Education has always been one of Children Incorporated’s core values; and that is why, since our very beginning, we have supported our sponsored and unsponsored children through our Higher Education Fund.
Our Higher Education Fund helps young people pursue their dreams of completing certificate programs or obtaining a degree from a university or college by providing them with financial support. The program is highly effective, thanks to our amazing volunteer coordinators, who know each and every one of our sponsored and unsponsored children personally – and as such, also know their individual needs and goals.
Our higher education program
Thanks to our Higher Education Fund, Maria was able to attend college.
The volunteer coordinators in both our International and U.S. Divisions nominate children who are enrolled in our program and are in their last year of secondary education.
Once accepted into our Higher Education Program, these young people may pursue any course of study they wish at an accredited institution. Many of our Higher Education Fund beneficiaries have later returned to their communities in positions as teachers, nurses, social workers, accountants, architects, counselors, and speech therapists.
Contributions to our Higher Education Fund essentially help make our sponsored and unsponsored youngsters’ dreams come true. We recently heard from a former sponsored child who received assistance from our Higher Education Fund – and just that has happened for her. Her name is Maria* and she is from Bolivia; she started on her path to education at our affiliated project Pedro Poveda School in La Paz.
The small landlocked nation of Bolivia comprises the rugged Andes Mountains and vast high-altitude plateaus to the west – including a portion of Lake Titicaca, the largest high-altitude lake in the world – and lush lowland plains of the Amazon Jungle to the east. Despite its wealth of natural beauty and resources, however, Bolivia bears the scars of centuries of conflict, beginning with the Spanish conquistadors, and followed by almost 200 years of wars and internal military coups. Political and economic instability have brought about considerable poverty, resulting in widespread malnutrition, crime, and disease.
Since Children Incorporated partners with Pedro Poveda School, we were able to match Maria with a sponsor, so that she could attend the school.
At 12,000 feet above sea level lies La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, and Maria’s hometown. Some of the city’s most impoverished have no sanitation or potable water, and disease and malnutrition are rampant there.
Thankfully, children living in poverty have our affiliated project the Pedro Poveda School to offer them a safe and comfortable place to learn, which is just what Maria needed while growing up in poverty.
Matching Maria with a sponsor
Maria was raised without a father, and her mother was very poor and could not afford to send her to school without support. Since Children Incorporated partners with Pedro Poveda School, we were able to match Maria with a sponsor, so that she could attend the school; she received school supplies, books, school uniforms, and other basic needs throughout the year. Not only did her sponsor send contributions, but she also wrote letters to Maria, which motivated her.
While she was in her last year of high school, our volunteer coordinator at Pedro Poveda School recommended Maria for our Higher Education Program, because Maria was a very good student – and she was accepted into the program. After her high school graduation, Maria went on to attend a college in Bolivia, thanks to our Higher Education Fund. She graduated from there with a degree in business administration, and soon after, began working in a hospital for women. Maria is very grateful for the generosity of our donors, as well as for that of her sponsor, who helped her to get where she is today, and to have a much brighter future than she would have had without an education.
*Name changed for child’s protection.
How do I donate to the Higher Education Fund?
You can contribute to our Higher Education Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at email@example.com; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Higher Education Fund.
We work in many South American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and Colombia. Through sponsorship, we help provide children with food, clothing, school supplies, and hygiene items. We also fund feeding programs and support unsponsored children through our Shared Hope Fund. In addition, we fund tutoring programs and the construction of schools, as well as skill training programs.
Information about the countries where we work
South America is full of beauty, but it is plagued by political, social, and economic issues that are depriving children of the basic needs they deserve, and keeping them from obtaining a good education. We want to highlight information about each of the South American countries in which we work, to show you not only what the countries have to offer with regard to culture, landscape, and history, but also what they lack in infrastructure. We affiliate with projects in each of these nations to support their children in need.
The second-largest country in Latin America, Argentina is truly a nation of contrasts. In geography alone, its borders envelop a full spectrum of topography: rugged, towering mountains; tropical lowlands; arid steppes and plateaus; and frigid tundra. The country’s sprawling capital, Buenos Aires, is nestled along the estuary where the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic Ocean, and it is the second-largest metropolis in South America. Known for its wealth of culture, arts – including the famous dance, the tango – and beautiful European-style architecture, Buenos Aires draws thousands of tourists each year. However, there is a hidden side of the city that few tourists experience; extremely high inflation, rising unemployment, and an increasing poverty rate afflict the nation as a whole.
