Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch Changing

One of the most exciting things about working with a grass-roots organisation like Up Close Bolivia is the constant need to adapt, re-invent and change direction. It definitely keeps you on your toes and makes sure that things never get too ‘comfortable’!

Up Close is constantly responding to the needs of the community and as these needs change so do we.

‘Nuestro Espacio’ is a programme that developed from the immediate need within the community to provide a safe space for children to go after school. In the first few versions the after-school club focussed on supporting children with their homework as well as running activities that reinforced values such as friendship, solidarity and respect. Whilst at first this formula worked well, we found that little by little attendance was dropping and children were no longer bringing their ‘tareas’.  The need for ‘Nuestro Espacio’ was still there, but what the children wanted from the club had changed meaning that we had to change as well.

Nuestro Espacio Version 2.0 

Working with the community means listening to them and finding out what they want. By asking the children what activities they enjoyed the most we’ve been able to adapt ‘Nuestro Espacio’ to suit them: we’ve scrapped homework hour in favour of a more activity-based programme.  We’ve realised that our role is not to act as a 2nd set of parents, but to be their older brothers and sisters. In this version of Nuestro Espacio our aim will be to create a space in which children can be children.

International Ideas

Change can be daunting, but without it we can get stuck in the routine of playing it safe. One thing that ensures that we never stay the same for too long is the constant arrival of new volunteers from all over the world; their energy and ideas are reflected in the ever-changing nature of Up Close. 

The arrival of our newest team of ICS volunteers brings with it the promise of potential. Over the next few weeks they shall be brainstorming, planning and bringing all their different experiences to the table – the future of Nuestro Espacio is in their hands! 

Watch this space…..

The new Up Close Bolivia ICS team!

Written by Naomi Martin

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