Updates are now avalible on our Facebook page or our VB Supporters WhatsApp Group. Check out the Facebook page right here:
If you would like to join the WhatsApp VB Supporters group, just send Jonathan an email at: [email protected].
Update: October 2, 2021
Food Distribution in Realenga
Roberto is at it again! This time brining food and encouragement to 25 people in the community of Realenga near Machacamarca. Roberto brought food essentials and had a special meal for members of the community. We are proud to partner with Roberto and SERVITIHUM (Servicio Tecnico Integral Humanitario) to make these events possible.
Update: April 6, 2021
Roberto's Work in Oruro
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." There are many ways to physically show God's love to people.
One particularly practical option is giving food and medical attention in times of need. We are so pleased to partner with Roberto and SERVITIHUM (a local charity in Bolivia) who have received three grants from Viva Bolivia for food and PPE distribution in 2021.
Here are just a few of the photos Roberto has sent from these three events. Leaders like him are making a real difference in their communities, in this case, Oruro, Bolivia. And, they are making God's love real to people who need the hope both physical and spiritual food can provide.
Keep up the great work Roberto!
Update: January 13, 2021
Leaders Share Hope and Gifts at Christmas Time
Today we are thankful for Ronald Pacara and his church and the leaders there. This past Christmas they used a VB grant to bless the local community in the South of Cochabamba. The event was a huge success with more than 150 children and parents receiving a special treat and gifts.
They also got to hear the Christmas story and the hope that Christmas brings. Enjoy these photos with me and thank you for giving to help make these events possible! Leaders like Ronald and the other members of his church don't grow on trees and they need our support as they make a difference in their communities.
If you would like to help, just leave a comment and I will point you in the right direction. If you would like to do something similar in your community, consider applying for a grant on the Viva Bolivia Web page.
Update: December 17, 2020
Christmas Brings Hope!
Today we are celebrating with Dr. Nunes! Again this year (even though 8-months pregnant) she wanted to bless her local community (near her clinic) with Christmas joy.
This time she delivered gifts from the back of a truck so she could bring the toys and treats directly to the families and help reduce the risk of gathering in a large group. We are so pleased to encourage leaders like Fabiane and her team who are making a real difference! In her report for the activity that took place on December 12, 2020, she was asked about what motivates her as a leader to do these kind of activities.
She responded with these verses from Galatians 6. "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor."
Such a good reminder for us all during these days. Congratulations Fabiane on a job well done!
Update: June 13, 2020
Covid-19 Response - Food Distributions Continue
Viva Bolivia continues to focus grants on Covid-19 responses. This has mostly been in the form of food distributions to the most vulnerable populations. Local leaders have been making application for small grants and adding to these funds themselves and together with their churches have been reaching out. Today I received another update of one such distribution. So proud of your good work Richard! It is an honor to partner with you.
Since February, Viva Bolivia has given out 10 such grants. The amounts vary, but in each case, people are being fed and brought the hope that comes from someone showing you love in your time of need. Please consider a special gift to Viva Bolivia to help us make even more grants possible.
Update: May 21, 2020
Covid-19 Response - Church Leaders Reach Out
During the last few months VB grants have been largely focused on Covid-19 aid to Bolivia. We have given grants to support a number of local leaders as they reach out to their communities with aid.
A few examples include: Pastor Martins who preaches inside a men's prision in Trinidad and Doctor Nunes who has a clinic just outside of Cochabamba and who is helping with medical supplies and PPE in her neighborhood.
In additon, we were also so pleased to be able to partner with the Nueva Jerusalen church in Potosi to help them provide food to some of the most vunerable populations surrounding their church. In fact, they did such a great job we just authorized a second grant. Keep up the good work Alfredo and Pastor Alcaraz! The photos below are from their most recent report.
Thank you for your support and gifts to Viva Bolivia. Together we are making a real difference in supporting these wonderful community leaders!
Update: December 31, 2019
December Grants 2019
December is our biggest grant giving month of the year. We save up all year long to be sure we have enough to give to these inspired leaders who apply for grants to help their communities at this time of the year. In 2019 Viva Bolivia gave out 19 targeted, leadership-development grants in December alone. To put this in perspective, we normally give out 2-4 grants a month. The reports are starting to roll in and below are just a few of the photos from these special events.
In every case, our focus is on the local leader who might be a pastor or doctor or teacher or student. The leaders apply for grants that help them become better leaders in their community and often this means reaching out directly to the communities where they serve. We are so proud to come along side these inspiring leaders and help them as they grow in their professions and reach out to help those in need all around Bolivia!