The small, landlocked country of Bolivia comprises the rugged Andes Mountains and vast, high-altitude plateaus to the west, including a portion of Lake Titicaca – the largest high-altitude lake in the world – as well as the lush lowland plains of the Amazon Rainforest to the east. Despite its wealth of natural beauty and resources, Bolivia bears the scars of centuries of conflict, beginning with the Spanish conquistadors and followed by almost 200 years of wars and internal military coups. Political and economic instability have brought about considerable poverty there, resulting in widespread malnutrition, crime, and disease.
Through sponsorship, we help provide children with food, clothing, school supplies, and hygiene items. We also fund feeding programs and support unsponsored children through our Shared Hope Fund.
Located along South America’s western coast, Peru comprises arid Pacific coastlands, spectacular mountain ranges, and the vast Amazon Rainforest. This land has been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years, including those of the illustrious Inca Empire – the culture that constructed Peru’s most iconic landmark: Machu Picchu. Peru’s rich culture, breathtaking beauty, and wealth of natural resources, however, belie the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Numerous rural areas are still recovering from the Sendero Luminoso terrorist attacks of the 1980s, which claimed countless lives, and caused thousands of families who had relied upon agriculture for generations to seek shelter in large cities – only to encounter an even deeper level of destitution. While Peru as a whole suffers from high unemployment, hyperinflation, disease, malnutrition, and crime, these maladies are most pronounced in its overcrowded urban areas – and perhaps even most of all in Lima, the nation’s capital.
Uruguay is wedged between the uplands of southern Brazil and Argentina’s flat pampas. Its miles of gently rolling pasture land fuel the nation’s livestock-based economy, but they also belie a turbulent history. This second-smallest South American nation has wobbled between alternating periods of stability and volatility, riddled with coups, invasions, dictatorships, and civil wars. Despite a progressive political record, Uruguay still grapples with high unemployment, rising inflation, and rampant crime.
Nestled in the heart of South America, Paraguay comprises an area roughly the size of California, characterized by semiarid grasslands, forested highlands, marshlands, and rivers. Paraguay boasts a well-preserved indigenous identity and heritage, but a wide range of ethnicities call this small, landlocked nation home – including immigrants from Australia, Germany, Russia, Italy, France, and Spain. Paraguay’s rich cultural diversity and wealth of natural resources, however, belie the abject poverty in which the majority of its residents live. Many areas of the country remain underdeveloped, with their inhabitants relying on subsistence farming for their livelihood. Today, one of South America’s poorest nations, Paraguay is plagued by a history of bloody wars with neighboring countries, as well as by internal political instability, corruption, deficient infrastructure, and poverty.
Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world – both geographically and in terms of population. It is truly massive, sharing borders with every other country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. The Amazon Rainforest, recognized for having the greatest biological diversity on the planet, sprawls across the country’s northern half, with rugged mountains to the south. Despite its wealth of natural resources and beauty, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and a lack of social development.
Situated in the northwestern corner of South America, Colombia is rich in natural beauty, comprising the rugged Andes Mountains, lowland plains, the sprawling Amazon Rainforest, and coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Archeological evidence suggests that humans have called this land home for thousands of years. Its modern history begins at the end of the fifteenth century, when Christopher Columbus and the first Spanish explorers discovered the region, subsequently establishing the area’s first successful Spanish settlement in 1508. Spanish colonization continued for the next 400 years. Finally, in the mid-nineteenth century, Colombia gained its independence and established itself as South America’s first constitutional government. However, political instability in the mid- to late-twentieth century led to the uprising of guerilla groups, which have wreaked havoc throughout the nation and have committed some of the most egregious social injustices.Tragically, their targets are most often children. Kidnappings, human trafficking, recruitment as soldiers into paramilitary groups, and forcible participation in drug-trafficking rings are all too common realities for vulnerable and disadvantaged children there.
