Making a difference in Bolivia

Hi. My name is Jasmine Sealy and I’m an International Development Studies Co-op student at UTSC. I’m currently on placement in Bolivia.

My official mandate for Oxfam-Quebec is to act as advisor in the areas of leadership and communication for Centro Ñanta in Sucre, Bolivia.  Ñanta provides a wide array of social services to working boys, girls and adolescents. This is a particularly vulnerable population of children who require special attention and a unique approach. They are subject to several challenges such as exploitation in the workforce and familial problems, and are severely constrained in their ability to attend school and generally be kids. As such Ñanta employs a capacity-building approach to ensure that these exceptional children can retain their independence while benefitting from integrated support in the form of nutrition, pedagogy, informatics, social work, sports and culture. Ñanta encourages the promotion of the rights of the child and tries to include the children in many of the decision-making processes of the organization.

Playing with blindfolds and balloons during a field trip with the kids

My role as advisor on leadership and communication involves capacity building with the educators of Ñanta to integrate these themes into all areas. Leadership generally involves increasing the ability of the children to make their own decisions, manage their time and money effectively and to lead their various working groups effectively and democratically. To improve the leadership aspect of Ñanta’s services, I’ve been working with the social workers to develop games and other activities that develop leadership skills. I’m also assisting in the production of a docu-fiction by some of the older Ñanta beneficiaries.

With regard to communication, I’m working to improve both the internal and external communications of the organization. Internal communication means facilitating the ways in which staff communicate with each other and the continuity that exists across diverse work areas. External communication means improving public relations (such as social media, websites, brochures, etc) as well as encouraging synergistic relationships with other organizations working in the same field.

Very recently the Oxfam-Quebec Bolivia office in La Paz recognized that I’m knowledgeable of funding proposals, particularly the results-based management approach required by CIDA. So they’ve added a third component to my mandate: diagnostic and general improvement of Ñanta’s fund-seeking activities. So far, I’ve been involved in writing two funding applications for Ñanta.

A celebration of the Dia de la Juventud in Sucre where a bunch of different organizations who work with kids got together and gave out prizes for the grafitti competetion. That's me with some of the kids from Nanta and two other Oxfam volunteers.

Outside of my mandate, I sometimes assist with the translation of a magazine that is written and sold by the children. I also occasionally attend street visits with the outreach social workers to meet some of the children who work on the street but who do not attend Ñanta. I also interact with these children during organized field trips and at the local swimming pool where I sometimes lend my time.

Join me tomorrow when I’ll share with you my experience at the big central market – the joys of a language barrier!

By Jasmine Sealy

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About uoftscarborough

The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) is home to a community of active learners drawn from all over the globe, determined to use what we discover – through investigation, collaboration and experience – to make our world a better place. Our campus is an integral component of Canada’s leading research-intensive university, a place where faculty contribute to cutting-edge knowledge, where the finest students are taught by the finest professors. Upon graduation, our students have earned one of the most rigorous and respected post-secondary degrees in the world. At UTSC, we are working together to find answers to tomorrow’s most important questions. And because the search for knowledge must always be conducted in a meaningful way, our campus is continually alive with innovative programming, engaging discourse and dynamic experiences that feed our spirits and enrich our minds. This is how to prepare students for the best possible future. This is how our scholarship contributes to a better world. This is our promise. Because tomorrow is created here.
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