You can follow along on Facebook by following this link or just check back here from time to time. Enjoy! And, consider joining our support team who make these grants possible. Together we are making a real difference in Bolivia!
Update: June 4, 2019
CIMA Training Camp 2019 -- "Just One"
This January VB was pleased to sponsor Jes�s David as he attended the annual leadership development conference put on by Movida. In the first photo below Jes�s is the second from the left in the front row with the striped sweater.
CIMA has been holding training conferences in Bolivia since 2008. The word �Movida� is a combination of two Spanish words "mover and vidas", translated it means �Moving Lives�. This year's theme was "Solo Uno".
Below are a few photos from this powerful event and you can check out the hyperlinks to learn more about these programs helping to develop Christian leaders in Bolivia and beyond.
Update: March 5, 2019
2018 Year-End Report
This past year donations were down just slightly, but nevertheless thanks to your generous gifts we were still able to make $7190.70 in targeted, leadership-development grants in Bolivia! (see chart).
During 2018 we gave out 52 grants to 36 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size went up slightly to $137.34 per grant (note that some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to three broad categories during 2018. You can read about them in more detail on our Apply for a Grant page.
We gave to develop and encourage leadership in International Development Programs (8%), Job Preparation and Training (6%) and International Relief Programs (86%). It should also be noted that we helped to provide work for the entire VBPS team by hiring them to distribute our grants in-person from their office in Cochabamba (this cost is not included in the grant giving totals and is around $2400 per year). Their on-the-ground, local and in-person distribution is key to our success in building local leaders.
Thanks to all who gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible. Let's do even more in 2019! Join us in making a difference by setting up monthly giving today - it's super easy, just click the link below.
Leaders doing good in Bolivia. So much fun!
The first months of the year are always fun for me, because that is when I receive the December reports from our VB supported leaders. Each year Christmas time is one of our busiest grant making times of the year. And, this year was our biggest year yet! We were so pleased to approve18 grants for various leaders and projects during the month of December 2018.
Most were leaders reaching out into their communities. Many were church leaders. Enjoy some of our favorite photos below. Your gifts help empower these leaders to make a positive difference in their communities!
Update: December 6, 2018
Cheering on the Team in Bolivia
This past month I (Jonathan) was able to spend a couple of weeks in Bolivia cheering on our grant recipients and encouraging the team at VBPS SRL. Below are a few of my favorite photos from this time together with friends and those Viva Bolivia supports. Once again I was reminded about the primacy of relationships in building lasting positive change. We are so thankful for:
1. Friends, family and supporters in the USA and Norway
2. The VB Board who volunteer their time and expertise
3. Fellow missionaries who encourage us and work for Bolivia
4. All our Bolivian friends and the leaders we support
Together we truly are fulfilling our mission of, "Leadership for Today and Hope for Tomorrow!"
This year again, Karin and I were pleased to cover the cost of the flight to and from Bolivia, keeping more VB funds for grants. These in-person trips are of critical importance to keeping relationships fresh and working with issues that are difficult to address when you are not there in person.
Update: November 1, 2018
Jehov� es mi pastor; nada me faltar�
Yesterday I had the great privilege of visiting Do�a Zamora (Fatima), her daughter and grandson. They all live together about an hour south of Santa Cruz. I first met Fatima when Karin and I moved to Bolivia in 2002. At that time she lived in Cochabamba. Under her tutelage I learned many things about Bolivian culture, the Spanish language and most importantly about the power of a life dedicated to Christ.
We had lunch together near the center of town and then Fatima and I took a micro (small bus) and a taxi-trufi back to her home. There she showed me the home her daughter has built and the separate space where she lives right next door. She told me about how her daughter had recently hosted 12 young adults from Juventud para Cristo (Youth for Christ) for nearly three months while they served the local community. That is a lot of people for a small house, but what a beautiful impact on the community and on the lives of these young people.
She also introduced me to her two dogs and especially to Shadow, just one month old. We had coffee and we opened with a short familiar prayer, "Jehov� es mi pastor; nada me faltar�". These words from Psalm 23 have been prayed by missionaries and Bolivian Christians for many years now. They are both a statement of fact and a declaration of faith. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." These are powerful words from a widow who lost her husband, only son and so many others. She has faced countless struggles physically and financially and yet she continues to serve her Lord. Her example is a testimony and a challenge to me.
I asked her how many missionaries, MKs and other she has taught over the years. Now approaching 90 years old with hearing and eye sight failing, she is no longer taking on students, but for 50+ years she taught, served and furthered the Good News in Bolivia. I said, "Was it hundreds or thousands," . . . she has lost count. But she did pull out a shoe box of photos and letters (one of many) showing how her past students had stayed in contact. She smiled as she shared story after story.
