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The Latin American Workshop

Waleska Porras
San Jose Puerto Rico
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 43 No. 2, April-May-June 2007, p. 37

A beautiful colonial city, with centuries-old cobblestone streets and a magnificent volcano watching over it, was the perfect setting for the sixth Latin American Workshop, held in Antigua, Guatemala, from September 21-24, 2006.

Leaders and Applicants attended from all over: México, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and some from the United States. LLLI Board of Directors member, Rita Fishburn, and Yanet Olivares, International Division Director, also attended.

The workshop began on the afternoon of September 21, 2006. Our hostess, Zulma de Noriega, Area Coordinator of Leaders for Guatemala, opened the workshop with a fun and creative activity where we got to know each other better and learned a lot about the way we work.

We had sessions to cover all departments: Leader Accreditation Department, Publications, Communication Skills, Professional Liaison Department, and Leader Department. Monica Tesone, Division Professional Liaison Administrator, presented a session on a paper she wrote challenging the studies about the use of pacifiers and SIDS prevention, and another session about conflict resolution. Yanet talked to us about distributive systems and also about HIV/AIDS and feeding practices.

Our Regional Administrator of Leaders, Olga de Rosales, led a session on the responsibilities of an active Leader. Lucía Stone and Silvia Barco, co-Regional Administrators of Leader Accreditation, led a dynamic session that helped us review what happens during an application. They also had an opportunity to work with the Leader Applicants who attended. We had two sessions on publications, facilitated by myself, and we agreed to work on a standard pamphlet collection in Spanish. We plan to form a workgroup for this project and are looking for volunteers.

Rita told us all about the Code of Ethics and other news from the Board. Maria del Mar Mazza, Liaison to the Hispanic Community, shared with us important information from the LLLI Office and answered our questions about the new office building in Schaumburg, the LLLI Web site, and the new ordering systems.

We had sessions about the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, the new WHO growth charts, and mixing causes. There were two opportunities for Open Space with very interesting sessions: learning how to use technology to communicate within LLL, fundraising, increasing memberships, homeschooling, breastfeeding toddlers, and dealing with grief, among other topics.

One of the most memorable moments was when we welcomed two new Leaders who completed their LLL applications during the workshop. It's always exciting to welcome new Leaders, but in this case it was especially so. One of them, Marisol Viscaino, is from Venezuela, where there was no LLL until recently, when Laurence Descourtieux was transferred there from France due to her husband's job. Laurence wasted no time. Upon arriving, she started an LLL Group, found a couple of Applicants, and now, when she leaves the country, LLL will be represented in Venezuela for many years to come.

Not everything was work. We found time for some fun, which included music, dancing, singing, and sweet treats from different countries. And the Latin American Fair was a good opportunity to buy and sell books, handcrafts, and food.

As it always happens when we have the chance to meet face to face, the days flew away, but we managed to make the most of our precious time together. Our hostesses, the Guatemalan Leaders, went out of their way to make us feel welcome and opened their homes to those who wanted to stay a few extra days to visit Guatemala City.

The toddlers who attended also had a wonderful time with a preschool Waldorf teacher, Carmen, who generously volunteered her time from 9 am to 7 pm each day. The children had a playroom next to the conference room, where they had plenty of hands-on fun and nutritious snacks.

When the workshop was over, our RAL and several District Coordinators and ACLs went to Lake Atitlán for a mini-workshop. They stayed at the hotel of one of the local Leaders, who kindly offered a very special rate and her warm hospitality. Surrounded by a breathtaking view, they combined work and pleasure. Other Leaders went too, just for pleasure. And one of them, Vivian Montero, from Colombia, was persuaded to accept the position of ACL for FAiSA (Future Areas in South America), which had been vacant for over two years.

It was a very fruitful and productive workshop. We went back home exhausted, but with our tanks filled and very eager to continue working hard to support and promote breastfeeding in our little corner of the world.

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