Maribel just turned 19 years old and her highest wish is to become a Foods Engineer. “It is a difficult career. Many times I was frustrated with practices and exercises”, says her, “but I did not abandoned, I asked, I studied, I read and read again until understand.”

Certainly Maribel had a very challenging first year at the public university but she knows this is a good thing. It is the result of years of support from her family and her ChildFund sponsor.

She was part of Avance Comunitario Program, a ChildFund local partner in La Paz, at the age of 8 Maribel was sponsored by Pascale, a French citizen and friendship was strong since the beginning. “Our communication was always fluid and constant”. A deep and warm relationship was born, full with respect and admiration. “I know my sponsor is a lawyer, she is married and has 3 children. They live in France and love traveling everywhere.”

 

Pascale is always writing Maribel, she sends letters, postcards, pictures, painting notebooks, necklaces, and other small gifts. Maribel saves all of her correspondence in a box. They are like a precious treasure. “She is a fairy godmother for me” says Maribel, “she is very close to my life, and she is part of my family too.” In her letters, Pascale always refers to Maribel as her “Bolivian sun”; in their letters you can instantly know this is a strong and beautiful relationship.

One of Maribel’s biggest wishes is to become a professional, to be able to help her mother. “I love and admire my mother, despite her rheumatism illness she works every day for us, she provides the family.”

“I would love to have my own business; I would love to travel someday. Maybe travel to France and meet Pascale in person. I would really like to thank her for all these years of friendship, support, advices and love”.

Maribel finished high school two years ago, “when I was at the school I loved coming to the Program, almost every days we meet here with my friends. Today I can’t come that much but I know all this effort will make proud all my family and of course Pascale too.”

“It is easy to give up. I have seen other boys or girls missing classes, skipping homework, and finally abandon the Career. Sometimes I feel I can’t continue too, but then I imagine my parents, my sponsor feeling disappointed; and I try it one more time. I know all of them made a big effort for my education. That’s why I am always practicing, solving extra exercises in math, physics or chemistry. I want them to feel proud of me.”

2941_historia_mis-suenos2 My name is Fabiola, I am 19 and live with my parents Emilio and Elsa, and my siblings José, Arminda and Fabian. This year is very special for me because I finished High school and I will study in a Gastronomy school near my home.  I believe this is the result of years of effort and knowledge earned in the Project Un Nuevo Caminar.

I’ve attended Un Nuevo Caminar Project for around 10 years,  participated in the Youth Club activities. I learned, for example, the importance for fulfill my dreams and chase my best opportunities to achieve something. One of them: become a professional chef and make my dream come true.

I am really thankful with Childfund and my sponsor Timothy, I have received a lot of support to reach my dream. With their advices and donations I had the chance to buy school material, and their letter encouraged me never to surrender.

The Project was an important part of my life. After school, I used to go to the Youth Club and participate in lots of activities about leadership, violence prevention or micro projects to improve solutions for my neighborhood with other boys and girls. That was a moment to share our experiences too.

I also had the chance to travel to other cities; I was chosen to represent my project in the National Clubs Meetings and gather with other Club members from Bolivia. There are so many good memories with my friends. I am very thankful for all those to ChildFund.

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Hi, my name is Lucía and I live in Cochabamba. My grandmother Marcelina raised me since I was 3 years old, we live together because my mom works and lives in another city

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I am grateful with my grandmother, we take care each other and I help her with some house errands

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Every morning we wake up early to clean our little house, feed our animals and cook. Then I get ready to go to the school

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It is 7 o’clock and I walk one hour to my school. I like being on time. My classmates live far from school too and walk to it either

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I am at home again, I must hurry and finish my homework before sunset, we don’t have electricity. We sleep early, tomorrow we must wake up early.

RAINY SEASON, CARE SEASON

Bolivia is in the middle of the rainy season. Santa Cruz is especially aware of it because it is mosquito season, diseases such as Dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika increases.

“Last August ChildFund Bolivia organized a workshop about the Zika virus, with medical experts from the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organization and the Health Ministry” tells Dr. Jaime Severich, the current Villa Alegre Project’s coordinator. “Our staff members, youth leaders and mothers attended the Workshop. We also invited medical staff from our neighborhood health centers. During two days we learned about the mosquito and its illnesses.”

