Brenda Arakaza of Winnipeg was looking forward to the 12-day Development and Peace solidarity tour of Bolivia. A native of Burundi in East Africa, Brenda had been impressed with the work of Caritas Internationalis in Africa.
The opportunity to travel to Bolivia and witness the community development work performed by the partners of Development and Peace – the Canadian member of Caritas – appealed to her.
“My mom used to be involved with Caritas,” she said Aug. 10 in the Edmonton International Airport while waiting to embark on the trip to Bolivia. “I know what Caritas has done in some countries in East Africa, and I’m excited to see what they do in Bolivia.”
Brenda is one of 14 Development and Peace supporters from Manitoba and Alberta taking part in the Aug. 12-25 visit to some of the organization’s partners in Bolivia.
Others said they were looking forward to hearing stories and having meaningful interactions with people in the majority Indigenous country. Others were eager to hear local music, see the distinctive Bolivian clothing, taste unique foods such as guinea pig and llama, and view animals unique to South America.
Mia Klein-Gebbinck of Beaverlodge, Alta., said, “I am looking forward to seeing with my own eyes how the partners work.”
It is the local Bolivian partners who do the real work which Development and Peace supports, thanks to the donations of Canadian Catholics.
Mia said she also looks forward to seeing the effect of the 11-year-old socialist government of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The government is attempting to balance the need for revenue from extractive industries with the Indigenous world view which emphasizes harmony with the natural environment.
The Morales government has sought to help Bolivians live out their dream for “buen vivir” – living well. Mia wants a closeup view of how the idea is being planted into the lives of the people.
Helen MacDonald, a dedicated Development and Peace supporter from Grande Prairie, Alta., is also heading forth full of curiosity – personal interests, such as how well her efforts to learn Spanish have born fruit, and global concerns, including how Development and Peace partners are supporting Indigenous communities.”
On their trip, the 14 solidarity visitors are to meet with representatives of Development and Peace partners working on areas of concern such as the rights of women and Indigenous people, agrarian reform, health, the mining industry, the country’s economic situation and other topics.