Bolivia 4Ward is an organization that works to create better educational opportunities for Bolivian children struggling to succeed within an inadequate education system. Started in 2013, we utilize online resources like Khan Academy to help children in Cochabamba Bolivia, with a focus on math and science. Bolivian curriculum does not address the personal needs of students, leaving children who don’t understand concepts far behind and discouraged. Since 2015, Bolivia 4Ward has been collaborating with Santa Clara University, bringing a handful of student interns every year to work with the kids. This year, in addition to the math curriculum, we’ve added a science component. This consists of activities and experiments designed to introduce children to scientific concepts, and more importantly, to show that learning, investigating, and trying new things can be fun.
While working side by side with the children these past two weeks, we’ve noticed that they simply lack the confidence to try new things and make mistakes – a crucial part of the learning process. What we try to show the kids during their time at the program is that it is important to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them. The science activities have focused on encouraging the kids to think creatively to solve problems and work together in teams to find new solutions.
One of the groups that we’ve worked with is from an orphanage called Hogar Evangelina Booth. Founded in 1976 by Swedish missionaries, it is now run by the Salvation Army and houses roughly 40 girls. The home receives children from Child Protection Services here in Cochabamba, and the girls at the home have experienced abuse, neglect, or abandonment. After working with and visiting various orphanages in the area, we’ve seen firsthand that Evangelina Booth is one of the most underfunded homes in the city.
The home currently does not have a washing machine or a working refrigerator. Both the washing machine and the refrigerator were purchased in 2001. The refrigerator barely works at all. It can’t even keep produce from spoiling and is constantly in need of repair. When we went to the home, we learned that the washing machine stopped working in 2010, and is now being used for storage. The girls currently have to wash their clothes by hand at a spigot outside.
After visiting their home, we saw a simple way to dramatically improve the girls’ quality of life and to help the organization. The purchase of a new washing machine would greatly reduce the amount of time the girls have to spend doing laundry each week. A new fridge would allow them to eat healthier and also means that the home would save money not having to buy food so frequently. Instead, they can buy healthier food in bulk without it spoiling.
We went to la Cancha, the local market in Cochabamba, to investigate prices. We found that a new 60-liter washing machine would cost between $750-$1000 US dollars and a new high capacity refrigerator would cost between $900-$2000 US dollars. Both of these would be large enough to serve the needs of the 40 girls living in the home. These figures include delivery and installation fees as well. Jon will be staying here in Cochabamba until the end of August, so if we reach our goal he’ll be able to personally supervise the purchase and delivery of the appliances, ensuring that they get to the home and work properly. With your help we hope to improve the lives of these girls that we’ve worked with during our time here. We’re excited that we’ve been able to find such a simple way to make a significant difference in their lives.
To see the girls in action, check out this video of their time at the Bolivia 4Ward program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-yjPdMhxEM
- jennifer merritt
- Kristin Anderson
- Pam McNamara
- John Hosbein
Santa Clara, CA