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Voces Bolivianas: Success is sharing of knowledge and generating enthusiasm

The challenges faced by the project Voces Bolivianas have been manifold. But the high cost of internet and other limitations could not deter the Voces Bolivianas team of Bloggers to bring about a change by using citizen media tools like blogging, online photography and video. With the help of a Rising Voices microgrant they successfully completed the first round of workshops in El Alto city, which taught tools and techniques of citizen media to members of underrepresented groups in Bolivia. They have recently started a second series of workshops in El Alto and also extended the program to another city, Santa Cruz.

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Eduardo Avila of VB tries to evaluate the success of the Voces Boliviana project:

The Bolivian blog community site Blogs Bolivia took a look at the 23 new participants’ blogs and indicated which ones were still writing 3 months after the final workshop took place. They found that 25% of the blogs were still writing in the blog and observes:

“Sadly we find that the majority of the (new bloggers) have stopped publishing between the months of October and November. This means that even though they learned the new technology, there are still reasons related to costs, interest, or habit, which caused them to stop writing. Or maybe the teaching methods have not found the right group.”

Eduardo asks:

Is it simply a question of raw numbers, i.e. an increase in the number of sustainable blogs?

The answer lies elsewhere. VB also sought to measure attitudes and acquisition of knowledge. They found that the positive results show that these workshops do help in some way in regards to the participants’ knowledge and attitudes towards the use of blogs.

More is evident from the brilliant writings from the enthusiastic participants blogs like Bolivia Indigena which displays local cultures like decorated cars in carnival and other interesting things.

“Some things cannot be measured, but can simply be observed, such as when Bolivianas, who had no previous knowledge of these new tools, become excited to write and share their stories. It can also been seen in young people, who continue to share their traditions handed down from generation to generation, as well as write in their native language of Aymara.”

So success should be measured by the enthusiasm generated and not by sheer numbers of blogs. And it can only get better. Learning from the experiences from the first round of projects VB took special care to select more committed participants for the second round projects.

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On January 12, 2008 the El Alto II project started. The female participants were in greater number than the El Alto I. The participants Blogs are here. Read highlights of the participants writings here.

The workshop in Santa Cruz began in January 26, 2008. Jessica Olivares, coordinator and Enrique Canedo, project assistant of the project wrote an encouraging description of the first day.

“The rain was beginning to cease, and 11 individuals were waiting to begin the first class of digital literacy through the use of blogs… 11 individuals that were transformed from real-life to virtual and became part of the Bolivian Blogosphere.”

These blogs were opened by the participants during the workshop:

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Prof. Miriam Vidal- – Miriam Vidal
Capuletos- – José Armando
Eufenisimos – José Luis Alanoca
Travieso - – Kevin Ayllon
Reciclaje – Edmundo Vaquila
Turismo en Bolivia – Deisy Díaz
Crucenhito – Sergio Gutierrez
Litoraleño – Pedro Velásquez
Mi Cofre Musical OK – Silvana Salvatierra
La Docente de Siglo XXI - Elsa Muruchi

You can visit the project page and aggregator here – Voces Boliviana -Santa Cruz. Highlights of their posts in English can be found here.

In spite of heavy torrential rains and post carnival period most of the participants of El Alto II showed up for their second workshop last Saturday. They concentrated on training on photos. Afterwards they braved the rain and went around the neighorhood to take photos.

You can see many of their works in the project's Flickr page.

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Many of them used these photos on their blogs to describe their neighborhood.

There were also some interaction between the participants of Santa Cruz and El Alto II projects as blog comments. The El Alto II project recorded a greetings video for the participants in Santa Cruz inviting them to take a look at their blogs.

We will be bringing you more updates on these projects.

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