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Now it is time to inform our community and teach them about the importance of how to be prepared. The Villa Alegre local partner participated in different community fairs. “We talked about the symptoms, what to do and how to behave if somebody has a fever”, tells Dr. Severich. “We also warned families about the importance of having a clean house, to prevent more mosquito breeding.”

 

Noel Kempff Health Center fair

This health center prepared a fair on September 20th. Villa Alegre’s youth leaders prepared a stand to educate and explain about the theme. Around 300 community members attended.

Campeche Oral Health Fair

The Villa Alegre local partner also organized its own health fairs, one in the Campeche neighborhood on November 17th. Campeche is a distant community with easy access issues, especially in rainy season because roads are flooded as are the houses. Around 130 community members attended the fair to learn about dental care and also to hear about the Zika problem and how to manage hygiene at home.

Villa Alegre Oral Health Fair

The same fair is organized in Villa Alegre’s main community center. On October 15th Villa Alegre’s health staff prepared a stand with Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya information. Around 150 family and community members attended this fair and learned more about the problem.

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“As soon as the rainy season begins, the problem with mosquitoes begins also” reminds Dr. Severich, “then, it is vital to prevent new mosquitos’ breeding grounds in any place: backyards, ditches, pots… This education process is very important to help the community.”

OUR FIRST STEPS TOWARD OUR FUTURE

Bolivian youth are changing the way of thinking in a new business. 62 youth were part of an innovating project funded by Barnfonden to help them to create and develop their own business plan.

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THE BEGINNING

Oruro is a small town located in the Bolivian southern side, last century the region had its golden era with mine activities but today most of its populations work with formal and informal commerce, due to the near Chilean border, this is the main economic activity. Youth in this town look for an income source to help their family but the lack of knowledge about basic business management is an obstacle. “There are courses about this but they are expensive”, tells Alvaro Vargas, ´Estrella del Sur´ program coordinator, “enrolled youth can´t afford them and their future is unknown. With this opportunity we can give a hand to great youth ideas.”

ChildFund Bolivia and Barnfonden from Sweden developed a project to help these girls and boys with free technical and financial instruction about business development, “we must help our families, this is a great opportunity because they give us technical training, and also materials are free. Of course we must compromise our time and commitment to complete the course and create our small business” says Diego, one of the youth entrepreneurs.

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THE PROCESS

This project had different steps: 62 girls and boys were selected by their ideas and commitment, each one with a business idea. There were chefs, artisans and engineers who trained them and helped to develop that primal idea. Then, they also learned about business image and marketing; of course finance managing took part in training too. “These boys and girls are an example for us. I know many of them since their first years. There is hidden genius among us” tells Isabel Mamani, ‘Jesús de Nazaret’ Project coordinator. “they learned about finance and numbers very fast. Suddenly they were able to calculate costs and benefits,” tells very happy.

“It is amazing how these young boys and girls have unique ideas”, tells, Mayra Andrade, chef in charge of baking courses. “They have huge expectations, and the most interesting is their age: fourteen, sixteen year-old boys but with big dreams.”

Finally, after 9 months of technical training, they can proudly present their ideas to the public. They managed to have an exposition in the local government hall. That morning investors and local authorities visited every stand where girls and boys explained their ideas.

THE RESULT

That day, eight projects were selected by different investors and other 42 are in a promising negotiating process. That new experience for all youth entrepreneurs was also a value lesson. “I feel I am a winner,” says Max, he is 16 and created an electrical repair services business, “despite I get an investment today or later, or if I must re think my idea, I know I can reach my goal now because learned how to improve my ideas.”

What comes next? Every project selected by an investor must prove it works; the other ones must improve some weak points to get investments too. Oruro might look as a small city but it is full of gigantic ideas for sure.

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What does play means for these children?

The sun shines this Sunday and around 50 boys and girls play in a soccer field. Small groups guided by a monitor perform different games, laughter and happy faces surround us. We ask some of the children: What are you up to? Their immediate answer is: we are learning!