I suppose Fatima might be tempted to think she is forgotten, living far away from the city center with the busyness of life seeming to pass her by, but this is not the case. Her work, faith and ministry are carried on in people like myself and Karin, the Torre family who introduced us to her and many more.
Today we at Viva Bolivia salute Fatima! May we live up to her quiet, powerful and enduring faith and be an example to those we train, lead and empower in this beautiful country of Bolivia.
Update: September 14, 2018
Campamento de Sobrevivencia
Sometimes as a young person, especially a young teen, just making it through the day can feel like an exercise in survival. Isaac Quino who attends the 'La Evangélica de Dios Boliviana 9 de Abril' church observed this and decided to do something about it. He together with other local leaders decided to put on a Survival Camp for teens. The focus of the camp was leadership development and helping young people develop positive habits and skills so they can influence others and improve their families and communities.
Isaac applied for a leadership development grant from Viva Bolivia and we were pleased to join his team! The camp was held in the community of Esteban Arce, near Villa Tunari. Everyone did their part: The teens chipped in, Isaac volunteered his time, the church in Esteban Arce provided meals and lodging and Viva Bolivia helped cover the cost of transportation. Approximately 24 young people participated in the three day camp.
Keep up the good work Isaac! We at Viva Bolivia are so pleased to be on your team.
Check out their video
Update: June 30, 2018
Calera Grande in Mizque
The Cochabamba International Church Youth Group (Comunidad Joven) wanted to support a local missionary who has been helping the community of Calera Grande for a number of years. Ruban Mamani asked Christian who leads the CIC Youth if they could help this year.
A group of volunteers from the church set out on the long journey by bus. When they arrive on June 30th (Saturday) they put on two dramas for the community and on Sunday they held services in the local church. They preformed music and played games with the children from the community. The church is unstaffed and only occasionally meets because there is no pastor in the community. After the service they provided a meal for around 100 people and handed out school kits for the school aged children.
Christian asked us to help cover some of the cost of the trip, so we partnered with CIC and the youth to help make this even possible. We are so pleased to stand with leaders like Christian and Ruban Mamani who are making a real difference in the lives of so many in Bolivia!
Update: March 24, 2018
BAM in La Paz
Business As Mission has become a popular construct with Christian owned businesses all over the world. The idea is that you leverage your business for more than simply a paycheck. You invest in your employees and build up your community. You use your platform as a businessman or woman to live out your faith in the day-to-day.
A few years back Juan Jose, together with some local area businesses, formed a group called: Empresarios Cristianos Bolivia (ECB) to encourage each other in a similar vein. They get together to share ideas, bring in speakers and support each other. You can check out their Web site at: http://www.ecbolivia.com/
Their group (ECB) was invited to send a representative to the national conference of BAM leaders in La Paz. Alessandro volunteered and Viva Bolivia was please to provide a small grant to help him be able to attend the conference and represent ECB on a national level. Alessandro brought the books in the second photo back with him to share with the group.
Update: February 18, 2018
Flooding in Tiquipaya
The rainy season in Bolivia goes from November through March and often the worst flooding occurs in February. This year was no exception. What seems to change from year to year is where the worst flooding occurs. This year, some of the worst flooding in many years came to Tiquipaya. A small town just outside of Cochabamba.
So who steps in to help? Maria Elena has worked at VBPS SRL for a number of years and her church was on the ground helping to provide food and clean-up assistance. Her pastor put out the word that they needed some emergency funding and Viva Bolivia was pleased to help with a small grant to support María Elena's efforts. We are so proud of her, her church and the local community for stepping up and helping those who have lost so much during this year's flooding. Thank you to those who gave and made this grant possible!
Update: February 15, 2018
Grants update: 2017 Year-End Review
This past year donations were up and so was grant giving! We were able to distribute $7832.96 in strategic grants during 2017 and are hoping to do even more in 2018 (see chart).
Sixty-seven grants (14 more than last year) were given to 41 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was down slightly to $116.91 (note that some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to three broad categories during 2017. You can read about them in more detail on our Apply for a Grant page.
We gave to develop and encourage leadership in International Development Programs (34%), Job Preparation and Training (9%) and International Relief Programs (57%). It should also be noted that we also helped provide work for the entire VBPS team by hiring them to distribute our grants in-person from their office in Cochabamba (this cost is not included in the grant giving totals and is around $2200 per year). Their on-the-ground, local and in-person distribution is key to our success in building local leaders. Thanks to all who gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible. Let's do even more in 2018! Join us in making a difference by setting up monthly giving today - it's super easy, just click the link below.
