• Written by Kathelyne van den Berg
    16 December 2011

The thing that really sticked from our Really Simple Video training was that a simple video is less than 3 minutes or as Mark Charmer calls it in his Spanish “Menos de Tres Menutos”. All the partners were joking about this but this also means that it really got in to their heads to keep the videos short.

Mark Charmer interviewing Hermana Montserrat Font in Trinidad Pampa, Bolivia. Photo by Kathelyne van den Berg

After training the partners in doing Really Simple updates and videos in La Paz, we visited a couple of partners working in the C4C consortium.

It is not easy reaching Trinidad Pampa in Yungas with the El Camino de la Muerte ahead of us. An hour from Coroico, we visited a school project led by local NGO Fe y Alegría. Unfortunately we were misinformed and the children were on holiday.

However we did speak with Hermana Montserrat Font, the sister at the school, about the conditions the children are learning in.

What we experienced in the field is that it is not always easy for field teams to visit projects and keep the mind focused on how to capture information that is gathered during a visit. I guess it’s a mind shift that needs to be made – from monitoring the partners and projects to also actually report on them to the outside world. But that is why we, Akvo, went with the partners on this field visit to show that it really is as easy as we say it is!

We tried to encourage partners to realise that capturing insights – good and bad – is a really powerful way to forge a connection and bring to life the people involved, and the issues they face. Here’s such a video – Mark films IICD’s Wietse Bruinsma as he interviews the sister at the school, talking about the unsuitability of some of the educational materials they’ve received.

The second day we drove a head to Oruro a mining city in the South of Bolivia, here Educatic organised a Feria Educativa for schools in the area, the schools showed how they use educational games so that the children learn mathematics and/or about the Bolivian culture in a fun way also learning how to use a Computer. The children showed us how the games work and the teachers learned from each others games and of course large prices where there to win!

On Saturday 10th December we reached Challapata after a 2 hour drive to the South – this is a really small and remote town. Here we visited together with FAUTAPO the biggest Organic Quinua plant of Oruruo. Again the facility was not in use (a stock inventory apparently) but we got an interesting tour through the plant. We were not allowed to take photo’s but the Quinua from this plant is exported to Brighton, just an hour from Mark Charmer’s home. The world is so big and so small at the same time.

I was able to use this trip to do our first SMS update testing in South America. Because of the remoteness of some areas in Bolivia you often have to manually search for a provider. But when I found one all my messages did get through and the testing was a success. Here you can see the test SMS in Oruro and in Challapata.

For an impression you can find Mark Charmer’s flickr set of Yungas here and mine here.

Kathelyne van den Berg is programme manager for the Connect4Change consortium at Akvo.

"Kathelyne van der Berg is Akvo's Chief Financial Officer and has been a co-director of the organisation since 2014. You can follow her on Twitter @Kathelyne