As we set off to visit children and families in our ChildFund Bolivia programs, we travel through very poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of La Paz. About one hour from the city’s downtown, small adobe brick houses seem to hang from the cliffs of these extremely dry and eroded mountains and hills. This makes transportation as well as access to clean water and health services difficult for these families.
But even amid these hardships, it’s amazing to see how children and mothers are so eager to participate in our after-school programs run by local partners Avance Comunitario and Niñas San Gabriel. Even though children attend school in the morning and have to climb up and down hills to get anywhere, they still want to come to the center and do some more work.
At the ChildFund-supported centers, children receive help with their homework and reinforcement in language, writing and math skills. They also have the opportunity to participate in music, art and crafts. These well-structured programs help kids do better in school. I was pleased to see how creative teachers are at designing activities to accommodate children of different ages in the same class.
“We learn, we play, and we are not alone,” says Ivan, an 11-year-old boy, describing what he does at the center every week.
“I like to come here because the teacher explains to me, and now it’s easier for me to do my homework,” says little Dayana, 9, who wants to be a pianist when she grows up.
At this center, we also offer early childhood stimulation sessions for young children and their mothers. “For us mothers, ChildFund is a big help,” says Guillermina, a mother of three. “Our kids are no longer afraid to talk. They are learning about their rights, and [it helps] them develop better. I, too, learn how to be a better parent.”
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