Tag Archives: CUSO-VSO

I’d Like To Introduce The Other Members Of The Band.

Before I go any further, you’ve read me describe that I’m hear as part of a two person team, and yet, I’ve failed to introduce my partner. Anouk Desorilliers is a freelance journalist for CBC-Radio Canada. I take pride in knowing that there were approximately 70 photographers that applied for one of the seven volunteer positions, which in itself is noteworthy and might be something I expand on over the next five weeks.

However, there were approximately 120 applicants for the journalist positions. Our team includes freelance photographers, writers, journalists and short-documentary film-makers as well as current and past staff from The Globe & Mail, Vancouver Province, the CBC & BBC. My point is simply to express how honoured I am to be in such amazing company.

Anouk brings a great deal of experience to the story telling half of our mission and I know that I have my work cut out for me in matching her.

How CUSO-VSO made their final decisions, only they know. However, although it wasn’t necessary for every posting, I strongly suspect that language skills played a significant roll in paring up Anouk and me. I am a native Spanish speaker and her’s is very, very good. While Anouk, is a native French speaker and mine is pretty good. We won’t be needing our French language skills, but none-the-less, I suspect that it played a roll in our paring.

I want to draw something to your attention with regard to navigating the photo galleries. You may have selected an image and seen that a larger version opens. However, you may not have noticed that it isn’t necessary to close each photograph before opening the next one. After selecting anyone of the images and viewing the larger version, hover your mouse over either side of the photo (except the first and last photos, which don’t have an arrow because the images don’t wrap) and an arrow will appear. Simply navigate using those arrows and soon you’ll stop cursing me.

Next time you hear from me I’ll bring you up to date with my first impressions of La Paz, my living accommodations, food, stuff like that. For now I’ll leave you with a vantage point view of a small part of the city with snow-capped Mount Illimani at 6,462 m in the distance.


Bolivia, Minus One Week And Counting

On October 22nd of this year, I will be travelling to Bolivia as a volunteer for CUSO-VSO, a Development Aid NGO (Non Governmental Organization), for five weeks.

As one of seven, two-person teams of experienced Photographers & Journalists that have been posted around the world, our objectives are to photograph and write frontline stories related to various projects in which CUSO-VSO volunteers are currently involved.

The material we gather will be used to help recruit future Volunteers, and for fundraising efforts to collect much needed Donations. But I’m not fooling anybody; this is going to be an amazing trip, in more ways than one.

CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) celebrated it’s 50th anniversary this year, and much has changed around the world, since 1961. Whereas CUSO initially sent volunteer students to developing countries, whereby they could gain valuable work experience, while contributing to local aid projects, the average age of today’s volunteer is around 43.

CUSO-VSO distinguishes itself from other NGOs by sending volunteers with valuable experience, not money. By placing teachers, nurses, engineers, agronomists, IT Specialists etc. the local communities gain the knowledge and experience that might be more difficult if not impossible to acquire locally.

Although, volunteers working overseas, donate their time and experience, there are, none-the-less, costs associated with sending each volunteer, ranging from a week of Pre-Departure training in Ottawa, to vaccines, to air and land transportation, food and lodging and insurance, as well as other project related expenses.

As volunteers, we are asked to help defer the cost of future postings by undertaking Fund Raising, and that is where you come in. By sending people rather than money, to areas of the world in need of assistance, you always know how your donation is being spent and where its going. Furthermore, no one can hijack, warehouse and resell your goodwill.

If you believe in magic, then any donation you can make, however small it may seem, will grow nine fold. For every dollar donated to CUSO-VSO, the Government of Canada, through CIDA, will match your generosity to the tune of 9:1. That means that every dollar you donate will magically turn into Ten Dollars. With your well-meaning help, I am confident that we, you and I, can quickly raise the funds necessary to send the next volunteer overseas on our behalf.

Since you’re reading this message, donating couldn’t be any easier. In the sidebar that runs down the right of this Blog Posting, you’ll find a Donate button. That is linked directly to my Fund Raising Page on the CUSO-VSO website. See, I told you it couldn’t be any easier.

Regardless of whether or not you can donate to CUSO-VSO, I hope you will Subscribe to receive an E-mail notice, each time I publish a Post, or sign up for the RSS feed, and you’ll have a front row seat to some of the photographs I’ll be producing as well as personal musings.

In preparing for this assignment, I’ve subjected myself to a cocktail of vaccines, gathered together all the necessary paperwork and whittled my baggage down, to the bear minimum. Our itinerary is going to keep us busy, moving over rough terrain, and we’re heading into the rainy season, so traveling light will be challenging. Experiences like these are all the more enjoyable when shared, so allow me the honour of doing so, with you.

Hasta Pronto,
Miguel Hortiguela