Santa Rosa de Cuevo\Bolivia\2016

 

At Santa Rosa de Cuevo, Andrea Bocconi, psychotherapist and writer, held a workshop in autobiographical writing on the theme of identity:  retrieving the past and creating a future. In two classes made up of young students, he offered Psychosynthesis exercises in self-knowledge and the mastery over difficult emotions: anxiety at school is universal!

 

Verso Foundation aims to offer high standard education to the disadvantaged. In order to do this, we must first be willing to learn from the richness of the culture in which we are working, and have a humble attitude that is ready to exchange ideas. We do not seek to impart education, we seek reciprocally to enrich our cultures, to blend with and share them. If we were to go back home without having learnt anything, it would have been better not to leave in the first place.

 

“Santa Rosa de Cuevo in South Bolivia is a poor rural area. It is a small village, but has a school, from pre-school through to high school, which takes students from the whole district. What has Verso Foundation done in this out-of-the-way place?

To answer, we must go back 40 years to when Padre Ciabatti, a Franciscan from Chiusi La Verna, arrived there, after collaborating with the worker priests in the poor suburbs of Versilia. “The children were dying like flies; vaccines didn’t exist”. With the help of doctors from Florence and Catania, a training school for paramedics was established, and thousands of people were treated, many of them from the Guaraní ethnic group.

These are the Indio people, massacred by the Spanish and Portuguese, later by Bolivian landowners: Remember the film Mission, with Jeremy Irons in the role of priest and Robert De Niro as Captain Mendoza, the repentant Indio hunter? Indio is the generic, and wrong, name for the conquistadors. Columbus’s mistake has caused all these indigenous populations, which have different names, languages, traditions and cosmologies, to end up with the same label – one that seems harmless to us, but is pejorative to them.

In the end the Guaraní were ashamed of their “inferior” identity, took Spanish names, and no longer taught their children the language, so as to further integration. They had lost their traditions, the beautiful foundation myths, the profound relationship with nature and its spirits. Today we find redemption thanks to the presidency of Morales, himself an Aymara native.

After health care, education, and the visionary dream of a doctor-artist, Mimmo Roselli, who has been coming to Bolivia for thirty years, came the creation of an excellent art school – right here, where there is so little. First was music and weaving, which have always existed there, and today we find cutting-edge contemporary art. For three weeks international artists worked in the old monastery above the village, creating pieces that will remain there. They involved the children, students, and also the elderly, in their creative process, teaching and showing them that you can make art everywhere and with everything.

When the children who participated in the course of autobiographical writing exhibited their writings at the art festival, among sculptures, paintings and installations, they unexpectedly decorated the pages with extraordinary flourish: the handwriting too was visual art.”