Kimberly is 16 and lives in Oruro with her family near a hill called “Rooster’s Claw”. Every day she must walk carefully the old stone stairs to go downtown. At night she must climb the stairs again. Despite this climb she feels happy living there just because a few blocks up, at the top of the hill stands one of the most important monuments in Oruro, the big statue representing Mary, Christ’s mother and patroness of the city. This religious monument is visited by many people, national and international tourist every year; February and March are the highest seasons due to one of the biggest religious parties in Bolivia, Carnival.
“I love going out with my family to visit Mary’s monument, we have a marvelous landscape view from the city; especially at night.” Kimberly lives with her 3 younger siblings and her parents. “My mom is housewife, we study and my dad works. I will graduate from high school soon and I would like to learn some occupation because I’d like to help with my family’s economy too.” Unfortunately, the situation for teenage workers is not very good in Bolivia. Many of them wish to learn a technical ability but they lack the resources to do so.
ChildFund’s Local Partner in Oruro, Estrella del Sur, developed an entrepreneurship program with youth in 2015. Fourteen teenagers signed up to learn how to be a tour guide. “Oruro has a huge potential as a touristic destination” tells Alvaro Vargas, Estrella del Sur’ Program Coordinator, “Especially during Carnival season, Oruro also has many touristic places to visit and enjoy.” These youth learned about tourism, Oruro’s history, the region’s legends and tales for 8 weeks. After the training, Kimberly and her friends will be able to associate and offer tours, earn their own money and improve their lives.
“They taught us many things, even simple details as talking in front of the public, manage stage fright, talk properly… I was very shy and they helped me a lot,” tells Kimberly smiling. “Besides, I had the chance to visit beautiful places I didn’t know in my city.”
Kimberly and her friends created now their own organization, “Jóvenes guías turísticos”, and are preparing a business plan and searching for alliances with the local government.
“Now I can work as a tour guide, earn some money and help my family” tells Kimberly as we climb the last stairs up to the Virgin monument. “And of course, show the entire world this beautiful landscape.”