Update: December 30, 2017
Christmas is a Time for Giving
Again this year, Viva Bolivia was pleased to give a grant to support the work of the Salvation Army (based in the community of Calicanto) which is just about eight kilometers outside of the city of Cochabamba. Juan Carlos from the Salvation Army headed up the event and worked in conjunction with a local church and a children's center (La Roca) to bring Christmas gifts to 85 children in Calicanto. In addition to a small gift, the children (and some parents) were also treated to some special goodies and the Christmas story. Way to go Juan Carlos! We are so pleased with the good work you are doing to reach out to and support your local community. Leadership in action.
Celebrating Danely's Graduation!
We are celebrating with Danely and her family and friends this month! She just graduated from the Laredo Institute in Cochabamba. The Laredo Institute is a public school with a fine arts emphasis (similar to magnet school programs in the USA). Entrance is competitive and yearly tuition and fees are required due to the special nature of the programs at Laredo. Danely follows in her sister's footsteps, being the second Viva Bolivia grant receipient to graduate from Laredo.
Danely loves dance and is hoping to study ballet at University. Viva Bolivia no longer offers these type of long-term educational grants, but Danely was grandfathered-in, as long as she continued to make good progress. VB supporters have helped her with partial tuition and fees since fourth grade.
We are so pleased to have played a small part in helping her become the educated, talented young woman she is today. And we are looking forward to her leadership role in the community in the years to come. Young people like Danely and her classmates give us hope for the future. Way to go Danely! We are cheering for you.
Dane is in the second row down on the far left
Dane with her sister Alee (left) and mom Roxana (right)
Fresh Veggies in the High Mountian Desert
In May of 2017, Nelson from SIAB approached Viva Bolivia with a need he had discovered in the high mountian community of Ispaya Este. VB has partnered with Nelson in the past and we were pleased to partner with him again.
The community is located at 11,500 feet above sea level and is about 145 kilometers outside of La Paz. One need the community has is for fresh vegetables. They are able to grow potatoes and onions, but leafy veggies need a warmer and more protected enviroment than is available in this environment. Nelson (who happens to be trained in agronomy) came up with the idea of an adobe greenhouse. The community members where excited and the school offered some land where the greenhouse could be built. Together with teachers, administrators and the local community, they did it!
Viva Bolivia was pleased to provide a grant to help cover the initial seeds and some building supplies to help make the project possible. In late November we got the latest update. The pictures below say it all. Way to go Nelson! We are celebrating with you and the entire community of Ispaya Este.
Update: May 31, 2017
CIC Awana Youth Leaders Retreat
This past February Johan Carlos from the Cochabamba International Church wanted to hold a special retreat for the Awana (Osana) youth leaders at the church. Viva Bolivia was happy to help support the event! This group of volunteer leaders (eight were in attendance) make a big difference in the lives of the children who participate in the Awana program all year long. This year they were able to rent a small cabin just outside of Cochabamba on Lake Corani for the weekend-long event. Thank you for helping these leaders grow and serve!
Update: March 8, 2017
Grants update: 2016 Year-End Review
This past year donations were down compared to last year, but grant giving was up! How can we do that? We were able to give more than we brought in due to some additional funds left over from past years. We were able to distribute $7047.75 in strategic grants during 2016 and are hoping to do about the same in 2017 (see chart).
Fifty-three grants (10 more than last year) were given to 35 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was up slightly to $132.98 (note that some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to three broad categories during 2016. You can read about them in more detail on our Apply for a Grant page.
We gave to inspire and encourage leadership in International Development Programs (30%), Job Preparation and Training (1%) and International Relief Programs (68%). It should also be noted that we also helped provide work for the entire VBPS team by hiring them to distribute our grants in person from their office in Cochabamba. This on-the-ground, local and in-person distribution is key to our success in building leaders. Thanks to all who gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible. Let's do even more in 2017! Consider a gift today.
Update: December 16, 2016
The Life Changing Power of Musicals
We are celebrating with JACU and all the volunteers (leaders), parents and young people involved in this program. Their focus is to use artistic forms (like plays and dance) to communicate good messages.
This play (a musical) was put on in La Paz and encouraged young people to treat each other with respect and love and to appreciate the differences in each other, rather than attacking or teasing those differences.
The theme of the evening was bullying, which is something young people face in school and on the streets - especially in the poorer, inner-city neighborhoods. These kids were from El Alto and La Paz. Viva Bolivia gave a $200 grant to help make this possible. Thank you!