Most Frequently-asked Questions About Sponsoring a Child in South America
Here at Children Incorporated, we know that sponsoring a child in need is extraordinarily rewarding, so we want to provide you with a guide to walk you through the process.
To make your decision as easy as possible, here are the answers to sixteen of the most commonly asked questions we receive about sponsoring a child in South America.
The sponsorship relationship enables an individual sponsor to help support a child in need by means of monthly contributions. Monthly sponsorship donations go towards providing basic necessities such as school supplies and tuition fees, food, clothing, and access to healthcare, among other services, so that a child living in poverty has the opportunity to overcome the barriers that keep them from attending school, getting an education, and succeeding in life.
What is the role of a sponsor?
A sponsor’s friendship and encouragement are priceless to an impoverished child. Indeed, many children value the relationships they establish with their sponsors as much as they value the financial support they receive from them. There is an opportunity to build a relationship between sponsor and child that can be quite profound.
How long can I sponsor a child in South America?
Typically, sponsorship lasts until a child turns eighteen years old, graduates from high school, or moves out of our service area. Due to the transient state of many families and the difficult circumstances of the regions where they reside, we cannot predict or guarantee how long a child will remain in our sponsorship program, though every effort is made to provide services to children for as long as possible.
When a child leaves the sponsorship program, another child is selected for you to sponsor that is equally in need, in the hope that you will accept the new sponsorship.
Who implements or administers the child sponsorship program?
Our program is implemented by on-site volunteer coordinators who are typically administrators at the projects with which we affiliate. Our coordinators have direct access to the children they serve at their schools, homes, orphanages, or community centers – and sometimes even on a daily basis. As a result, they are familiar with the immediate needs and family circumstances of each individual child in their care.
Monthly sponsorship donations go towards providing basic necessities such as school supplies and tuition fees, food, clothing, and access to healthcare, among other services, so that a child living in poverty has the opportunity to overcome the barriers that keep him or her from attending school, getting an education, and succeeding in life.
Who most directly benefits from my financial support?
The beneficiary of your support is your individual sponsored child. The families of children in our sponsorship program receive additional or indirect benefits from their child’s sponsorship, but our focus is the one child. Sponsorship is intended to address the unique and individual needs of each child so that his or her specific needs are met.
The child-focused approach to fighting poverty is distinctly different from the broader community development approach. By changing the life of one child, you are giving him or her the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, which can eventually lead to the transformation of an entire community – and even a nation.
Will I receive updated information about my sponsored child in South America?
Yes. You will receive updated information and updated photos, though the frequency may vary depending upon the child’s location. The typical progress report includes information about the child’s grade level in school, hobbies, and interests.
May I send packages to my sponsored child in South America?
Due to high customs duties and the likelihood of loss, it is not recommended that you send packages to projects outside of the United States, as their receipt cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to send an additional gift, it is recommended that you send a monetary gift to our headquarters in North Chesterfield, Virginia.
May I write to the child I sponsor?
Yes! Corresponding with your sponsored child can be a delightful experience. Your sponsored child is encouraged to write to you as well.
What should I write about?
The children enjoy learning about the lives of their sponsors. Writing about your own family (children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, etc.) is always a good place to start. The children also like to learn about your part of the world, what you do for a living, your hobbies and interests, and about any pets you may have.
Is it possible to visit my sponsored child in South America?
It is possible to visit sponsored children; however, it is not guaranteed that all of the projects with which we affiliate are open to sponsor visits. Circumstances vary from area to area.
Are there reviews of child sponsorship organizations?
Yes. Before you choose an organization with which to sponsor a child, we highly recommend that you visit these websites to gain a better understanding of charity backgrounds and performances: Charity Navigator, GuideStar, Give.org and Charity Watch.
What are the best child sponsorship organizations for sponsoring a child in South America?
Well, we are obviously a little biased about this question; but as we mentioned above, we highly recommend that you visit the various websites that provide assessments and ratings of nonprofit organizations before you make any donations.
What are the pros and cons of sponsoring a child?
The pros: you get to make a fundamental difference in the life of a child in need, and the effects of your sponsorship can last a lifetime. There are no real cons to sponsoring a child, but as you follow the progress of your sponsored child, you may at times feel that you wish could do more.
How much does child sponsorship cost?
