A beautiful landscape

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Kimberly visiting rural areas in Oruro

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.

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The group visiting one of the archeological places in Oruro

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.”

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Night view of Oruro’s monument with blue light

Our firts steps with entrepeneurship

Jaime is 15 and lives in Oruro, one of the main cities in the southwestern side of Bolivia. Jaime is part of JORFEOR, a local youth goldsmith organization created with the help of ChildFund Bolivia and its Local Partner “Renovación Madre niño”. This small organization reunites sponsored and enrolled youth in Oruro.

 From November 20th to 29th, 2015 these youth attended Expoteco, the main commercial fair in Oruro, to sell the handmade jewelry and generate business with other buyers. We visited the stand and interviewed Jaime about this new experience.

 

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Jaime, (wearing the white jacket) selling at EXPOTECO

How do you feel about this experience? 

 I feel happy and excited. When I was chosen to attend the fair I was astonished. I have some experience selling things. I help my mom selling in the market since I was 7 years old.

During the first days at EXPOTECO I felt intimidated. There were a lot of people; some of them were big business men and business owners. We were just kids, but despite this fear we were able to talk with people, with customers and other business people. It was a challenge and we had to face it. Besides, this jewelry was made by our hands and this gave us confidence.

 

Were you prepared for this experience?

I had some experience as salesperson, this was some helpful. However this was a different kind of audience. People had more money and wanted good quality products. I realized I needed more experience on selling, talking and convincing people to buy my products.

 

What were you expecting for?

Well, my products were engagement rings, but somewhat of them were too big or too small for the customer’s fingers. I also learned a lot about planning and preparedness for selling. I feel confident because I also have a lot of requests and business intentions.

Our group sold about 35 items; we made some business contacts and our brand “ARCANGEL JOYAS” became known by others. At the end we started to enjoy the business movement and organization. In the future I would like to study Business Administration or create my own company.

 

Would you change something if you had the opportunity?

Well, one important thing is to work full-time in the stand. Since I am still attending school I worked at the stand just half time.

It is necessary to have more rings, for different finger sizes and different models. Now I know which ones people want and which are their favorites.

I realize it is also important to have a printed catalog, business cards and merchandising material.

I would also like to learn other goldsmith techniques and about selling strategies.  Of course, we want to sell more.

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Members of ARCANGEL JOYAS at the fair.

Sponsorship and Raquel’s Silver Lining

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Raquel displays some of the silver products she has made.

 Raquel, 19, is a young leader in her Bolivian community. We asked her to tell us about her sponsorship experience, what she’s up to now and her career plans. 

How would you describe your friendship with your sponsor?

I have a beautiful relationship with my sponsor. She tells me about her country and sends me pictures with beautiful landscapes, places where she goes with her family. She also tells me about her daily life and how she worries about me and my family. I love when she sends postcards.

 

What have you learned from your sponsor?

My sponsor is consistent about writing; we keep in touch often, and we know what is going on in each other’s lives. I learned a lot about the value of friendship with her. I think she is my best friend because she has taught me a lot about other places, about respect for the family. Her letters are written in a simple way but tell me a lot. I know she thinks about me all the time.

Tell me about the new activity you’re doing now.

The local partner in my community started a silversmith training program, and I was curious about how to work with silver and make a ring myself. The day I made my first ring, I was very happy and proud. I continued making other small pieces of jewelry, first during my free time, and now I am part of a small association.

Now that you have learned this skill, do you have future plans?

I would like to own a business, making jewelry with my own style. I would also like to teach other youth to make rings, earrings and many more things. Of course, I would also like to learn more about this art.

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Raquel is a sponsored girl She is now part of the Silversmith Program in Local Partner “Renovación Madre Niño” in Oruro, Bolivia. Caption: Raquel (center).

 I understand you are the association’s president. How do you feel about holding this position?

Well, all of my friends and partners elected me. They told me I am a responsible, dynamic and good friend, and they trusted me.

Now we run our association by ourselves. All of us are youth, and we learn something new every day. I know this is a big responsibility. All of us want to strengthen our small association.

What is your biggest challenge and biggest triumph?

My biggest challenge is to find the time to keep up with this new responsibility and stay on time. We want to build our own brand — not only a logo but an identity. We would like to be known in Oruro and throughout Bolivia.

My main satisfaction is to see us grow as people, both as silversmiths and as friends. Being at the silversmith workshop is fun. We all are friends and take care each other.

Understanding Yolanda’s problem

Yolanda is 9, she lives with her parents and brothers in Kara Kara. The Municipality garbage landfill is located near her neighborhood and the family house does not have basic services. Her mother takes care of their children at home. She speaks Quechua and can barely speak Spanish. Her dad works with the Municipality and sees the family only at night.

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Yolanda had troubles at schools, “my teachers were always mad about me, because I couldn’t read fast or understand the readings”, her mom wasn’t able to help her and Yolanda was feeling more desperate every year. She became a shy and quiet girl at the school.

ChildFund staff identified her problem and invited her to attend extra support classes at the Project “Obispo Anaya”. Yolanda began working with short reading exercises, practicing her memory and comprehension. The family had the chance to talk with her teacher and explain her about the new classes and exercises; she agreed and promised to help Yolanda too. Three times a week Yolanda attend the Project to practice and read with other kids.

