Today was an amazing day! After my time in the market spending a last day with the child workers there, I headed over with Maximo (street educator for Early
Encounter) to a school where Rosario and Cynthia were awaiting us. We needed to get a stage from the school. Eventually got what we needed and headed over to the “Cine Center” which is the local movie theater where the “buen trato” (good treatment) symbolic vaccination campaign was to take place. The projects, all 17 of them, slowly began arriving as we set up the stage, chairs and music in the parking lot. This is what the children and youth have been preparing for all month. The original ambassadors training on August 30th was now coming full circle. Upon training each of the child ambassadors, the ambassadors in turn trained the other boys and girls that either live in their same group home or who attend their day project. They refer to these as “replicas.” But they did not just simply copy what the adults had taught them on the August 30th
training, rather they added their own creative touches when it was their time to teach and train the other kids. This speaks of their creativeness and agency as social actors who are committed to imparting their teaching and training others to care for their “neighbor.” I was privileged enough to attend some of the “replicas” and was quite impressed with the ability of the children and youth to communicate the importance of treating others with respect. Now most of the children and youth who had been trained by the child ambassadors are now “vaccinating” people in the street. It was quite a sight to behold as children, some as young as five years old walked up to adults and children alike on the street to talk to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect. This Is the very issue that the “buen trato” campaign gets at. Children broke up into “brigades” in order to cover as much territory as possible. I was able to join one group of girls who set out a couple blocks away from the main event. Most of the leaders stood back as the children approached the people. The children typically asked people if they would like to be vaccinated against child abuse. They were quick to point out that it was not an actual shot! If the people agreed to the
symbolic vaccination, they would go on to tell them about the campaign and fill out a card with their name on it. “The vaccination lasts 1 year or until they mistreat someone,” they would tell the participants. They then would hand them a sticker to put on their shirt and a piece of candy which finalizes the vaccination. The campaign not only took place here in Cochabamba, but was held in Sucre, Oruro, Potosi and La Paz. Thousands of people were targeted today as children stood up for other children who are abused and neglected around the country. Just amazing!