Our sponsorship rate is $30 per month, and may be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Will my sponsorship help a child go to school?
Yes – absolutely! We pride ourselves on our focus on providing educational resources for children.
Are there non-religious sponsorship organizations?
Yes, there are many great charitable organizations, both religious and non-religious, that provide assistance to children in South America. Children Incorporated is a non-religious charitable organization.
If you are interested in sponsoring a child in South America or elsewhere, please click here to get started.
We meet a wide array of needs for children and their families through our Hope In Action Fund, which provides support outside of sponsorship. From providing aid in the wake of emergencies to supporting weekend and summer feeding programs, individual, one-time donations to this special fund really go a long way. They support income-generating projects, and they go towards the construction of homes and schools – and even medical clinics at our affiliated projects. As a way to show our appreciation for your support, we want to share just some of the many amazing accomplishments we were able to make in 2017, thanks to your contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.
Helping kids in the united states
Last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided continued assistance for a combined College/Career Awareness and Parent Resource Program at our affiliated project Carr Creek Elementary School in Kentucky. The fund also aided our volunteer coordinator at Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary School in Washington, D.C. in the development of a mentoring program. Thanks to your contributions, we were able to provide additional resources in New Orleans, Louisiana, which included aid for an after-school program, uniforms for children whose families could not afford them, and 500 books distributed at three literacy events during the year to increase a love of reading and to help build the home libraries of 500 children.
Kids in Kentucky have benefited greatly from our Hope In Action Fund.
Our Hope In Action Fund also provided backpacks and school supplies for “Readifests” at several of our Kentucky schools to support kids at the start of the school year. Funds enabled the entire student body of Bevins Elementary School in Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to benefit from an educational drug awareness and personal resiliency program. Additionally, our Hope In Action Fund provided opportunities for our sponsored and unsponsored children at Sparta Elementary School in North Carolina to attend cultural and educational performances outside of their community – experiences that they otherwise would not have had.
Donations also offered disaster relief for children impacted by serious flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Thanks to you, we were able to provide canned hams, canned vegetables, and boxed food for Thanksgiving for children at our newest project in Richmond, Virginia, E.S.H. Greene Elementary School. We were also able to pay for a young girl in Kentucky to have a much-needed eye exam, and to replace her broken glasses, improving her vision so that she’d have less difficulty keeping up in class.
Thanks to you, we were able to establish a weekend feeding program at Shonto Preparatory School in Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, as well as provide assistance for a partial denture for a high school student in Kentucky who suffered an accident that caused him to lose his four front teeth. We were also able to address food insecurity by supporting weekend feeding programs and monthly markets of fresh fruits and vegetables at our four affiliated projects in Washington, D.C. We assisted three children enrolled in our program at Piney Creek Elementary School in North Carolina to attend and participate in the Junior Beta Club State Convention in Greensboro.
We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund.
Our Hope In Action Fund also provided a complete professional outfit for a high-achieving student at Greyhills Academy High School in Arizona so that she could advance and compete in the Navajo Nation Science Fair in Window Rock. Donations gave us the ability to help a little boy at Johns Creek Elementary School in Kentucky to be transported to and from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, by providing funds for gas and food, so that he could undergo additional procedures following his open-heart surgery.
Donations enabled 25 children at Johnson County Middle School in Paintsville, Kentucky, including children enrolled in our program, to attend and learn at the Summer Scrubs Camp at the Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. Additionally, we were able to purchase playground equipment for the kids at G.H. Reid Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia.
Supporting kids internationally
Outside of the United States, last year, our Hope In Action Fund provided over a thousand pairs of new shoes to children in need in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. We also made a contribution to the Materi Girls’ School in Meru, Kenya for the purchase of food for the families of the children who attend, who were suffering due to a terrible drought. We provided support to Guarderia El Angel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia to pay a few teachers’ salaries when the center lost funding from its local municipality. We also completed eight housing units near our affiliated project Villa Emilia in Bolivia to help the mothers of children enrolled in our program, who were formerly living on the streets.
