Eight young people from Quebec are currently completing an introduction to international solidarity internship in Bolivia as part of the Québec sans frontières (Quebec without borders, or QSF) program. They are currently supporting a Development and Peace partner, the Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral (centre for holistic health promotion, or CEPROSI), in La Paz.
CEPROSI is a non-profit organization that has been working for more than 25 years with women and families living in La Paz and El Alto. Its mission is to promote holistic health among women and families in these sectors through education, communications, and lobbying initiatives targeting public policy.
The group is sharing their experiences during their stay. In this text, you can imagine yourself dancing with the whole group during a food fair held on June 25, 2017.
On Sunday, June 25, a food fair took place in El Alto to promote a healthy lifestyle. Wholesome food, music, dancing, and sunshine were on the agenda! The women's centres that we’ve been supporting since our arrival even disguised us as beautiful vegetables for the occasion! The fair was an opportunity to provide popular education on the theme of healthy eating.
It must first be said that our internship in Bolivia has two components, i.e. popular education on healthy eating and urban agriculture. The fair therefore enabled us to inform passers-by and, at the same time, further raise awareness of the members of women's centres selling their wholesome dishes. The day before the fair, about 15 stands were set up, and each women's centre had its space decorated with crafts and knitwear. The other stands presented information on agriculture, the links between psychology and nutrition, and responsible water consumption.
The objective of the food fair was not only to promote healthy eating but also to remind people of the importance of regular physical activity. Thus, for 30 minutes, we hosted a zumba session. To make the activity as interesting as possible, we started with a great classic, a venerable masterpiece that’s a mainstay at all teen discos and weddings: THE MACARENA. The result was dazzling; a huge success!
We had a lot to prepare before the big day; it was a first experience in organizing events for a number of us! As it was a food fair, we had to make sure that the women's centre assigned to us had concocted a wholesome dish and beverage. As visual support, we produced posters indicating the main ingredients of the recipes, as well as their nutritional properties. The purpose of these posters was to inform passers-by of the benefits of healthful cooking. The visual support did not stop there! We were disguised as vegetables (yes, yes, you read it right). Thus, Stéphane was acelga (chard); Stéphanie, a frijole (bean); Caroline, a haba (broad bean); Virginie, a tomate (tomato); Samuel, lechuga (lettuce); Camille, a remolacha (beet); and Chrystel, a calabaza (pumpkin). If you now have a mental image of vegetables dancing the macarena, you’ve hit the nail on the head. It was fan-ta-stic!
The weekend before the fair, we had the good fortune of meeting some young students from a high school ecological brigade. In fact, we offered them craft workshops, and thanks to the fertile imagination and creative talent of each participant, we were able to use their posters on the themes of water conservation, the right to food, urban agriculture, and vivir bien (living well) during the fair.
The results of the fair prove that this is a good way to raise public awareness on key issues. In addition to enjoying a memorable day (among other things because of our spectacular zumba session), women were also able to raise a small amount of money through the sale of their dishes and crafts. Such an event requires a lot of preparation but must certainly be repeated!