Today is the Dia del Niño, the Day of the Child. All the elementary schools (K-8) celebrated the day with speeches, presentations, games and snacks. The principal of the government school asked the children: How much is a child worth? The children guessed – five bolivianos ($.70)? One hundred bolivianos? The price went up slowly as they made more and more extravagant guesses. He reminded them that children have no price – that they are priceless. Like the Mastercard commercial, only very sweet in the context. He reminded them that the Day of the Child was established in Bolivia in the 1950s and that all children have a right to enough food and a home where there is no violence.
In fact I read that 95% of the families here in the highlands experience nutritional challenges at various times of the year, especially in January before the harvest begins. There are no visible signs of malnutrition here in town, though fruit and milk products seem to be luxuries not affordable to many. Quinoa, an excellent high protein and low fat grain, has risen in price since the developed world has discovered it. Food prices in general have increased dramatically in the last year, since the gas subsidy was increased. Sugar is up 100%. Most children seem to attend school, though even this morning during the Day of the Child celebrations I noticed a number of school-aged children in town selling gelatin desserts to passersby, while others sold produce on the street or shined shoes.