A day in Cochabamba

Photography by Steve Camargo

Nancy is 37 years old and the mother of two children. She lives in the Pacata Alta zone on the Eastern slope of the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Pacata Alta is home to more than 25,000 inhabitants, mostly migrant miners who relocated there in the 1980s.

It is also home to the Edmundo Bojanowski Alternative Education Centre (AEC). This is where Nancy started to take gastronomy classes that changed her life and that of her family.

The Edmundo Bojanowski Alternative Education Centre, with the support of DVV International, offers young people and adults primary education, secondary education, as well as classes in gastronomy, accounting, textile manufacturing and computer systems. Classes are offered in two shifts, in the afternoon and evening. The AEC reaches altogether more than 400 participants between the age of 15 and 50.

Many of the women who participate have children. Some of them are single mothers living in precarious situations. With classes running in the afternoon and in the evening, the centre allows these women to work during the day. Many of the participants started their own businesses after attending the gastronomy class. This is what Nancy did when she established her family shop and restaurant with the support of her sisters. Today 15 people earn their livelihoods in the enterprise, including children, nephews and other relatives.

Working, learning and caring for a family is a tough job. Nancy is always busy, but also very proud of what she has achieved.

Bolivian photographer Steve Camargo spent a day with Nancy for Adult Education and Development, showing us how education has changed her life.

4.30 AM It`s a cold winter morning in Cochabamba, the third city in relevance in Bolivia’s economy and population. Nancy starts her day, as any other working day, in the beautiful wooden kitchen built by hand by her husband
As the oven starts to heat up, Nancy begins her early baking routine preparing “brazo gitano”, a sweet cake that can be served as breakfast as well as dessert. She learned to bake this cake during her classes at the adult education centre
5.30 AM The first cake is almost ready
Baking one “brazo gitano” cake takes around 30 ­minutes. In a good morning, Nancy bakes 4 to 5 cakes
She sells them as full cakes on order to private customers, and by the slice as part of ­breakfast served in the family restaurant
At 7 am, Nancy arrives at the family restaurant and store located in front of Semapa, a local water treatment company. Each day at least a hundred hungry Semapa workers come for breakfast and lunch
7.30 AM Together with her niece, Nancy serves around hundred breakfasts and other meals between 7:30 and 9:30, ...
... mainly to workers of Semapa and students from the nearby school
10.00 AM By 10 o’clock, all the women of the family have some time to relax, sharing breakfast and the sun, a daily family tradition
12.00 PM Nancy is taking orders from foremen who are planning the meals for their teams
In the family restaurant, Nancy works as cook, waitress and cashier, ­depending on the time of the day. When the last guests have left after lunch, she helps to wash the dishes and wash the restaurant floor. She then – sometimes in a rush – leaves for the adult education centre, where she takes cooking classes
4.00 PM Inside the classroom, Nancy becomes a student again. This is her receiving some advice from her cooking instructor
It is not a quiet classroom, but rather the harmonious sound of a baking friendship. Under guidance, Nancy learns every day, and teaches younger students every day as well ...
... This kind of sharing knowledge, learning and teaching is something very common in Bolivia’s traditional ­culture: You teach the ones you love how to cook
Nancy finished high school in 2016 before joining the gastronomy classes. Her two sons are also in high school.
5.30 PM After a hard working day, Nancy will return home and spend some time with her family. Before bedtime, she will clean and store her baking moulds so that they are ready for the next day, when she will be up before the first sunlight