The process of leaving Bolivia is marked by despedidas – goodbye parties. For us, these began yesterday, as the group that has been working with the women of Loma Pampa said goodbye to their friends in the barrio. The students had spent the morning preparing a meal of charque - dried llama meat - which they brought to Loma Pampa in the afternoon and served to the women assembled. The food was great, and the women so appreciative - our students and the leaders of the women's group all spoke movingly of their time together, and the women expressed their hope that the students would return some day. Our students should be extremely proud of themselves - they helped to found this women's group (and the girls' group, which has its despedida on Saturday), a space for women to get together, share their thoughts and feelings with one another, and learn to do crafts and other activities.
In the evening, another group of students attended a community meeting in Alto Cochabamba, another barrio where they have similarly been working with a group of women, helping them to learn how to bake bread and pastries. At this meeting, the students and our colleagues donated an oven to the community, which will be used by the women in their future activities. This was received by the women there with much joy and appreciation, as indicated by the confetti which they rubbed in everyone's hair. This group has its despedida tomorrow.