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Students from ‘Mejillones’ middle school

This is a new method applied by Local partner ‘Renovación Madre Niño’ and other three Organizations in Oruro. It is called JuGAR, (PLAY in Spanish) focused on the development of physical and social abilities with children and teenagers. We had the chance to talk with Osmar Ramirez, a Youth club staff person in Oruro about it.

“While children play, they strengthen other abilities: leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, communication, conflict management… the list is long, but they have fun and learn about these important abilities” he tells us. “We identified that children live with different types of violence at home, in the school and their neighborhoods. We want to teach them about it and how to prevent these problems, how to talk about their Rights and live with empathy and resilience.”

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Osmar with a group explains game rules

Although these might be concepts that are hard to apply, this method helps children and youth to understand them. Every game has three steps: Theory, action and rethinking. “We explain to children the rules before the game, then we play and later, as a group, we meditate about the game and attitudes to incorporate other concepts,” explains Osmar. “This is a useful tool and we can use it with children from 8 to 18 years old because they love to run, jump, and play in the field. A couple of months ago we had a great experience with 175 children under 12 and everything was perfect.”

But what does JuGAR means? Juego (game) / Globalidad (globality) / Actitud (attitude) / Reflexión (reflection).

Juego (game): Create a playing environment, then it is a pleasant environment for positive learning.

 Globalidad (globality): There should be a multi-dimensional approach: motor, cognitive, affective and social.

 Actitud (attitude): The person in charge, (teacher, coach, technician), must have a dynamic, enthusiastic and positive attitude to make sure their students have fun and learn key concepts easily.

Reflexión (reflection): Children are active protagonists in the activity and learn through discovering and reflection.

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“In 2017 we want to train Sport teachers, then, they can apply our JuGAR method at the school” says Osmar. Right now though he must say good bye because another group is ready to play and learn this Sunday.

HOME, SWEET HOME

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Raquel (left), along with her siblings.

Raquel lives with her family in Urbanizaciones Unidas, a small neighborhood in Santa Cruz.  Local Partner Lucerito works with ChildFund Bolivia in the area. Raquel is 20 and is studying Architecture in public University; she had the opportunity to participate in a singular house building experience last weekend. This is her story.

Urbanizaciones Unidas is one of the peri-urban neighborhoods located in Santa Cruz and has many needs such as public sanitation or proper road access. But one of the problems Raquel’s family faces is the lack of living space. She shares her house with other 10 family members. Her family was chosen to have a transitional house built by TECHO Bolivia and funded by ChildFund Germany. Other 14 families in the area benefited with the project too. “I live with my parents, my grandma, two little siblings and now my sister has two children and lives with her husband with us,” she tells us. “My sister Yesenia will live with her family in this new place.”

Saturday 26th was the first day to build the structure. A big truck arrived early in the morning to the neighborhood’s sport field carrying wood products. More than 50 volunteers from TECHO Bolivia were waiting along with community members. “Everybody helps,” tells Ciro, a TECHO Volunteer, “We want to build the houses in 2 days. Today we can finish the floor and maybe the walls, family members can help of course.” Urbanizaciones Unidas used to be a garbage disposal area until people arrived; they worked very hard to clean it up and prepare it to live there. “Around 39% of Bolivian population lives in poverty, that means almost 3 million of inhabitants living with infringed rights,” points Roger Yance, TECHO Bolivia social director.

Saturday and Sunday the sun shines; but hot weather does not stop volunteers or Raquel’s family. “We must finish the roof before the sun rises and the heat rises” alerts Arturo, one of the volunteers. Raquel, her dad Rudy and her brothers worked very hard and the house is almost finished. “I am very impressed about these young people; their wish to help others is an example for my kids and for other children,” says Rudy. “It is like a big network build by them to help.”

Un sueño hecho realidad from ChildFund Bolivia on Vimeo.

Sunday noon, everybody is tired, the weather is hot but satisfaction over the good work is reflected on every face around the table. The community prepared a big meal for volunteers and neighborhood members. The work is finished and 15 families can say now `home, sweet home.´

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Home, sweet home!