We couldn’t help with such simple but powerful things without our sponsors’ and donors’ contributions to our Hope In Action Fund. Every contribution impacts a specific child or family – and oftentimes, it is life-changing for them. We are incredibly grateful that we have the ability to provide for children and their families beyond sponsorship, especially in circumstances that are dire, and in which they have nowhere else to turn for help. Thanks to you, thousands of children and their families are getting the support they need every year.
HOW DO I CONTRIBUTE TO THE HOPE IN ACTION FUND?
You can contribute to our Hope In Action Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Hope In Action Fund.
As the end of the year approaches, I can say that the Children Incorporated staff as a whole is amazed by what we have accomplished thus far in 2017, thanks to our incredible sponsors and donors. When our President and CEO, Ron Carter, sent out a letter in December of 2016 asking our supporters to help us reach our goal of providing 1,000 pairs of new shoes to sponsored and unsponsored children at our projects in the coming year, we never dreamed the response would be so tremendous.
Just three months after launching our Shoe Fund campaign, our supporters had already donated more than $30,000 to ensure that children in our program in Latin America, Africa, and Asia would receive new shoes. We can’t thank you enough for what you have done for these special young girls and boys.
The importance of shoes
There are a lot of basic needs that children go without on a daily basis – something we understand all too well. Providing basic necessities, like clothing, food, hygiene items, and educational support, to kids is the foundation of our sponsorship program, and we believe that each and every one of these aspects is incredibly important in helping children have a greater chance to succeed in life. So why did Mr. Carter want to focus in particular on getting shoes to kids in need?
“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes.”
“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes,” says Mr. Carter. “In some cases, children attend school only every other day because they have to share a single pair of shoes with a sibling. We have always made a point of providing good, solid shoes to these children, knowing that shoes can be very expensive. As such, the Children Incorporated Shoe Fund campaign has been one of our most meaningful endeavors.”
Because of you, we have provided children at our affiliated projects the Pedro Poveda School, Guarderia El Angel, the Lourdes School, the Santa Clotilde Orphanage, Villa Emilia, the Montero Home, and the Cristo Rey Mission in Bolivia with shoes this year. Thanks to you, children at Hogar Santa Julia and Hogar Santa Maria in Mexico have brand new shoes to wear to school. If it weren’t for you, children at the Dandora Community Center in Kenya, the Rainbow ‘Erdata’ Center in Ethiopia, Chrishanti Lama Sevana in Sri Lanka, La Milagrosa in Costa Rica, and Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala wouldn’t have received new footwear, either.
To date, we have provided 1,235 pairs of shoes to kids in need, and we will continue distributing shoes in the upcoming months.
Thank you for all that you do to help children – we couldn’t do it without you.
It has been fun to reminisce about my trip to Bolivia last year now that Luis has returned from his visit there just a few weeks ago. When I caught up with him to hear updates about our projects, there was one in particular I couldn’t wait to ask about. While we were in Bolivia together last year for the inauguration of the Montero School, Luis had just been to Santa Cruz for yet another inauguration – the completion of homes built for women and their Children Incorporated-sponsored children, who until now had been living at Villa Emilia.
A Shining Light in the Dark
Sister Pilar pictured outside of a home constructed by Villa Emilia
When Luis and I visited Villa Emilia last spring, we were greeted by smiling children and mothers who lined the driveway leading to the community center, where the kids sang songs and read poems to welcome us.
Villa Emilia is a special place; our volunteer coordinator, Sister Pilar, and the other Sisters that run the home pull women off the streets of Santa Cruz. They give them a safe place to stay, and offer them a job in the garment factory on the property, where they make school uniforms that are sold to generate money to run the home. It is really an amazing place – well-kept grounds and small dorm-style living facilities offer the families refuge from tough street life; and the children are able to attend local schools and receive support from Children Incorporated sponsors. As a result of living in a stable environment, the children at Villa Emilia are some of the best in their classes, we’re told!
Villa Emilia isn’t set up for women to stay there permanently; once they are able to save money, the Sisters help them find housing close by, so that they can continue to work at the factory, and their children can stay in the same schools. But even more than just helping the women find housing outside of the compound, the Sisters also help the women purchase their own property, on which they can eventually build a home – offering them a real, sustainable living situation.
Sister Pilar’s Mission
The Sisters also help the women purchase their own property, on which they can eventually build a home – offering them a real, sustainable living situation.
