I cant believe how much I am learning, the delegation is totally blowing away my expectations. I knew it would be great but I never could have hoped for such great people to work with and awesome places to be. Yesterday was the most powerful experience because it was a culmination of everything that has been going on in the last couple of days. We had spent a lot of time in the barrio getting to know how community organizations are working and talking to people about how the revolution is changing their lives. This group of young people got together and applied for a govt grant to take over this ruined space below the barrio. They got several old train cars and converted them into offices and a stage. They even got a old truck and turned it into a transportable radio. They are working with the local youth to keep them off the streets and give them a creative outlet. Kids can come play music, take lessons, make grafitti, or propose their own project. I was rather inspired. Then, yesterday morning we went to this NGO that fights for childrens rights. I think that is something we have taken for granted in the US because most kids are in generally safer situations. We walked in on this group of like 20 high school age kids, all from low income or risky households, who were putting together a play. They wanted us all to introduce ourselves (we are 12 women from all over the country) and say something we were concerned about for the children in the US. Then, they all spoke so eloquently about their goals as an organization and what they are learning. There was so much positive and hopeful energy in that room and when we all started applauding eachother for the work we are all doing, I started to cry. One of the leaders of our group is walking around with a video camera and he caught me in one of the most emotional moments of my life. I was so filled with joy for what they are doing and pain for the reasons that they have to work so hard. They are breaking down old social norms and creating the world that they want to live in. It took me all day to recover but I still really enjoyed the other organizations we visited. In the evening a couple of other girls, our leaders, and I went to a park to watch a movie and take part in a community debate about international trade agreements. Afterwards we went and had beers with our friends from the music/grafitti place and I got to know some more great people. Today we went to see this municipality within the city of Caracas where the opposition runs the govt. It was impressive to see how they have been able to enforce laws and make huge changes in the community. They use the system that Chavez has set up but they staunchly oppose his policies. Clear opinions were scarce but the successes were obvious. There is less fear of police, less crime, fewer street dwellers, and better health and education. It was important to see success in the opposition. Then, we went to the US embassy and met with reps. It was fascinating to say the least and it made me realize why people do not understand Venezuela. What we have experienced on the street has been very different from what they said they found on the street. What we saw as positive aspects of participatory democracy, they saw as threats to representative democracy. It was also important to hear their opinion although we ended up in a rather large debate at the end. Now I am going to chill for a little while with my friend because I need a break from all this thinking. Tonight we have to prepare for a television appearance we will make in the morning. I am secretly hoping that plan will fall through because I really dont want to be on TV. much love to all.
Looking forward to hearing about your plane trip. Have missed hearing from you. Mike and Marilyn
01 Jul 2007
18 Oct 2011 – start of travelblog
posted Thursday August 2007