Cochabamba - In the far south, winter is just around the corner. Cochabamba is situated at an altitude of 2,5000 metres and there is a large variation in temperatures. Many Bolivians wear heavy clothing even if the morning temperature is 30 degrees.
The Inter Campus Bolivia project involves 150 children and five local coaches.
Like every Saturday morning, our local contact Massimo Casari goes to the men’s San Sebastian prison to collect the children of prisoners and to bring them to the recreation centre in the Ticti Nord area. Mothers visiting their husbands in prison take their children with them. Here, our activities revolve around engaging the children of detainees and keeping them out of the prison environment for a few hours.
For our visit with Massimo and local coach Victor, we reach the prison aboard one of the typical colourful city buses and already there is a sense of tension at the entrance with the prisoners caught up in a revolt. Only a few children quickly approach and board the bus. In front of us are the two floors of the prison with small barred windows that the prisoners look out of. On the roof, there are improvised sheet metal structures to deal with overcrowding but also clothes and football boots hanging up that make it seem like a normal apartment block. The mothers and parents visiting are removed and the police arrive in armoured vehicles to prevent escape attempts.
Back on the bus, we head toward the recreation centre and the children are brought into another dimension as the educators prepare breakfast for them and they all train together on the small pitch.
At the end of the visit, we organised a tournament for all the children on the parents’ request and a meeting with the parents who prepared a snack with the local specialities of empanadas de queso and saltenas.