A weaver of dreams in Bolivia
By Claudia Urriolagoitia, Building Relations Coordinator, Tarija Program Office, Plan Bolivia
Paulino is 16 and lives with his brothers and parents in a small community high up in the municipality of San Lorenzo. He is in his final year of secondary school and attends his community’s school. Paulino’s life is much the same as the other young people in his community.
He gets up very early, brushes his teeth, washes his face and goes to fetch grass for his animals. Then he has breakfast and goes to school.
To get to school he walks along a path with steep drops on one side but this does not seem strange or dangerous to him because all of the paths around his community are the same; his village is stuck in the middle of mountains where there are no flat places. The houses, school and fields are all on slopes. School is a good place for Paulino. He studies with his teachers and plays with his friends Anibal and Wilfredo.
At two in the afternoon, when he leaves school, he goes to the fields where his parents are working and helps work the land with his brothers.
Paulino’s family, like most families in rural areas, work with their hands or sometimes with oxen to plough the fields before sowing. There are no tractors or other machinery. The arable lands in the community are few so they can only be used for subsistence farming. The families sow maize, different types of potatoes, wheat, barley, peas and beans. If they have surplus it is taken to the market in the city. On these special occasions Paulino goes to the city with his father.
Sometimes it is night by the time he gets back from the fields and so Paulino has to do his homework by candlelight because there is no electricity in the community. Then he has dinner and goes to sleep until dawn the next day when he has to get up to feed the animals.
Life in the countryside is routine and so Paulino always looks forward to his community’s traditional festivals, such as All Saint’s Day on 1 November, when people remember their dead. “We wait for the souls with food at mid day. The next day we go to the hill and put flowers on their graves, we pray and pay for a mass to be said for them so they leave happy and will come back the next year,” he tells us.
When the festivals are over Paulino goes back to his routine and dreams of plans and projects to make a better future for him and all of his community. Paulino is like any other child in many ways but not in all as he is a weaver of dreams and Plan is working to help them come true.
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