Update: December 13, 2016
Christmas Came Early
Christmas came early for the students at the Mejillones School outside the city of La Paz Bolivia!
This is thanks to a grant from Viva Bolivia and our local leader, Nelson from SIAB. These students receive their most important meal of the day at school. Parents and teachers were providing the food, but needed tables, chairs, cups, bowls, spoons, forks . . . for their lunch room. We are so pleased to be able to help. Thank you to the many VB supporters who made this grant possible.
Why not consider a gift to help us make more grants like this one? It is amazing what we can do with only $500 and an inspired leader like Nelson. Thank you!
Update: October 23, 2016
A Visit to Bolivia
Jonathan, our volunteer Board President is heading to Bolivia for a short two-week visit. He will be arriving in Cochabamba on Tuesday morning at 9:30am local time. During his visit he will be spending time with the VBPS SRL team and meeting with some of the projects we support through our grants program. He will also be speaking at the Cochabmaba International Church on Sunday morning October 30th. He is looking forward to catching up with old friends and encouraging our grants distribution team based in Cochabmaba. For up-to-the minute photos from Bolivia, you can follow Jonathan on Facebook.
First $10K for FREE - Online Giving Made Easy!
We just updated our online giving system to make it easier to give and with even less overhead. The new system is through Crowdrise and in partnership with Network for Good. This system works great on mobile devices (and desktops) and costs us just slightly less than 3% as a charity. When you donate with your credit card, they will offer you the opportunity to cover this cost when you donate, but for the first $10,000 in donations Crowdrise has offered to pay the processing fee when it isn't covered by the donor, so feel free to remove this from your donation and let them cover this cost for us. Thank you Crowdrise! No time like the present to give it a try!
Donate via Crowdrise!
Update: March 1, 2016
Grants update: 2015 Year-End Review
This past year donations were up, thanks to a special one-time gift of $7000! ($8.5K in 2014 to $15.6K in 2015). Due to this increase we are starting 2016 on a high note. We were able to distribute $4318.84 in strategic grants during 2015 and are planning to do even more in 2016 (see chart).
Forty-three grants were given to 30 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was $100.44 (some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to two broad categories in 2015. You can read about them in more detail on our Apply for a Grant page. We gave to help and encourage leadership in International Development Programs (46%) and International Relief Programs (54%). Thanks to all who gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible!
Update: December 14, 2015
Christmas is a Time for Giving (donate)
This time of year we approve more grants than usual. These targeted leadership grants help people reach their communities to share the joy and hope of Christmas. If you would like to help make these and other grants possible, please consider a special year-end gift to Viva Bolivia (click donate above)! The photos below are from an event that took place on Saturday, December 12th for the children and families of Buena Vista Baja. For this event, Viva Bolivia partnered with the Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL team and Pastor Kim of La Buena Semilla. This is the second year in a row we have been able to partner with these groups to bring a special Christmas treat to this community.
Camps Change Lives
This past July Maria Elena from the VBPS office again helped to organize a youth camp. Viva Bolivia helped by giving a partial grant to help reduce the cost for participants and improve the overall camp experience. Young people from across Bolivia participated as did a number of churches. The camp was held in Vinto, just outside of Cochabamba. This year the three day event included 560 young people, the biggest camp yet! They stayed in tents (see photos) and enjoyed meals, games and seminars together. They had more than 10 local pastors participate and 8 special speakers came to help lead the break-out sessions. We are so proud of Maira Elena and her leadership again this year!
Youth for Christ
In Bolivia, Youth for Christ is know as Juventud para Cristo. In May of this year VB helped to sponsor a one day conference for local teens and young adults. There were 40 participants at the conference where they played team building games and heard from a speaker who focused on self-image and worldview in relationship to your position in the community, family, church and as a leader. David, the local Youth for Christ leader also attends the Cochabamba International Church. Way to go David! Keep up the good work.
Update: July 10, 2015
The Power of Clean Water
Clean drinking water is widely believed to be one of the most cost effective and life changing gifts you can give to help those who are struggling with basic needs. One missionary who has taken this to heart is Dale Harlan. Dale was previously based in Bolivia with SIM. Before Dale left, he set up the basic structure for a Bolivia-based organization called BOL-CAN. Today Viva Bolivia is helping BOL-CAN with a small grant to develop their legal foundation in Bolivia. Dale worked to build up a local leader (we love this!) and his name is Gonzalo Fiorilo.
Gonzalo is working on a shoestring budget and reached out to VB for help in the process of getting BOL-CAN established. In the meantime, Gonzalo continues to host teams from the US who help with water projects and to coordinate efforts in the villages and towns where Dale started the work. This past May he hosted a team from Cedarville who came to help with training and development. We are pleased to be a part of their team as they work to bring clean water, training about hygiene and truth from God's word to remote villages in Bolivia. And we are excited to see Gonzalo develop as a leader in this critical area of need.
