To start off with an introduction, my name is Carl Hickson, and I will be volunteering with BiblioWorks for six weeks, splitting my time between the office and the libraries. I am from the UK, and am just entering into my third year at the University of St Andrews, studying International Relations.
In terms of the work I will be doing here at BiblioWorks, I will be based out of the first library BiblioWorks launched – Morado K’asa, where I will be working with JUSIBA (Jovenes sin Barreras), an active youth group in the area. My time in the office will be spent meeting some of the other NGOs that operate in Sucre, exploring possibilities for collaboration.
This week, I took my first visit out to Morado K’asa, a small village of around two-hundred families, which is around a two-hour journey from Sucre by minibus – just under half of it on unpaved, rocky roads. In this village, of about 200 families, everyone speaks Quechua as their first language, and a large amount of the population live off subsistence farming.
The purpose of my first trip was to meet with JUSIBA, the youth group – both to get a feel for what they do, and work out how I could be most useful to them during my time with BiblioWorks. I came with Karen, one of the other volunteers, and Maritza, who works for BiblioWorks and knows the area well, which was helpful considering how small a community it is. The meeting was arranged for 6pm, which meant that people started arriving about twenty to twenty-five minutes later, with just over twenty people turning up altogether – a number Martiza was happy with.
Two things were most striking throughout the meeting – the first was the manners of everyone there. We started with a quick activity so that everyone could introduce themselves. Everyone was respectful, had impeccable manners, and opened with a warm good evening to the group. The second was the enthusiasm that everyone had. We spent a fair amount of this meeting discussing what sort of activities everyone wanted to do, and everyone was full of ideas, including football tournaments, dance classes, fix up the sports court, and take some English classes.
In the evening, we went back for dinner with the family we were staying with – the same family that hosted the initial Peace Corp volunteer who set up BiblioWorks. Dinner was basic – rice, potatoes and a piece of meat, but came in mammoth portion sizes, and was incredibly filling. Afterwards, we sat with the family outside, around a fire they had burning with some pots boiling on top. Again, it was striking how isolated and tranquil this place was compared to the city.
This also gave me a quick chance to think about what I want to accomplish in what will be a relatively constrained time here – as I will be in Morado K’asa for just two or three days a week. Given their enthusiasm, I will definitely arrange some English classes; something Karen is keen to help out with writing, as she has completed a course in teaching English as a second language. However, the other thing I would like to do is improve the organization of the youth in the area as well. With so much potential and enthusiasm, it would be good for them to start planning these activities on their own – meeting regularly to discuss what they want to do, and following through on these ideas. As such, I will hopefully work with the leaders of JUSIBA, and roll out some workshops on meeting organization and leadership, whilst identifying opportunities for them to improve. A tough aim in such a short space of time!