About thirty minutes away from Villa Emilia, Sister Pilar took us to a neighborhood where she pointed out a few modest homes.
They were sturdy brick structures, and she explained that each of the homes had separate bedrooms, which was something we hadn’t seen often in smaller houses in Bolivia. Across the street from the completed houses were other homes that were still under construction.
According to Sister Pilar, the Sisters purchased the land from the government, and then the women paid the five-year mortgages on the properties, after which point they owned them outright.
Along the way, they also saved money to build homes on their properties. The timelines for the start construction varied for each family, depending on how much they could save each month. If Villa Emilia received any funding from an outside source, the Sisters would pitch in to start of construction so the women could move into permanent housing more quickly.
Luis outside of a newly built house, ready to cut the ribbon
Another ten-minute drive away, we arrived at a field where grass grew as tall as our knees, and power lines were strung above our heads. Peaking up above the grass were pipes, a sign that water lines had already been laid in the ground. Sister Pilar told us we were standing on eight plots of land, already purchased by Villa Emilia.
Eight women had been selected to pay the mortgages on the land, and they were already more than two years into their payments — but far from being able to afford to build their homes. The cost of each house would be roughly $7,000, which would take the women a long time to earn. Once they had the money, though it would take only about six months to construct the houses.
We left that day, having been touched by Sister Pilar’s mission to give these families better lives in permanent homes, and a chance to raise their children off the streets.
If the women were left to make the money to afford the homes on their own, it might be ten years or more before they moved in. By then, most of the sponsored children will have grown up and moved on, never having a chance to live in homes that their hardworking mothers owned.
Luis talked to Sister Pilar about sending over plans for the construction, and told her that he would like for the project to get underway as soon as possible. Knowing he would be returning to Bolivia in almost exactly a year, Luis encouraged Sister Pilar to get the project going quickly so that he could share the success with Children Incorporated supporters upon his return.
A Celebration of Home
Three weeks ago, Luis returned to Villa Emilia, and was once again greeted by a loving group of boys and girls and their mothers, as well as Sister Pilar. When he entered the community center, he saw a large bulletin board on a wall that was covered in paper hearts. Each heart had the name of an individual Children Incorporated sponsor who was helping the children at Villa Emilia. After meeting with the children, it was time to go see the new houses.
The always-ambitious Sister Pilar told Luis she would love to build more houses. There were enough plots in this new neighborhood to build fifteen more houses if they could find the funding to do so.
When Luis arrived, he no longer saw an empty field; he saw eight concrete houses making a new small neighborhood where no buildings had stood before – and the families were already there waiting for him.
The first person Luis greeted was a grandmother who has two daughters, both of whom have children in our program. They stood in front of their new home, excited that the day they had waited for a long time was finally here. Luis cut the ribbon that had been gently tied across the front door, and Sister Pilar handed the grandmother the keys to her new home. She was overwhelmed with happiness, and tears streamed down her face.
Luis spent the afternoon cutting one ribbon after another, welcoming families into their new homes. He toured the beautiful new homes, which had two separate bedrooms, a large living area, a kitchen, and a bathroom each. They had electricity, running water, sewage systems, and large windows to allow for air and light to come in.
As they left that day, the always-ambitious Sister Pilar told Luis she would love to build more houses. There were enough plots in this new neighborhood to build fifteen more houses if they could find the funding to do so; and she would even love to see a community center in the area so that the neighborhood could really flourish. She was excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the lives of these women and their children, and she was feeling so uplifted by the day that all she could talk about was doing more.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BOLIVIA?
You can sponsor a child in Bolivia one of two ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Bolivia that is available for sponsorship.
Although Luis has been traveling to visit sites for many years now, it was my first trip with Children Incorporated, and it marked the launch of our On the Road series. Looking back, it was incredible to have had the chance to visit our affiliate projects in Bolivia, and to meet with our volunteer coordinators, such as Sister Josefina at the Pedro Poveda School; and to spend time hearing stories from our sponsored children, like Carla, who grew up in our program and is now in college. Even more importantly, I feel privileged to have had the chance to be a part of something very special during that particular trip – the inauguration of the completion of the Montero School classrooms. The construction of the classrooms was hugely important not only to the students at the school, but it was also important to the whole community – and I didn’t realize what it meant to people until I was there to see it.
