I’m on the road this week, visiting ChildFund programs in Bolivia, where we’ve worked with local partners since 1980.
Yesterday, we visited children and families who live in the impoverished urban areas of Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s second largest city. The rainy season is just starting, and the roads to get to the neighborhoods where we serve thousands of families were just terrible. Even in this urban area, we traveled probably 20 minutes on unpaved roads, with huge puddles of water and mud everywhere. The rainy season brings on many ailments in these communities, including diarrhea, respiratory and skin infections as well as deadly dengue fever.
In the neighborhood of Lero de Mayo, where our local partners Villa Alegre and Lucerito have been working with ChildFund’s support and technical assistance for almost 16 years, families opened their homes and hearts to us.
I had an opportunity to talk with Jimmy, now 19 and previously sponsored. He’s very close to graduating from high school, and his parents are so proud of him. He’s a confident young man, willing to support his parents, little brother and sister, and also eager to continue with his education. He wants to become an architect. Jimmy’s at the top of his class and hoping to get a government scholarship to go to university. I was happy to see such strong support for education among the community’s parents. Their desire for their children to continue with their education is key to their children’s success.
We also visited Maria Elena, a mother of nine children, six of whom are still at home. A few years ago, they received a cow through ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog. The girls named the cow Regina, and for Maria Elena the cow was the “greatest surprise and blessing.” The cow provides a steady supply of fresh milk for the girls during their growing years and enough extra that Maria Elena is able to contribute milk to the community center each week to help reduce malnutrition in other children. When Regina has a baby calf, Maria and family give the young calves to other families so that this chain of benefits can continue to extend and multiply in the community.
It’s gift of love that truly gives hope to communities like this one in Bolivia.