Update: March 27, 2015
Sewing up a Storm of Hope
We are celebrating with the staff and students of Educativa Mariscal Andres de Santa Cruz. One of our favorite leadership grants to make is to help with education that can lead toward self-sufficiency. Job skills training that builds up individuals and teaches specific skills and soft skills needed to be a good employee or business owner are high on our list! In 2013 we partnered with SIAB (Servicio Intergal Agropecuario Boliviano) to help a school in Oruro (see Update December 4, 2013) with a baking skills class that also provided bread used at the school.
This past year we again partnered with SIAB. This year our project focused on job skills training in the textile industry. We helped by making a grant for new equipment (sewing machines). The school provided the location and teachers. SIAB purchased the equipment and coordinated with parents and local officials to make it all happen.
At the end of last school year they celebrated with an exposition of some of the products that the student made using their new equipment. Nelson sent a detailed report with 20+ photos of the delivery of the equipment and the project in process. Enjoy a few of our favorite photos below.
Update: February 23, 2015
Grants update: 2014 Year-End Review
This past year donations were down a fair amount ($11.2K in 2013 to $8.5K in 2014). Due to this decrease we gave out less grants, but were still excited to be able to distribute just under $5000 in strategic grants (see chart). Forty-two grants were given to 31 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was $116.52 (some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to three broad categories. You can read about them in more detail on our Apply for a Grant page. For 2014 our largest grant category by far was International Development Programs (89%), followed by International Relief Programs (8%) and International Economic Assistance Programs (3%). Thanks to all who gave to make these strategic grants possible!
Update: February 12, 2015
Christmas 2014 - Thank You!
This year we raised more than $1000 through the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge. This helped VB support six different Christmas leadership development projects. Numerous leaders (doctors, lawyers, accountants and pastors) from businesses and churches volunteered to reach out to their communities with Christ's love at Christmas.
Children were given gifts and those living on the streets were fed. Families celebrated together and many experienced Christmas in a special way. Thank you for supporting this powerful opportunity to help build up local leaders and support the local communities in and around Cochabamba through giving and encouragement. A few of our favorite photos are below. Enjoy!
Casa de Amor Celebrates 10 Years!
One of the organizations we have worked with over the years is Casa de Amor. They focus on providing loving homes and adoptions where possible for babies and young children. You can learn more about them at: http://casadeamor.org
This past year, Jennifer and her team celebrated their 10th year and were recognized by local officials and the local news. Viva Bolivia was please to help with a small grant to help cover some of the costs of getting the word out and encouraging this powerful ministry that helps those who truly can't help themselves. If you are ever in Cochabamba, be sure to ask for a tour of one of these homes. Truly they provide Homes of Love for children in need. You can meet their leadership team by visiting their Web site.
Update: December 18, 2014
Christmas 2014 - Crowdrise Holiday Challenge
Last year we raised $2000 though the Crowdrise Holiday Challenge. This year we are aiming to raise $5000! Want to join the fun? Just click the link below.
Update: November 24, 2014
Danely Scholarship Update
Most grants from Viva Bolivia are time limited and focus on a specific project. However, occasionally we have the opportunity to build into future leaders through longer-term scholarships. One example is Danely. We have been assisting her as she attends the Laredo Institute in Cochabamba. You may recall that her sister Alexandra graduated from this school in December of 2013.
This special school provides additional education in terms of music and dance. The addition of the Arts to traditional education provides for more time in school and also helps young adults to develop skills that would otherwise not be a part of their elementary and high school education.
During Jonathan's recent trip to Bolivia he was able to catch up with Danely and have lunch with her family. Here are a few photos from our time together. Danely is on the left in these photos. Included are her mom (Roxana) and sister (Alee). We are so proud of Dane and can hardly wait to see what the future holds for her!
Bolivia Trip 2014
Jonathan visited Bolivia this past October and early November. Below are a few highlights from the trip. The focus was on the VB team, grant recipients and following up with a few of the projects and ministries Viva Bolivia has supported over the years. Jonathan was also able to work with a Norwegian team who is developing student housing project and a low cost loan program to put college-age students through school. This is a ministry that grew out of Valle Hermoso and some of these children (now young adults) are already participating in the program!
Cochabamba International Church 2014
Jonathan attended two Sunday services at the Cochabamba International Church while in Bolivia. Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL continues to help with legal and accounting services for the Church and Juan José serves on the Board and teaches Sunday School.
