Our work in Bolivia
Hope reaches families in Bolivia
Unbound's sponsorship outreach in Bolivia began in 1988 and serves families in the country’s three main cities and surrounding communities through three projects: Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and La Paz.
More than 30 percent of the population lives in rural areas, and many people work in agriculture. At urban centers, many families earn a living through informal commerce —washing laundry for others, laboring at brick factories or construction, or selling street foods, to name a few. Nearly a fourth of the population earns less than $1 a day.
Many children leave school to help their families on farms or to assist in their family’s commercial activities. Others leave because they cannot afford supplies or other school-related expenses.
Unbound sponsorship offers these children and their families opportunities to build a path out of poverty. The program offers vital support and encouragement and assists with basic resources.
Benefits vary depending on the needs expressed among the different communities. Nearly all sponsored friends in Bolivia receive birthday and Christmas celebrations, nutritional assistance, clothes and school uniforms, and educational support such as school supplies and tuition assistance. They also receive health and dental care and nutrition assistance, and each project has a scholarship program. However, one of the most meaningful benefits of being a part of Unbound is the sense of community and belonging developed among sponsored friends and their families.
Through their participation in the Unbound program, families in Bolivia can discover in one another and within themselves the tools, talents and strengths needed to overcome the economic and historic cycle of poverty for their families and communities.
Cochabamba communities find ways to make more 'dough'
After learning to make pastry during workshops offered through the sponsorship program, enterprising mothers from the Cochabamba project used their new skills to generate income. Their baked goods became an immediate hit at nearby street corners and bus stops.
The Sagrada Familia program formed a cooperative in which four mothers take turns baking 1,000 to 1,200 items every day. Each mother earns $41 per month. The mothers say the income allows them to purchase daily necessities for their families, including medicine and bus fares.
These programs not only provide additional income for the families, but also give them a sense of accomplishment, community and the opportunity to learn business skills that can help them on their path to self-sufficiency.
Family groups empower and offer hope
Two years ago the Cochabamba project coordinator visited India to witness its thriving Unbound mothers groups.
The visit sparked the idea for mothers groups in the Cochabamba project, which were adapted for Bolivian culture and realities. The groups incorporate other family members, not just mothers.
The family groups provide space for members to share their problems and experiences, advise one another and experience a support network. There is a feeling of empowerment and hope for a brighter future.
Personal training for individual and economic growth
The Bolivia projects focus on building up families through education so that families may become self-sufficient.
The La Paz project offers several activities to achieve this goal, including literacy classes for parents of sponsored children. Literacy is an important way to increase future opportunities and earning potential. Literate parents can seek jobs with better hours and pay.
The Santa Cruz project, among other programs, also offers skill-building classes in many areas such as decorating fabrics and shoes, painting, baking and more. These classes are open to youth and adults.
Widowed father offers inspiration, wisdom
Families living in conditions of extreme humility and economic poverty show great resourcefulness in overcoming challenges and making the best use of their environment.
Dario, the widowed father of two children in the Unbound sponsorship program, helps his neighbor grow potatoes as a way to help provide for his family. In return for his labor, he gets to keep some of the potatoes and dehydrates them to preserve them for other seasons of the year.
These dried potatoes, called chuño, help supplement the volume and caloric value of the family's diet when food is scarce.
Dario is grateful for Unbound's encouragement and support. In return, and as an inspiration to all, Dario freely shares his wisdom of watching the seasons to note precisely when the potatoes should grow, when they should be harvested, and when to set them out to dry.
“Everything,” he says, “has its time.”