Underdeveloped people 2
Against the cutting winds of the Bolivian mountain, the car went slowly over the edge of the valley in which La Paz lies. We were going to a village that is the oldest of the four Bolivian projects of the Andean mission. Behind us, across the valley, rain fell from the black clouds beyond the snowy mountain-tops. The wind and rain beat against the car as we travelled across the open fields to come to the yard of an old farm.
My trip had been planned at the last minute. Since the village has no telegraph or telephone services, no one was expecting me. All the driver knew was that I was a visiting ‘doctor’. (I had long since given up efforts to make people believe that I was not a doctor. When given this title I contented myself whit the explanation a man from El Salvador had given : ‘here anyone who wears a tie is called doctor’.)the driver showed me into a large room of the farmhouse where some twenty men were watching a film. It concerned the problem of a man could neither read nor write. But in the face of difficulties he managed to start an adult education class in his village. He did this so that he could learn to read and win his girlfriend’s respect.
From time to time during the film the lights would go on and during these breaks everyone introduced himself. They represented several countries: France, Holland, Peru. The other in the room were Bolivians, schoolteachers from the four Andean mission districts. They had been brought together for a three-week course in how to teach, and to add to their own education, which in several cases had not gone beyond the third grade. Though they had not had much training they had the help of great interest and, most important, they knew the native language. When the picture show was over the Bolivian teachers pulled on their warm wool caps, wrapped their blankets around them, and when off to their beds.
Some of the international teachers went with me to the kitchen, were the cook had heated some food. We talked of the troubles and the progress of school, until the lights were put one several times. This was a warning that the electric power was about to be shut off for the night.
During the first two years the village project had a difficult time. The mission had accepted the use of a farm from a large landowner, and the native believed a story that the lands would be returned to the owner after ten years. The mission began at a time when the Bolivian Government was introducing land –improvement laws. Most of the people believed that the officers of the mission were working for the owner, who was against the dividing up of the owner as possible. Not until the government took possession of the farm and divided the land did the feeling of the Indians toward the mission change for the better.