Update: June 9, 2014
Staying Sharp - Tax and Accounting Training Seminar
Training grants can be used to help professionals sharpen their skills, learn new techniques, become better leaders and excel in their professions. Recently, Juan Jose (from VBPS SRL) and two other staff members wanted to attend a training seminar. We were delighted to help with partial scholarships! The additional costs were paid by them individually. Maria Elena, Omar and Juan Jose attended the two-day conference this past March. The conference was held at the local university (Universidad Mayor de San Simon). The focus was on tax law, accounting techniques and administration.
Leadership Camp 2014
In February Viva Bolivia helped sponsor a leadership camp for 45 young adults. We are so proud of María Elena who both works for Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL and who volunteers at her church as the president of the youth ministry. She applied for and was awarded a grant from VB to help keep the costs down for all the participants. This year youth from three different churches participated. The event was organized by the Evangelical Church of God in Bolivia and held in Cochabamba.
Six guest speakers including Pastor Isaac Quino, Efrain Paredes, Elizabeth Quispe, Pastor Mario Cabezas, Pastor Ivan Delgado and River Claure presented five training sessions to the group. Others led a number of instructional games and prepared the food. María Elena reports that a good time of encouragement, fun and learning was had by all.
Update: March 22, 2014
Flooding in Bolivia and How One Church is Helping
Flooding is common in Bolivia. During the years that Karin and Jonathan lived in Bolivia (2002-2008) nearly every January and February would bring some level of flooding. This was especially true at lower altitudes, but also affected cities like Cochabmaba and even La Paz. This year the flooding started in January and was particularly bad. You may have seen photos or news coverage. Many people lost homes, small businesses and live stock. According to Fox News as of January 28th, 2014 some 21,000 people were homeless and 30+ people had died as a result of these floods. Later in February the Christian Science Monitor reported that 58,000 families had been affected and 56 people had died.
One of the ways Viva Bolivia likes to help in times of difficulty is to support local leaders. This year many organizations, churches and individuals rallied to bring aid, including one of our favorites, Mano a Mano.
Pastor Centellas and about 20 members of the Abundant Life Church in Cochabamba also wanted to help. They had contact with some particularly hard hit areas of the Yuquis, in Ibiricuate and in Chimore. They asked VB if we would help with a small grant to purchase food, medical supplies, clothes and other items for families who were hurt by the recent flooding. In all they were able to help about 30 families (around 150 people) during this difficult time. We are so pleased to encourage this type of leadership in the community. Way to go Pastor! The photos below were sent to us after the team got back from the trip and include team members from the church and some of the distribution of the items they brought to support these communities.
Update: January 28, 2014
Grants update: 2013 Year-End Review
This past year we were able to increase our strategic grant giving to just shy of $8,000 (see chart). Eighty-three grants were given out to 43 different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was $96.23 (some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We have three broad categories that we fund through the grant making progress. You can read about them on our Apply for a Grant page. For 2013 our largest grant category was International Development Programs (48%), followed by International Relief Programs (38%) and International Economic Assistance Programs (14%).
Update: January 23, 2014
Congratulations Alee. This is just the beginning!
The Viva Bolivia slogan is, "Leadership for today, hope for tomorrow." Alee is an example of both! We met Alexandra as a small child back in 2000 when Karin and Jonathan visited Bolivia for the first time. She was just a few years old and was her mom's pride and joy. What fun it has been to watch her grow and recently to receive some photos and a thank you letter from Alee and her mom (Roxana).
Viva Bolivia has helped to sponsor Alexandra's education at the Laredo Institute in Cochabamba for a number of years (since about fourth grade). What a pleasure to see her graduate from this special school! Students at the Laredo Institute not only learn the basics but also have the opportunity to study music and the arts. Alee has become a smart and graceful young woman who is also a powerful ballet dancer. She even had the opportunity to travel to Mexico to represent her school there and preform at a number of special venues.
Their class theme was, "Aqui no se acaba" which loosely translates to, "This is just the beginning." And that is how we feel about Alee. We are so proud of her and her family. This has not been an easy journey and there are still many challenges ahead, but this is just the beginning. Thank you for helping to build a strong foundation for this budding leader. Your giving and support have made her education possible and she is such a great result! We are celebrating with their family and looking forward to seeing just what the future holds for Alee.
Every year Viva Bolivia gives special grants to help celebrate Christmas. This year we partnered with a number of local leaders and three local churches to help share the joys of Christmas with local children, some who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear the Christmas Story or receive a gift at this special time of the year. We are so thankful for the local leaders who did all the work and raised support, in addition to the grants Viva Bolivia provided. Below are just a few photos from the reports we received.
