Mentorship Program to Bolivia
The NGO Photographers Alliance will be holding a Mentorship program with partner organisation Sustainable Bolivia, a NGO that operates in the Beni Department of Bolivia in the town of Riberalta. Sustainable Bolivia is one of the largest independently-run NGOs in Bolivia and is actively involved in promoting ecotourism as a generator of the local economy, advancing sustainable conservation practices in order to protect the biodiversity of the rainforest, and supporting environmental education and research as a way to advocate for the protection of the Bolivian Amazon. Sustainable Bolivia facilitates many of their programs in the 20,000 hectare Aquicuana Reserve, which they helped establish in 2016 in collaboration with Pisatahua Ecolodge, the Riberalta Municipality and the communities of San José and Warnes.
WHAT DOES THE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM ENTAIL?
This Mentorship program is an intensive 8 day program combining photography workshops, private 1 on 1 mentor feedback sessions, participation in NGO-related activities in conjunction with Sustainable Bolivia as well as an overnight stay to Pisatahua Ecolodge. Each program has the purpose of introducing participants to new photography techniques and encourages each individual to pursue photography as it aligns with their own interests, skills and humanitarian focus. Each program only caters to a small number of participants, thus enabling participants to engage more closely with the mentor as well as members of the NGO and the local community. Participants embarking on this Mentorship Program will visit the offices of Sustainable Bolivia and visit various community locations where their projects are carried out. At the conclusion of the program, participants have the opportunity to continue travelling in Riberalta or to other destinations in Bolivia.
FUNDING FROM EACH MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
How we support our interconnected programs
What does the cost include?
The cost for the Mentorship program includes a complete itinerary consisting of a combination of photography workshops, private 1 on 1 feedback sessions with your mentor, activities carried out in conjunction with the NGO as well as the support and guidance of an experienced photography mentor who will be on hand for the full length of the program. Participants will be staying in private single rooms in the town of Riberalta for 6 nights of the program and 2 nights at Pisatahua Ecolodge which is located 2.5 hours from Riberalta.
Local transport in Riberalta between various project sites are also included in the program fees.
The cost of the Mentorship program do not include costs for airfare, visas (if required), transport between the airport and NGO site/accommodation, travel and health insurance, personal expenses and spending money, police certificate, tips for the mentor or guides, and/or any other non-itinerary related item. A certificate for Vaccination against Yellow Fever is also mandatory for Bolivia. Meals are not included during the segment of the program where participants are in Riberalta; during the stay at Pisatahua Ecolodge, meals will be provided.
At the completion of the Mentorship program, participants should have sufficient material to begin putting together a portfolio of NGO-related photography. In addition, participants may be invited to feature their work in the pages of our affiliated humanitarian publication The Travellist magazine.
When travelling in a South American country, it is important to keep an open mind and allow yourself to enjoy the experience and not become frustrated simply because things may be done in a way that is different to what you are used to. Amenities that you may be used to back home may not necessarily be available. Respect the local way of life. Go with an open and understanding attitude. And above all, be patient.
Please note that this may be subject to changes as required by the needs and criteria of the partner NGO and thus should only be used as a guide. In addition, please note a police certificate is recommended when working with NGOs; a police certificate can be obtained from your local police agency and is worthwhile in obtaining should you plan on working in the NGO field.
Monday, Day 1
Participants arrive at Riberalta Airport (Capitán Av. Selin Zeitun Lopez Airport) where they will be greeted by a staff member from Sustainable Bolivia who will take them directly to the NGO-provided accommodation.
Your program mentor will be present upon arrival at the accommodation. Depending on your arrival time, you may also have time to walk around to get your first impressions of Riberalta.
A group dinner in the evening for participants to introduce themselves and get to know one another.
Briefing to be given by your mentor.
Tuesday, Day 2
Photography workshop (I) for the participants with your program mentor.
Morning / Afternoon
Individual 1-on-1 portfolio session with the Mentor discussing participant's current body of work as well as participant's expectations and goals over the course of the program. This is an opportunity to sit down with your program Mentor and discuss individual areas of concerns; strengths and perceived weaknesses; and your career goals moving into the future.
Participation in NGO activities. Visit the offices of Sustainable Bolivia and meet the staff to learn more about their initiatives. Activity will be finalised closer to the dates of the program.
Wednesday, Day 3
Photography workshop (II) for the participants with your mentor.
Visit to Sustainable Bolivia's partner organisations. The exact organisations will be finalised closer to the dates of the program depending on the availability of the staff and community members. Sustainable Bolivia has 7 partners operating in and around Riberalta in the sectors of education, health and the environment. Together, they form a localised network with the main focus on supporting orphaned and/or disadvantaged children. On this first visit, participants will interact with staff members as well as the beneficiaries of these organisations to hear their stories, understand the challenges at hand and see how the work of these organisations impact the local communities.
