If you’re interested, well, I guess you can ask me. Certainly the food has been amazing! Yesterday and today were amazing! Yesterday we visited two events. One took place in a church called Ekklesia and the second in a Christian & Missionary Alliance church. The first event we attended was a training program focused on equipping child leaders to teach other children on issues of positive and negative treatment from others and how to respond.
Upon arriving at the church all was quite on the outside. As we walked into the activity building the room was filled with children and adolescents. Nearly all the children (67 kids present) were broken up into groups of 5-7 each. I was told by one of the boys where I ended up sitting that two ambassadors (representatives of the projects) were in each group. These are democratically elected by their projects to represent them.
Upon my entrance into the group the young people were working on issues of self-esteem. Primarily using pre-drawn faces to identify how they were feeling. I was told by the boys in our group that they were training on self-esteem issues and what they were referring to as “buen trato.” I later found out from the Viva regional director, Ines Caballero, that buen trato is a program that was first begun by Youth for Christ Uruguay and was recently passed on to the children of Bolivia by them. The program is now being spread to children by children across Bolivia.
The second program which we visited was held at the C&MA church. It was an informal educational program where street working children attend on Fridays and Saturdays. There were close to 30 boys and girls at the center. We were able to meet with them, encourage them and listen to their stories. I was especially inspired by a 11 year old girl who spent quite sometime schooling me on Bolivian politics. I will not forgot that conversation anytime soon. She went into depth on the international relations between Venezuela and Bolivia and the current president’s economic policy. It was a fascinating conversation to say the least.