Eight months later, Yolanda feels self-confident. “I can read and understand larger readings now”, tells us smiling. Her teacher also feels grateful, “The Project support is important for Yolanda, I feel this is a sort of help for me too.”

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Yolanda’s family can evidence positive changes too, José, her older brother tells us “Yolanda used to ask my help for every exercise and homework. Today she can do her homework by herself. My mom also is happier with all of us.”

“I couldn’t finish primary school,” tells us Yolanda’s mom. “My family hadn’t wnough money and we left school. I felt so sad because I couldn’t help Yolanda with her homework.” Says very regretful, “I would like her to finish School. With the Program support she can make it, I want my other children attend it too.”

I feel safer and happier now

My name is Elmer, I am 10 and I have four best friends in my Project. We do a lot of things every day, such as playing football or going to the Children’s Club in our neighborhood.

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At the beginning it was different. I was shy and my older sister used to take me to the Club. We ride a public bus because it is a bit far, although I was afraid of the other kids, I didn’t know them and maybe they would make jokes about me. That’s why I was always just next to my sister. One day the Club was working with photography cameras and they invited me to use one and learn about it.

They told us to make groups and take pictures in our neighborhood. Our group realized we don’t have water service, public lights and at night it is dangerous to walk alone. That’s how I met my friends.

Together we also learned about Leadership and team work. Now I realize the Children’s Club is a funy place to go after school.

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This week we started the ECC activities (Education and communication’s corner). They have great games, I am learning about drawing and writing.

Now it is not necessary to ask my sister to go with me to the Project. My four friends and I gather at the bus stop and attend the Club together.

HANDS-ON. LEARNING ABOUT NUTRITION

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“While analyzing growth and nutritional data we discovered a worrying tendency: after children under five gained weight, they returned back to a previous weight” remembers Sheila Maldonado, ChildFund ECD Specialist. “We needed to do something different to change this tendency.” Approximately 8 to 10% of evaluated children under five during in January had 1st and 2nd malnutrition levels.

ChildFund Local Partners in each geographical region contacted organizations specialized in nutrition, university professionals and hospital staff to teach mothers about nutrition and the best way to cook for children under five. Everyone agreed this was the easiest and fastest way to reach a simple objective but essential to change the odds.

A group of mothers baking bread in Cochababamba

A group of mothers baking bread in Cochababamba

In Cochabamba, the Albina Patiño Foundation trained every Local Partner in a series of workshops. “Thirty three mothers from Un Nuevo Caminar project attended and were very enthusiastic about learning new recipes” tells Dra. Pamela Lopez from the Project. “After that, we performed a demonstration where they cooked and baked everything they learned. The entire community had the chance to taste the food and get a free copy of the recipes to take home.” Everyone found amusing the taste and ingredients; meals such as lentil dumplings, oatmeal cookies or delicious salads with local ingredients.

DSC01087 In La Paz, the Sumaj Kausay organization took charge of the workshops. “We participated with 23 mothers, all of them with children under five” tells Moira Mendoza, Avance Comunitario manager. “Three days every week they learned new and fun ways to cook and bake nutritious food for their kids, mainly because here people eat many carbohydrate such as rice, noodles, potatoes, which aren’t very nutritious.”

More possibilities emerged from the new initiative. A recipe book is now published with all the recipes collected in the workshops and other sources. The book contains also advice and data about nutrition according to the national context.

Are there next steps? In October more children under five will be evaluated for growth and Local Partner staff will assess if this new approach worked as expected.

ALWAYS WITH A SMILE

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Beimar, learnig to overcome

Beimar is 18 now and every time you see him he is smiling. You may think Beimar’s life is quiet and happy but you might be surprised to learn about all the challenges he has overcome to become strong.

Beimar lives with his parents, Víctor (43) and  Lupe (42). A few years ago Victor was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Everybody in the family was alarmed with the news. Fortunately, doctors removed the the tumor successfully. “I was very happy,” says Beimar, “to enjoy my father’s company and advice for many more years.” However, another struggle would soon shock the family. Last year Lupe was diagnosed with cancer. The family was alarmed again until the doctors slowed the disease’s progress and now Lupe attends radiotherapy sessions.

Beimar with his mom Lupe

Beimar with his mom Lupe

Fortunatelly, Beimar and his family found support and friendship in Hellen, Beimar’s New Zealand sponsor. Hellen accompanied the family during those difficult moments; she also supported him with some money for Beimar’s school material. “Her letters and advice made me feel better in bad moments. I knew I had the company of a friend.”

Beimar and friends, participating ChildFund leadership programs

Beimar and friends, participating in ChildFund leadership programs

The support and company of his friends is also important, Beimar discovered many friends while participating in the Tiquipaya Project activities, today he is leader in the Youth Club. “Now I have a Life Project!” he says, smiling, “I want to be an Electromechanical engineer”. This year he applied to the Public University with successful results. Now he attends the first semester and feels optimistic about his future.

All these struggles affected the family’s economy. Beymar helps his parents by selling hardware small parts at the market and his father works as a taxi driver. “Financial resources are always limited, but we support each other.” says Beimar.

 Despite his difficult circumstances, Beimar smiles when talking with us and his friends at the Proyect. “I’ve learned to give support to all who need it, like my sponsor did for me and my family. The world needs more caring people because it is easier to overcome with good friends next to us,” he says smiling again.