A Snapshot of PC Living Conditions in Bolivia  By David Dolson

While traveling in Bolivia during May and June 2003, I was able to visit the sites of three altiplano volunteers, one "city" volunteer and two from the campo.  Some of my observations provide interesting points of comparison for those Amigos members who served in Bolivia between 1963 and 1971.

· PCVs no longer come into the big cities for "paydays".  Instead, living allowances are deposited directly into their bank accounts and money is withdrawn with an ATM card.
· Current PCVs are not as isolated as previous generation volunteers.  Each PCV in Bolivia has a cell phone.  Many of the campo volunteers even live in villages connected to the regional big city (Oruro, Cochabamba, or Santa Cruz) by a paved road.  With paved roads come a variety of and more frequent transportation---taxis, trufis, mini and microbuses as well as the famous flotas and camiones.

· Improved transportation also means that local stores are better stocked and a shopping trip to a regional city is less problematical.
· Most but not all volunteers have electricity.  This means electric lights, appliances, and even television.  Besides local channels, some TVs receive cable feeds from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Europe and the United States.  Volunteers also have access to computers and e-mail.
· A high proportion of volunteers have running water.  Many have to go to a pila in the courtyard or down the street.  A few probably still get their water from a well but hardly any depend on a stream or river.

Overall, how do these changes affect the volunteers?  The living conditions of PCVs are still similar enough to those of
campesinos so as not to set them apart.  Yet volunteers are considerably more comfortable and less physically isolated than in the 1960s.  I think this allows them to spend more time and focus on their projects and less time on daily

survival chores.  Still, conditions are challenging enough that:
(1) volunteers know that they are persevering through some very difficult experiences, and (2) they definitely appreciate the many advantages of home.

There may be a few PCVs, who because of language problems, cross-cultural conflicts, or social shyness find it easier to impose self-isolation.  They might become couch potatoes or internet geeks.  Yet most of us can remember one or two volunteers in the 1960s whose primary accomplishment was to read every paperback in their book locker.

Current Bolivia PCVs are more similar than different from the first generation of PCVs.  Being a PCV in Bolivia continues to be one of those life experiences that is of immeasurable value even though most would probably not chose to do it again.

A Visit to PC/Bolivia (continued from p. 2)

and practices (latrines and bathrooms), and addressing solid waste management challenges. 

The project's community development component establishes and strengthens community water committees, and promotes family participation in local water and sanitation projects.

3. Integrated Education
:  Integrated Education Volunteers work in a variety of participatory projects

aimed at improving family health and well-being. 

Activities include family and community gardens, cooking demonstrations, interactive classroom sessions, teacher training programs, and hands-on seminars. 

Volunteers also work with teachers and school districts to develop and implement educational strategies in support of Bolivian Education Reform laws.

4. Microenterprise Development:  The Microenterprise Development project helps improve family incomes while preserving cultural traditions and natural resources. 

The project has two primary components:  a) business training and consulting-Volunteers teach in vocational schools, and consult with small business owners and rural cooperatives; b) community tourism development-Volunteers help mu

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Volume 14, Issue 3

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