Faces of Capayque, Bolivia

Another in a series from the First United Methodist Church of Stillwater Oklahoma’s mission group, providing healthcare (and more)  in Capayque, Bolivia.

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My primary role as part of the team in Capayque was as a photographer.  Beside pictures for my own use, I’m hoping some of the images can be used by the Bolivian and Oklahoma churches to raise money or awareness for the work they’re doing down there.

Also, I took along a small portable printer and enough paper to crank out hundreds of prints to give away to the people in Capayque — most of whom seemed to have few if any pictures of themselves or their families.  This was a big hit with the townspeople — almost toooo big a hit.  Everybody wanted a print.  And then another; then another….  They yelled “Foto!  Foto!”  at me (making a rectangle shape with their fingers) every time I showed my face.  There were borderline mobs chasing me a couple of times.  Hopefully, some of these folks who would never have had a picture of their mom or dad or kids or grandparents will have one to keep and remember.

I was amused and interested that the folks there were terrible “posers.”  They’re not accustomed to having their picture taken, so too often they were ridiculously stiff and stoic, or embarrassed and giggly and hiding their faces.  I used a lot of my pitiful Spanish to try to coax a smile (though several times I realized my subject spoke only the Aymara language).

I’ve already shown a few of the “portraits” I took for this purpose; here are some more.  It’s also a good chance to see close-up what the mostly-indigenous people of this region look like.

(The big photo gallery just below may take a minute to load.)

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At the school, I was recruited to take a group picture of the entire school.  The principal wanted to hang it in his office.  Even though my printer would print no bigger than a 4×6, this was all they’d have.  I got some shots of the school assembly they did on Monday morning.  We were treated as visiting dignitaries mostly because Team Member “Professora”  Becky Szlichta was a teacher.   It was unclear if they did the program just for us or if they did this all the time).  I made sure I had “senior pictures” prints for all the graduating sixteen-year-old class (in the green sweaters).

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The entire student body of Capayque schools.