Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cochabamgringos on TV

My Mom´s in Bolivia!!! Yep whether you can believe it or not my Mom has made the long slog from Indianapolis, Indiana and got the first stamp ever on her passport here in the La Paz airport. Things have been going good and it´s been awesome to show her around and see the enthusiasm that she brings to both the project and the city as a whole. In addition to my Mom we´ve also welcomed 2 Univ Dayton student volunteers which will be working for 2 months to make recommendations regarding scale ups in production. Finally we also spent earlier this week hosting Dr. Martin Almada from Paraguay. Martin is owner of our sister non-profit company in Paraguay and serves a host of other roles. As a result of Plan Condor he was placed in jail in 1974 where he was tortured for 3 years and his wife killed for their political views. Ever since he has served as a figure recognized worldwide has made major advances in raising awareness on human rights and 3rd world sustainable development. He is one of 8 foreigners advising the current Bolivian president.

So needless to say we´ve all been busy. The whole crew headed out to the town of Cliza last Monday where we had a demonstration of our wood and solar cookers in the central plaza. As always the people were amazed at the efficiency with which we cooked and immediately saw the utility in the flashy new ¨ecological cookers¨. Mom got along oh so well with all the kids and even the cholitas (the women dressed in traditional bolivian attire) despite her inability to speak spanish. Not surprisingly the kids surrounded and loved on her no different than the preschoolers do back in the states. Quite an improvement from the angry cholitas yelling curse words at her during her first hours in bolivia as they protested her trying to take a picture of me with them in the background. You never can tell in this crazy country.

We returned to Cliza last night to continue with propaganda on the radio and with a $12 bribe made it onto the local television comedy show. A primarily Quechua (indian) program meant that the hosts could rip on us gringos as Ruth, Mike, Mom, and I stood next to EL PONCHITO the program´s host. It was actually an awesome opportunity to get publicity and Ruth and EL PONCHITO did a great job of educating people on the cookers and how they can improve the health of families and the environment as well. Being a comedy they had Mike and I translating spanish pick up lines into english for all the latin ladies watching while my Mom had to sing a song in English ( she chose ¨Smile smile don´t you know God loves you´ showing her true preschool teacher spirit). Mike sang ¨Billy Jean¨ since all Bolivians love referring to him as Michael Jackson. It was a truly hilarious affair but also a great opportunity to form a connection with the many farmers that could really use our cookers. We have 100 people already signed up requesting a cooker and we´re hoping to get a lot more in a follow up demonstration on Monday that will include the mayor´s appearance and approval.

Anyway today has been chill. I continue to give mom all my change and she is whole heartedly donating the equivalent of 25 cents to every homeless child, woman, or handicap she encounters. Each donation comes with a warm smile like only my Mom can give as anyone who´s encountered her helping hand over the years can attest. With that note I´m out until the next time.

Hasta luegito,