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Bolivia's Major English Language Publication

Issue 47

Coverbx47

Editorial by Sara Shahriari

The fantastical and the real, Andean tales and Grimm’s fairytales, the vastness of the world and the pluck and spirit of the children we spoke with for this issue were on the BX team's minds as we brainstormed cover options this month. Yesica, our brave and adventurous cover model, took to the idea with gusto, turning a sun-dappled forest glade (just off the highway between La Paz and El Alto) into an otherwordly stage, and showing us a new, sassy take on Red Riding Hood.

In this issue we focus on the experiences of childhood by talking with young people about their daily lives, aspirations, and free time. From Yesica, who wants to be a dentist, to Rina, who is torn between plans to become a clown or go to university, our writers found that childhood dreams and amusements haven't changed much since their own primary school days.

We also take a look at President Evo Morales' tough upbringing on Western Bolivia's high plains, where he helped his family plant potatoes and tended sheep and llamas, and how leadership on the soccer field may have foreshadowed the future leader's ability to unite and motivate people.

Of course the idea of childhood is inextricably tied up with family, and to a great extent all our childhoods are formed by the people who raise us, and what they think is right or wrong, good for us or bad for us. In this issue we feature the beautifully told story of a young man who was abandoned as a baby on the street, adopted from a Bolivian orphanage, and raised by a loving Belgian family. Today he has returned to Bolivia and is searching, with only meager records and recollections to guide his way, for his birth mother.

We also hear from a few mothers on their experience raising children in La Paz and El Alto. Nadia, an Australian and new mom living on the outskirts of El Alto with her husband and his family, talks us through the delicate cultural negotiations of raising a child far away from where, and how, she herself was brought up. We also explore the difficulty of obtaining affordable daycare (something that will resonate with many mothers far beyond Bolivia), and the great lengths that many parents go to when it comes time to enroll their children in school.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere the new school year has just begun, and as the streets once again fill with packs of uniformed young people we salute their energy and imagination—and perhaps envy them those gifts just a little bit.

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Articles from the latest issue of Bolivian Express

THE TALE OF THE MISFORTUNATE FOX AND THE MOUNTAIN

24 February, 2015, Sophia Vahdati

Be true of heart, persevere, and all your dreams shall come true.Damsels in distress will eventually be saved by rich, attractive gentlemen.Mother-in-laws are evil by their very nature. PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN    - ILLUSTRATION: ALEXANDRA MELEÁN A. These are some of the timeless morals that were drilled into my brain ...

DREAMS ACROSS GENERATIONS

24 February, 2015, Ali Macleod

One man’s life and the dreams of his daughters “I know it sounds funny, but I want to be a clown!” says Rina, laughing, wearing a half-guilty, half-thrilled grin. Then there is a pause. Rina considers another option: “I would also like to stay in La Paz and go to ...

THE BLANKET POLICE

24 February, 2015, Nadia Butler

Raising a Baby in El Alto PHOTO: ALEXANDRA MELEÁN A. Doña Basilia rushes out of the store where I stopped to buy eggs, wrestles my baby from me, and wraps him tightly in a blue fleece blanket featuring a pitchfork-wielding bear. She tells me I can keep the blanket if ...

Putting Women First: The Mujeres Creando Daycare of Dreams

24 February, 2015, Laura Wotton

It is 11AM on a Monday morning and twelve young children wielding plastic cars and picture books totter about in the brightly coloured basement of the Virgen de Los Deseos. An array of animal cushions line the back wall and an overflowing ballpit captivates the young audience. It is the ...

SCHOOL ENROLLMENT CHAOS

24 February, 2015, Nick Somers

Let the Queues Begin ‘Some parents have slept here since the first of January’, says Fidelia, who is queueing toward the end of a long line to enroll her youngest child, who is four and a half years old. The schoolyard is crowded and hums like a beehive. Hundreds of ...

RECONSTRUCTING MY PAST

24 February, 2015, Christof Bex

A quest to find my Bolivian birth mother PHOTO: NICK SOMERS Every day I spend wandering through the streets of La Paz, I see scenes that are foreign to the world I grew up in. Cholitas pass by, bearing children on their back. Busses come to a full stop in ...

LIFE LESSONS FOR THE BOYS OF BOLIVIA

24 February, 2015, Laura Wotton

Rethinking How to Be a Man An hour or so southwest of La Paz lies the town of Viacha, bustling but comfortably so, its maze of brown-faced buildings baking in the midday heat. Corner shops spill onto the pavement; a solitary cow hesitates, then hobbles across the road; a lorry ...

THE UPBRINGING OF EVO

24 February, 2015, Ali Macleod

The Travails of Young Morales On 21 January, Evo Morales was inaugurated as president of Bolivia for the third time at the ancient site of Tiwanaku, near Lake Titicaca, in a ceremony that mirrored Incan tradition. Morales emerged from amongst the pre-Columbian ruins decorated in gold and white cloth. He ...

INTRODUCING: YESICA

24 February, 2015, Laura Wotton

Yesica is eight years old, wears a bright pink top and a contagious smile. Sitting together in the early morning sunlight we talk boyfriends, animals and what she wants to be when she grows up. What’s your favourite food? I love rice pudding, but that's only for breakfast. For dinner ...