Ricardo is the class president of our program in Villa Alba Bolivia. He is in 6th grade; the last grade of primary school. This kid exudes confidence and humour. He was teasing me about my clothing and my bad Spanish (both warrant teasing). I grilled him on his duties as class president and what he told me was he tells kids to shut up when they are talking in class (!!), organized an organic food product event and “helps the teacher” (I bet he does). Like all kids here he loves soccer.
His father works as a farmhand. Most fathers here are employed on big cattle ranches cut out of the jungle and owned by rich individuals from Santa Cruz Bolivia. The farmhands get paid OK and usually, there is some help for medical issues. It also means that they often miss school meetings and our meetings which is a source of tension with us because we insist that BOTH parents actively participate in their child’s education.
Ricardo wants to be a vet which is a realistic goal because there is a vet school in Trinidad and because of the huge cattle industry here there is demand for this type of work. I hope he finishes high school with his dreams intact because he would be a candidate for our newly formed “Alma alumni” program here in Bolivia where we help graduates of our primary and secondary school programs get into University and support them with some of their costs. This year (year one) we are supporting two individuals. It will be very cool for me, and all of our supporters to one day see these kids as adults practicing in their vocations.