Editing time. Participants may use this session to backup their photography and begin reviewing their images captured over the past few days for editing.
Thursday, Day 4
Photography workshop (III) for the participants with your mentor.
Participation in Sustainable Bolivia activities. Activities will be finalised closer to the dates of the program though the focus will be on ecotourism and conservation. As an NGO operating in the boundaries of the Amazon Rainforest, careful consideration must be taken in order to utilise the available natural resources in a sustainable manner without leaving irreversible damage to the local ecosystems, initiatives that must be coordinated with the local communities in order to ensure a lasting legacy for future generations of young Bolivians. Participants will learn about these initiatives firsthand and at the same time realise the importance of environmental education as well as biodiversity research.
Editing time. Participants will need to backup their photography and review the selection of images that will be presented for the final feedback session.
Friday, Day 5
Microfinancing Workshop. Sustainable Bolivia facilitates their own Micro Grant Program which directly aids their partner organisations through small grant investments. Participants will learn what microfinancing entails, how it benefits and empowers beneficiaries who receive these grants, and (depending on availability) will also have the opportunity to witness a case study firsthand on the field.
Visit to Sustainable Bolivia's partner organisations. Following on from the first visit earlier in the week, participants will have the opportunity to use this afternoon session to work directly with community members.
Prepare to leave for Pisatahua Ecolodge the following morning.
Saturday, Day 6
Participants will leave Riberalta with the program mentor and travel to Pisatahua Ecolodge for a 2 night stay.
Pisatahua Ecolodge is an integrative plant-medicine and ayahuasca retreat, located in a remote area of the Bolivian Amazon. Ayahuasca is a brew used in traditional spiritual medicine by the indigenous people of the Amazon, which is made by combining the leaves of the Psychotria viridis plant boiled together with the vine of the Banisteriopsis caapi. P. viridis contains the psychoactive compound DMT while B. caapi contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs); ingested as a brew, the combination causes chemical effects on the brain to which users have described as a heightened sense of "spiritual awakening."
Located 2.5 hours drive from Riberalta, Pistahua Ecolodge functions as a retreat for those seeking integrative & holistic healing, and offers services including yoga, meditation, complementary healing practices such as holotropic breathing, Reiki and Tai Chi, as well as physical activities such as hiking, fishing, canoeing and bird watching. Alongside Sustainable Bolivia and other local partners, Pisatahua Ecolodge also helped establish the 20,000 hectare Aquicuana Reserve, home to the communities of San José and Warnes and considered an area of high biodiversity.
Overnight stay at Pisatahua Ecolodge.
Sunday, Day 7
Second day at Pisatahua Ecolodge. Participants will visit the communities of San José and Warnes (details to be confirmed closer to the dates of the program.) Warnes is a community of an estimated 420 members that was established in 1957 by farming families looking to utilise the resources provided by the lake. Today, the inhabitants make a living through agriculture, fishing, husbandry and harvesting of natural resources. San José is a smaller community of about 150 people established in 1975 and who today make a living through subsistence farming or work found in Riberalta. As there is no running water or electricity in this community, San José is considered less developed with the lack of amenities affecting the overall standard of living of community members here.
Depending on the duration of the visits to the communities, participants may also have free time for the rest of the day to relax, meditate, work on their editing, or take part in optional activities such as hiking in the rainforest, fishing in the lake, or canoeing.
Overnight stay at Pisatahua Ecolodge.
Monday, Day 8
Travel back to Riberalta from Pisatahua Ecolodge.
Final individual one-on-one feedback session with your program mentor covering the work carried out over the course of the program. All elements of your portfolio will be discussed.
Have your personal program objectives established in the first feedback session been met? What are your next steps from here on?
Final group dinner together. Debriefing by your mentor.
Participants to fly out the next day or continue independent travelling in Riberalta or to other regions of Bolivia the following day.
END OF PROGRAM
All participants to the Mentorship program must read and agree to the Mentorship Terms & Conditions before participating in the program.
Please note that all costs are in AUD (Australian Dollars) unless stated otherwise. Our recommended payment method is via Transferwise as this enables you to pay in your own currency using the mid-market rate, which is the real exchange rate and is significantly higher than those used by banks and/or by your credit and debit card providers. Please proceed to the Shopping Cart page for more information about this payment method (found under direct bank transfer option.)
A deposit equal to 25% of the program cost is required to secure your place on the Mentorship program. The full costs must be paid prior to 4 weeks before the commencement of the program; failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of your deposit. Should a program be unable to progress for any reason, you will be notified at the earliest possible date and your deposit (or other payments) will be returned to you in full.
To reserve your place on the program, please access the deposit page here.
If you have any questions in regards to the Mentorship program, we welcome your inquiries. Please use the contact form below to reach us and we will endeavour to return your inquiry as soon as possible.