Voces Bolivianas: A year of success

We have some encouraging news from Bolivia. Eduardo Ávila of the Voces Bolivianas (Bolivian voices), a Rising Voices grantee looks back at the successful journey it had in the past year. The pilot program of Voces Bolivianas took place at a cyber-cafe in the city of El Alto last September. Since then Voces Bolivianas blog outreach workshops spread out and reached almost two third of the country.

Their long list of achievements can be found in a self-assessment post in their project blog. The notable successes among them are:

  • Completion of three months long blog outreach projects – El Alto I, El Alto II, and Santa Cruz I. Additional workshops were also arranged in Achacahi, Trinidad and Sucre.
  • Arrangement of a blog day called Bolivian Voices Day with the help of many national bloggers in 9 locations in 6 cities.
  • Translation of the Spanish language contents into English and the indigenous language of Aymara.
  • The project got media attention and some of the bloggers represented Voces Bolivianas in international conferences.
  • What is the team's strength? Eduardo says its “the commitment and passion of team members who believe in the mission of spreading the use of citizen media to underrepresented groups.” and why did it ran so long (still is running)? Because, “even though the initial grant money from Rising Voices completed in March, team members continued with tasks and initiatives in their free time.”

    Laptop bagSuccess depends on the support of other people. The Voces Bolivianas team deserves much applause for overcoming these hurdles with their exemplary efforts and these prompted others like local bloggers to support them. Lack of teaching materials and insufficient fund did not stop them from running. Instead they found innovative ways like selling locally produced laptop bags to raise funds. You can also support their cause and own this beautiful piece of handicraft.

    Bar CampThe 2nd annual national bloggers conference called Bloguivianos [es] took place in El Alto and La Paz cities on 29th-30th of August, 2008. A barcamp was also included in the event and Voces Bolivianas team were in charge of the event.

    The conference ended successfully with 83 participants and in the Barcamp 16 bloggers showcased their projects and ideas. Here is the timeline of the event.

    bloguivianos

    Hugo Miranda terms it reality of the realities. Here is a list of blogs who wrote about their experience in this Blog Conference. Here is a podcast on the conference (in Spanish).

    bloguivianos

    Image courtesy: David de Ugarte

    More pictures of the conference can be found in VB Flickr account.

    Blogger Virginio Sandy, an indigenous leader cum blogger was present in the event. He recounts his joy to meet the Voces Bolivianas bloggers in person.

    Eduardo describes about Sandy:

    During his presentation on the panel of Digital Literacy, he explained how his community lacks electricity, much less internet. However, he conveyed the importance of maintaining his blog, as it has become a two-way window to the rest of the world.

    Sandy wrote in a previous post in his blog:

    Blogs definitely break the barriers to racial and ethnic bias across the world, mainly in our country Bolivia.

    And what perfect example other than this below can support Sandy's statement?

    Cristina Quisbert, the bold voice of Bolivian indigenous people and a participant of the Voces Bolivianas program tells the world through her blog that the racism against indigenous people has come back in Bolivia:

    On May 24, also in the city of Sucre, they ..attacked indigenous people, humiliated and beaten up to abuse, enjoying impunity the local authorities allowed them.

    We must remember that 63% of the Bolivian population is identified as belonging to one of the 36 indigenous peoples in Bolivia and historically, they are ancestral lands of indigenous origin. However, …some scrupulous people ….still think that being a bit more white or having a surname that does not sound as indigenous is synonymous with superiority compared to what is brown or has an indigenous name. (machine translation)

    Because of the efforts of Voces Bolivianas the indigenous people in Bolivia have a voice now and can fight for their rights and be vocal against discrimination.

    6 comments

    • From Foko point of view, this project is so exemplar every time we have a little meeting we first check at VB’s blog and then start our discussions.
      Keep up the great work and never be afraid to dream BIG!

    • I am not at all sure that machine translation will solve the problem of a new global language, worldwide. People in some parts of Africa cannot even afford to buy food, let alone to buy a computer, as well.

      I do however think that there is a worldwide language problem, which demands a solution.

      Which is why I think a non-national language, like Esperanto, certainly should be given some consideration.

      The website http://www.esperanto.net gives much information, including languages from Africa!

    • Keep up the great work! I’m very interested in learning more about how the blog outreach worked in Bolivia – or anywhere else. These can be very effective tools and it would be interesting to learn how well it has been received among indigenous and minority groups.

    • Amazing. Your work can be a great exemplar for indigenous people in Taiwan, too.

    • Voces Bolivianas is an excellent proyect.
      Congratulations from Hiperbarrio

    • [...] initiative in Bolivia which has successfully trained dozens of new bloggers across the country, most recently at the Bloguivianos conference in El Alto and La Paz. In July, with the help of two members based in El Alto, Voces Bolivianas produced a number of [...]


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