Friday, 16 May 2008

Phase Two


Every new international staff member of Food for the Hungry (FH) is required to attend an extended orientation period of three weeks, taking a more in depth look at FH as an organisation, how to live and work in another culture as well as many other things.  For us however, things were a little different and we had a select numbers of the topics all crammed into one week taking place here in Sucre.


It would take too long to tell you about it all, so we have just put together a short snippet of what we looked at. 


Servant hood

We are here in Bolivia to serve the people of Bolivia, and so first of all it is important that we understand clearly what it is to serve. Every morning we studied together a chapter of Darrow Miller's book 'SERVANTHOOD: The Vocation of the Christian.' These provided a thought provoking look at what attitudes we as servants should have, different areas of serving and most of all how Jesus served and what we can learn from him and then be challenged to implement into our own lives. 


Food for the hungry

It is important for us to know what is the ethos behind the things that we do within FH, and what the mission, vision and values are. We knew some of these things before we arrived, and it was this small glimpse of what we saw that drew us to work with the organisation.  In a nutshell FH exists to work with the poorest of the poor and help them to solve their own problems and improve the lives of their children and their community in four basic areas of need physical, spiritual, mental and social. The vision of FH worldwide is a vision of a community – a vision of what a biblically based community can look like.  


During our phase 2 programme we learnt more about the structure of FH and how it as an organisation is seeking to meet needs in the way that God wants needs met, and how FH as an organisation is continuing to evolve and grow.


One of our days we spent with a very humble man called Arturo Cuba who works for FH teaching and training staff about worldviews. A worldview being our inner belief and value system that dictates how we as individuals and communities act and react to different things. Apparently from as young an age as 7 a worldview has been set from what has been learnt and observed up to that point.


Arturo was talking about how it is possible to change a worldview, but that there needs to be a willingness to change which can and often means being at odds with the culture, resulting in actions and practices that need changing.  This was an important concept for us to come to grips with as we seek to understand the people here in Bolivia, and for those who put together programmes and projects for FH to be involved with. 


For example – a sanitation project may be set up to install toilets in every home that are more hygienic than defecating all over the yard.  However, it is unlikely that they will be used as defecating into the ground goes against the worldview and understanding of the sacredness of 'Pachamama'(Mother earth).   In order for the people to understand and use a more hygienic way of doing their business, then their worldview, their system of beliefs and values first need to change.


With this in mind Arturo expresses the need to base any value and belief systems on the bible.  Another example we looked at was with regards to children not going to school.  When you keep asking the question Why? you eventually come down to the belief in a very fatalistic society that this hard way of living is how life is, and its never going to change.  If you can change this belief, then the society slowly changes, people realize that it doesn't always have to be this hard, that there is a way out, then they begin to see the benefits of the children being educated and thus send them to school.



We also looked at the importance of family. Making time for our family and not putting work above it, and also involving our children in the decisions we make, as much as they are able to understand. This led into looking at realistic expectations of what we hope to achieve during our time here, whether that be speaking the language, making friends in a culture that is very family orientated and not easy for outsiders to make enter or how much we can do in our jobs and the time frame for that to happen.

Happy day :o)

A warm sunny Saturday in May

On the 10th May 6 missionary's decided to be tourists for the day and went off for a 3 hour horse ride from Sucre to Yotala, about 18 Km from Sucre. The 6 included Sarah and myself, and we a great time trotting and cantering through some beautiful countryside and enjoying seeing it at a slow but bouncy pace. As well as the views it was an opportunity to get to know each other better while avoiding inch long thorns and going down some steep paths. The last part of the ride was going along the riverbed next to Yotala and cantering through the river, which was great fun. We then met up with the rest of the families that didn't come on the ride (including Alana) and enjoyed a long and leisurely lunch.

Ed's First Campo Trip

Ed's first Campo Trip

Finally after many weeks of talking about it at the end of April I finally got to go into the Campo (rural areas) for 3 days and see some of the areas that I have been making maps of, with my own eyes. The purpose was to help teach some of our (FH) technicians and some of the government workers in the Municipals of Ravelo and Ocuri, about the mapping programmes we use. This was an interesting trip to the world of different cultures, granted the roads are not that good out here and the guys from Ravelo had a flat tyre, but still it was an eye opener.

Monday 28th - April I left the office at 8am for the 3 hour drive to Ckara Ckara (where we have an office/house), stopping off on the way at a couple of offices to collect some computers for the training. It was great to see the countryside at ground level and not just from the air. The first part of the journey was through mountains, zig zagging down the side of one hill to cross a river and then climb back up the other side. Then just before we entered Ravelo (the first notable sized settlement since leaving Sucre 1 ½ hours earlier) the terrain levelled out and the rocky land gave way to large areas of cultivated land of wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas and a number of other crops. It was quite a change.

Ckara Ckara is a small drive through village with huts made of mud walls and corrugated roofs. The FH two storey, brick walled office stands out like a sore thumb. The village itself is in a flat plain and is very windy at this time of year, which brings in lots of dust storms especially coming off of the roads. That said it is a beautiful pace to look at. The office, you know how it is in the UK in Summer you need to take a jumper to church because it is always cold inside well the office there is even worse. Outside it is warm and sunny and a T-shirt is enough, but inside I had to wear a thermal T-shirt, shirt, jumper, thick fleece coat and a hat in order to be just about at the right temperature.

Once we arrived we sorted out the room and computers and prepared for a 12:30 start. That time came and went and no one arrived. Finally at 1:30 we decided we would have lunch, a lunch Bolivia style with lots of boiled rice and potato and a fried egg!!! An hour later the guys from Ravelo arrived. After they'd had lunch we started training but the Ocuri guys didn't show at all (our guys were coming the next day). A few hours later we went to one of our work areas to collect some data using GPS's and returned to the office after dark. As we drove the only signs of life was the occasional lamppost marking a community that had electricity. We worked until 9 and then the plan was that everyone would sleep over at the office, in order to start at a reasonable time the following day. However, the Ravelo guys had other plans despite the fact that they had a flat tyre and a spare tyre also with a hole in it! So our driver took them back to Ravelo returning to us past midnight.

Tuesday 29th - The plan was that we would start at 8:30 with a full day of training! Well plans can change, and they usually do here – several times! 9:30 the speaker for the morning arrived, 10:30 one of our guys arrived followed half an hour later by another of our guys and then at midday the guys from Ravelo arrived only 3 ½ hours late! So eventually we got started. I did some teaching which I enjoyed as they were a group that wanted to learn. That night we finished at gone 11 and the Ravelo guys thought that it was unlikely that they would be returning for the last half day of training.

Wednesday 30th - Last half day training with our 3 Technicians for Natural Resources. Despite not having any of the previous guys return we had a very positive day helping our own technicians get to grips with the programmes. Including an unprompted clearing of the office, when we saw water coming through the ceiling because the night before there was no water on the top floor and someone had left a tap on. So after brushing water down the stairs and out of the front door we carried on, before packing up and getting a guided tour back to Sucre with my boss showing me the different areas where we are working.

So that was the first trip, it was a good time and I look forward to exploring more of the campo.