-By Mia Hall-
Throughout the world, environmental sustainability is become an increasingly debated topic; we are living in a moment where little by little, people are beginning to realise real change is the answer. Bolivia is a country with huge levels of plastic pollution, present throughout its streets, supermarket packaging, etc.
Our volunteer Vera, upon noticing this ever-present problem, came up with an idea to help curb plastic pollution whilst also raising awareness about both the NGO and the environment.
Introducing: Pasos Pequeños! Three or four times a year in Bolivia a day called Día de Peatón is celebrated, whereby cars are banned from city centres to promote a decrease in air pollution. Meanwhile, everyone goes out to enjoy wandering through the empty streets and stalls that have been set up specially by all kinds of local organizations, vendors and shops. It’s a joyous day, where people and families can participate in everything the city has to offer, from games and food to dancing and activities.
And this year, thanks to Vera, Pintar en Bolivia was part of it!
Pasos Pequeños is an environmental and social project, that aims to help people understand the dangers of plastic pollution and how to take steps to avoid it. During Día de Peatón, we set up a stand in the city centre where people could decorate their own resusable tote/canvas bags, have a chat about the NGO, and even purchase one of our pre-designed bags!
Here’s how it all worked…
Firstly, we found people to make the plain tote bags. Vera made connection with women through a local project called Mosoj Warmi, within NGO Voces Libres. These women have suffered from sexual abuse, and are in need of a fair and sustainable income. They were paid a fair wage as well as given the opportunity to learn how to sew professionally as the possibility to start their own micro-business. People could then buy a bag and paint their own designs using the materials we provided. It was hugely popular with families and children, and it was a lovely way to creatively inform people on topics such as environmental sustainability!
We also created our own line of bags, with three different designs! Two of the designs are made by our very own Anita, one of the kids at Mosoj Punchay, who is hugely talented with a paintbrush. Anita’s dream is to become an Architect. She has recently finished school and is working as a hairdresser to save money for her studies; every design we sell from Anita will go towards this study fund. Anita’s designs proved to be very popular – we’re so proud of her achievements, and her brave decision to stay in Cochabamba and follow her dreams.
And there’s more! We also had a Siente Cochabamba design designed by our volunteers Katrina and Lua. All the proceeds from these bags go towards their varying social projects – it has been such a nice way to raise money for two different great causes, whilst also making a point about plastic waste and Bolivian pollution levels. Whilst Día de Peatón was back in April, Pasos Pequeños is continuing to this day. We hope to further our product line, continuing our effort to raise money for Anita’s university funds, as well as funds of the development of Siente Cochabamba. We’ll be sharing lots more developments with you soon!