LANZARTE – YOUNG PEOPLE LEARNING ABOUT DEMOCRACY

Young people throughout the world have to fight for their right to a voice. And in Bolivia’s traditional communities too, young people also have it tough: Limits are set on their rights of co-determination, jobs are hard to come by and they are pushed out of the public perception. The LanzArte project of Solidar Suisse, which TEXAID co-finances, enables young people to gain new self-confidence through theater and film projects and to bring about social Change.

TEXAID and Solidar Suisse
TEXAID was founded in 1978 as a private charity partnership of Solidar Suisse, together with five other Swiss relief organizations and a private partner. Their aim was to combine the traditional and until that time independent clothes collections into one professional value-added chain that was both ecologically and economically sound. Most of the proceeds generated by TEXAID from the sale of the collected textiles go to the six participating relief organizations. This money enables Solidar Suisse to finance some of its more than 60 projects worldwide. Solidar Suisse has been working for a socially, politically and economically fairer society since 1936. In developing and threshold countries, Solidar Suisse has been promoting fair working conditions, democratic participation and the upholding of human rights. When disasters occur, Solidar provides humanitarian aid and supports reconstruction. In these projects, Solidar works closely with civil society organizations. Solidar Suisse employs campaigns to raise the Swiss public’s awareness of the global interrelationships between poverty, fair work and consumer behavior.

Actual projects tackling discrimination and racism
Discrimination, violence, alcohol problems and lack of perspective: Bolivia’s young generation could have many reasons to feel resigned. With LanzArte, Solidar has launched a programme that counteracts hopelessness and that instills in young people their very own dynamism. It originated during the unrest among miners in 2006, in order to defuse conflicts and to get young people talking to each other. Young men and women now express their problems, ideas and projects through self-produced films, plays and radio programs, and by so doing gain both self-confidence and hope. This in turn increases their willingness to get involved for social issues, their own rights and democratic co-determination.

The young people of the mining town of Huanuni for example have succeeded in getting a new cultural center built on the town’s main square, which is open to all. In Copacabana, a theater group stages its own version of ’Swan Lake’ and questions gender stereotypes. The dance theater group in Cochabamba tackles the subjects of bullying and discrimination in schools. In Sucre and Rurrenabaque, young people have come together in film clubs and make short films that deal with subjects such as discrimination against young people with physical handicaps or violence within the family.

What all these initiatives have in common is that they do not stop at just pointing out problems. They put forward concrete suggestions about how solutions for a democratic and socially-just society can be found within communities. The communities are also the central pillar in terms of sustainability. The aim is to anchor in local authority budgets the cultural initiatives that have been initiated by the project, so that these initiatives will in future also be able to continue independently of the support from Solidar Suisse.

You can find more information about Solidar Suisse and the LanzArte project in Bolivia here.