Why people dressed as zebras dance in the streets of La Paz

On the face of it, the zebra programme is a playful way of making a point about traffic safety. But it’s also about changing lives. The programme moves at-risk youth from the shadows into highly public positions of civic authority. The training, structure, support services and social outlet — plus a monthly stipend of 688 bolivianos, or about USD 100 — helps the young men and women stay on track to finish school.

Marco Pachuri, a 24-year-old from La Paz, describes how the weekly work schedule, and support from the programme’s small team of psychologists, helped him become more accountable in day-to-day tasks like studying.

Pachuri’s mother abandoned his family before he enrolled in high school, and his father used to beat him. After his father’s business went bankrupt, Pachuri went job hunting as a teenager, assisting taxi van drivers and delivering crates of Coca-Cola to local businesses. That’s when the zebras caught his eye. “I would always see them in the streets, and sometimes they’d stop me,” he recalls. “I thought it was beautiful — they’d speak with everyone, kids, the elderly.”

Read the rest over at Citiscope. And yeah, that’s me in the photo!