Tuesday, 26 November 2013

'Prisons' and 'Children' - would you put these two words together?

I've been procrastinating a lot recently between essay writing and attempting to start exam revision! I've been looking further into the concept and the reality of prison children in Bolivia, considering this is the main reason I am heading off to South America in a few weeks. It's pretty interesting/shocking stuff and I thought I'd share it in a short blog with you. 

These prisons are not at all like British prisons. There are no guards, uniforms or metal bars on the cell windows. Inmates have to pay for their cells and will usually work inside the jail in order to do so, by spending their days selling groceries, hairdressing or shoe-shining, for example. 

"I can't afford to buy it, so I rent it for 80 bolivianos
 ($10; £6) a month."

Children suffer discrimination outside the jail, and face sexual abuse within. Usually, there is nowhere else for them to go and they have no other family members with the financial means to take care of them. Some are born in the cells and do not know any other way of life other than their prison life. Check out this BBC Photo Journal: inside a Bolivian jail article to find out more and to read short quotes from prison inmates. 

I'm going to be going to a central region of Cochabamba where, according to another article, living conditions are no better. Children often witness violence and prostitution in the cells. According to the Bolivian authorities, the number of children living in prisons has increased since the 1980's, when the government took a tougher line against drug-trafficking. This article on Bolivia's prison children reveals more. 

The Palmasola prison holds entire families

When I go to Bolivia, I will be working in a day care center outside of a jail where prison children attend each day. The children range from 0-16 years old. I hope to speak in depth with some of the older children and to try and understand their viewpoints, feelings and opinions, and to attempt to grasp a small part of this reality of Bolivian life. We all know it's not as simple as always trusting media sources, so I'll continue to report back to you through my blog with my own research! 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

6 and a half weeks until take off!

Hello everyone!

I have made this blog page so that some of my friends and family who don't have Facebook, will be able to keep up with where I am and what I'm doing on my next trip.

As you can see, I am going to South America from 19th December 2013 until 29th July 2014. The main reason for this is to undertake my second (and final!) work placement as part of my Anthropology degree.

I have chosen to go to Bolivia for between 3 and 5 months, depending on how things go once I'm out there where I will be working as part of a Prison Children Program - more info on the left of the page. I plan to begin my placement in March, which means I will be spending the first couple of months including Christmas and New Year, back in Ecuador in Shiwakucha and the Amazon! For those of you who don't know, Shiwakucha is where I spent the majority of my time for my first placement.......and where I 'went native' and got myself a boyfriend......

I will travel from Ecuador to Bolivia via Peru for a couple of weeks. After Bolivia, my plan was to go to Brazil via Paraguay, however, I will be right in the middle of the World Cup at that time! Two words - expensive and chaotic! The World Cup is scheduled to take place in Brazil from 12th June to 13th July. So, I have decided that I am going to take some time to go to Argentina instead (a country I have always wanted to go to!) and perhaps try and Au-Pair for a few weeks if possible and replenish some funds!

Then, I will be heading back up to Brazil via Paraguay or Uruguay where I plan to stay for the closing few days of the World Cup and then explore a bit of Brazil! All of my travel between countries will be done using the public bus services over the border crossings.

6 and half weeks to go and I am bricking it about flying.....as per usual! The definite drawback of my passion of travelling. Can barely sleep a wink on flights!