Social Justice in Bolivia

The alarm sounds, this is no ordinary day. Jose knows this, and he wants to be ready as soon as possible.  He carefully selects his clothes, feeling for the textures and shapes that will help him identify the garments.

Pedro Pacheco working in Bolivia

It’s not just any day; he knows that after eight months of study, preparation and hard work. He remembers how ridiculous it sounded when he heard first that a blind person could start a business alone. Maybe elsewhere, he thought, but it could never happen in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He thought about the streets that he couldn't walk down, and the opportunities that had been denied to him, and how he had resigned himself to a life working as a street vendor. When someone had told him he could be an entrepreneur, he thought it was ridiculous- nobody would accept a businessman with a visual impairment.

Nonetheless, he embarked on eight months of training, and began to break the shackles that had restrained him, like the idea that his impairment meant he couldn't achieve like other people. Gradually, he began to see that the barriers he faced were a social injustice that could be fought against, rather than something he had to live with.

It is not just a typical day. He knows that he carries the hopes of his teachers and mentors on his shoulders. With the support of International Service, today he opens his bakery. Today, he aspires, works and achieves just like anybody else.

This is what social justice means in Bolivia. 

© Nadia Erlam

Volunteer with us on the ICS scheme