This summer, the ambulantes have expressed a desire for a health clinic, and we are going to try and help them to establish one. They have arranged for some Cuban doctors to staff the clinic (the Cuban government has sent doctors throughout the world to work in poor communities, often free of charge), but they need a space in which to set them up. Finding and creating this space will be one of our students' tasks in Bolivia.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Last post I mentioned the ambulantes, one of the groups with which we work in Bolivia. The ambulantes (or, more properly, the Asociación de Comerciantes Minoristas "Los Angeles") are a group of some 1500 illegal street vendors, who sell on the streets of Cochabamba because it is the only way to support their families. Many of the vendors are women and single mothers, have very little in the way of investments, and make the equivalent of about $2 a day selling juice, fruit, fried meat, shoelaces, or other small items. The government considers them to be illegal because they lack work permits and compete with more established vendors, but the ambulantes claim they have no other option, and deserve to have their right to work respected. In 2008, our students worked with this group to try and establish a daycare center, so mothers would have someplace to leave their children while they are out selling in the streets. Two of our students created a website and video to document the situation; these can be viewed at www.losambulantes.com.