An Educated Proposal
Students in their classroom at the Montero School
In late 2015, Luis spoke with Sister Geraldina, our volunteer coordinator at the Montero School in Okinawa, a rural community a few hours outside of Santa Cruz. Geraldina mentioned that she wanted to add additional classrooms to the school so she could enroll more students. The town has a lot of poor residents, and educating the kids is really the only way to help them get out of poverty, as it is in so many places in the world. Sister Geraldina’s proposal wasn’t just an idea that she casually mentioned to Luis; in fact, the foundation had already been started. But she didn’t have any funding to complete the classrooms, so what was there was nothing more than a flat outline of a building on the school property.
Luis liked the idea of expanding the Montero School in order to educate more students; and thanks to our incredible supporters, only a few months later, construction was underway. The proposal was to add seven additional classrooms to the Montero School, which would allow 200 or more students to attend classes every day. By April of 2016, when Luis and I visited the school to celebrate the completion of the classrooms, everything except the two bathrooms was complete. By the time we arrived, desks for the students were in place, and the building was ready for students to start learning there the very next day.
Impacting an Entire Community
The construction of the classrooms was hugely important not only to the students at the school, but it was also important to the whole community.
For me, the most memorable part of being at the inauguration of the new classrooms at the Montero School was getting the chance to celebrate with the community. Nearly 600 people came for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and I loved how festive all of it was; starting early on in the day, children and their mothers hung crepe paper and blew up balloons to decorate the new classrooms before the afternoon ceremony.
I couldn’t believe how many local people showed up to the event, and it seemed that everyone was participating in some way – decorating, dancing, singing, or bringing food to share.
For Luis, before leaving for Bolivia once again, the memory of the inauguration called him to reflect on how incredible it is to see the projects that Children Incorporated supports work to provide for the educational needs of children beyond sponsorship. What struck him was more than just knowing the families were grateful for the new classrooms — it was also knowing that the school would help many generations to come.
I agree with Luis: sponsorship is the core of Children Incorporated‘s work, but when we have opportunities to do more — like build schools, homes, or dormitories — we can reach more people and change the lives of entire families for the better.
Luis and I enjoyed the inauguration immensely and were even able to stay in Okinawa an additional day to see the children start classes the next day.
Back in Bolivia
Just a few weeks ago, Luis returned to Bolivia to visit twelve of our projects, this time traveling to La Paz, as well as Sucre and Santa Cruz — including the Montero School.
The grounds of the school outside the new classrooms are now landscaped, thanks to the help of the students.
Upon arriving in Okinawa, Luis was greeted by Sister Geraldina, who had the same enthusiasm and energy as she did the year before when it came to showing Luis the new classrooms.
The first thing Luis noticed that was different was the new concrete walkways leading to the classrooms; only gravel had been there the year before. Surrounding the walkways were plants and flowers, both in pots and buried in the ground, lush and green, and well cared for. Grass had grown all around where once only dirt and remnants of the construction site had been. Sister Geraldina explained that the students were completely responsible for beautifying the area around the new classrooms; and they also maintain the grounds, making sure the foliage gets watered and trimmed as needed.
She then showed Luis the completed bathrooms, which were covered in white tile and were in perfect condition, clean and functioning well. She then took him to visit the students in the classrooms. Since last year, air conditioning units had been installed, a gift from students’ families — something they did to show that they care a great deal about having the new classrooms at the school. Sister Geraldina explained that nearly 400 children are taking classes now during two separate shifts during the day, and there are even adult reading classes being held at night.
Every single one of them have benefited from the new classrooms.
Luis was more than impressed by what he saw a year later at the Montero School. Not only had the classrooms and the grounds been kept up and even improved in ways, but the community continued to invest in the new building, and it didn’t seem like they wasted a second of the day in using the classrooms for educating children and adults alike. Knowing he saw the community using the building to its full potential, it makes all the sense in the world to me now why so many people came to the inauguration. Every single one of them has benefited from the new classrooms.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN Bolivia?
You can sponsor a child in Bolivia one of two ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Bolivia that is available for sponsorship.