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Project Description

KIERAN IN BOLIVIA

My name’s Kieran and I spent six months working inLa Paz, Bolivia, with the charity Instituto de Terapia e Investigacion (ITEI).

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MY PROJECT

ITEI offer legal, psychological and medical support to the victims of torture and state violence.

MY ROLE AT ITEI

While working for ITEI, my colleague and I were asked to make a documentary about a group of men and women who were tortured under the military dictatorships of the mid-twentieth century.

A TYPICAL DAY FOR ME IS…

During the first few months we spent our time researching the situation and conducting preliminary interviews with historians, the leaders of our charity and the group of protestors. When filming began we conducted more than 15 interviews with protestors, historians, lawyers and medics. We also spent a lot of time out filming in La Paz as well as collecting archival images and footage. In the last few months of my placement we spent the majority of our time editing the film and creating a website that to support its release. 

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO WHEN I’M NOT VOLUNTEERING

While not at work I spent a lot of time exploring La Paz and practising my Spanish. My day-to-day life was really not that much different from what it was like in England. Between studying, seeing friends and the usual chores, La Paz was an incredibly easy place to adapt to and it is only now that I’m back in England that I’ve begun to realise how unique a place it actually is.

THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT LIVING & VOLUNTEERING IN BOLIVIA IS:

For me, the most interesting thing I’ve learned is that it is startlingly easy to adapt to what at first seem like strange environments. All the small things you think you’ll stress over missing (guaranteed hot water, different foods, luxuries, etc.) really reveal themselves to be the superficial concerns that they are. This has been extremely liberating.

FROM MY VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT I LEARNT/GAINED:

Working for ITEI was also a fantastic opportunity. Not only did it encourage me to make more films, but it also introduced me to the politics and modern history of Latin America. In Bolivia, the recent history of crime, violence and terror is still incredibly tangible and it has been extremely inspiring to meet people who are working through these traumas defiantly and with optimism. The experience has meant that I’ve begun to think very seriously about pursuing postgraduate studies in the issue with a view to returning to the region.

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