Holiday Challenge - Thank You!
We are so thankful to everyone who participated in this year's Holiday Challenge. Viva Bolivia was able to raise an additional $2000 through this effort and this helped us to sponsor some of our Christmas giving as well as to get us off on the right foot for 2014. Thank you! You can check out our page by visiting: www.crowdrise.org/vivabolivia-hc
Or, see an overview of all the participants at:
The Doctor Visits Asunta
One of our favorite leaders to support is Dr. Gareca. Below are a few photos from the rural community of Asunta. Jorge visited (thanks to Mano a Mano for flying him in) this community for three days this past November and reports that he and his team were able to help nearly 150 community members. They provided medical assistance, dental care and some basic healthcare training. Keep up the good work Dr. Gareca!
On a side note, some of you may remember this community from our very first Viva Bolivia video. The shots from the river with the men fishing using bow and arrow are taken from the river that flows alongside this community. You can watch the video again by visiting our Facebook page (scroll down to the bottom and look for the video entitled: Introduction to Viva Bolivia).
Update: December 04, 2013
The Power of Fresh Bread
We recently received some photos and a thank you letter from a grant we made earlier this year. The grant was given to SIAB, an organization we have partnered with in the past to bring Christmas presents to remote villages in Bolivia. This year Nelson (who leads SIAB) set his sights on helping a small school with a work-skills project.
The small rural K-12 school is located just outside the city of Oruro, Bolivia. The school's name is Paria. Nelson worked with administrators, teachers and parents to prepare a location, purchase a bread oven and other supplies and set up the program. Now children in this school are baking their own bread! Through this project they learn culinary and small business skills, and get to enjoy fresh, hot bread -- a special treat in the cold, high altitude of more than 11,000 feet above sea-level.
Below are a few photos from the school and a copy of the letter we received from the administrators and teachers involved with the project. We love projects like this that build up various leaders. From Nelson with SIAB to the local teachers and administrators in this school to the parents who got involved to help make this a reality . . . Not to mention the students who will benefit from the project for years to come! A win-win-win! Your gifts to VB help make grants like this possible. Check out our special Christmas giving challenge where you can join in the fun: www.crowdrise.com/vivabolivia-hc.
Update: November 06, 2013
Celebrating Valle Hermoso
This past week both Karin and Jonathan were in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with the Valle Hermoso children and the leadership team (21 of us in all). About one year ago the team decided it was time to close down the home (after 10 years of service). A decision like this is not easy and there are always a number of things to consider. It is not uncommon for a project or ministry to shut down or change the way it operates. What is uncommon is for the transition to be done in a thoughtful manner that respects both those who are being served and those who have worked with and for the project. Valle Hermoso, led by Aija Torre, has excelled in both areas!
The gathering in Santa Cruz at the Buganvillas hotel marked a milestone. Each of the children had been reintegrated with some member of their family (parents where possible, grandparents and aunts and uncles in other cases). Follow-up meetings at each of their homes have been ongoing this past year led by the local team (Margareta, Lilibeth and Ines). The time in Santa Cruz was scheduled to bring all the children (minus just a few) and the leadership from Norway and Bolivia together to review how things are going and to plan for the future.
While the children are now in the legal care of their family members, the local team will continue to be available to them for the next few years to come. Additional funds are being set aside to help many of the children with education and career training.
I am so proud to report that most children seem to be excelling in this new situation. For all of them there are real challenges ahead . . . and for some these challenges seem quite daunting. However, they all know that they have a "family" they can reach out to in Bolivia, Norway and even in the United States.
Update: October 31, 2013
Saturday Morning Staff Meetings
This past Saturday I was privileged to attend the Saturday morning staff meeting at Viva Bolivia Productos y Services in Cochabamba. The team here continues to grow. Saturdays are a bit less formal and after some house-keeping and meetings with the department heads (Accounting, Legal and Coffee) the entire staff gathers for some time together. From left to right (Juan Jose, Josue, Juan Carlos, Juan Kim, Mari Cruz, Maria Elena, Maria Jose). Viva Bolivia contracts with VBPS to help us distribute our grants strategically, responsibly and locally.
Update: October 22, 2013
Betania Children's Home Update
When Karin and Jonathan first moved to Bolivia they worked to help Vegar and Aija with several projects that Vegar's family had started, some from many years back. One such project was the Children's home in Oruro, Bolivia. The photo below shows some of the children, volunteer from Norway (on the right), Vegar and Aija (middle), Margareta (administrator from Valle Hermoso, left) and Christian and Cynthia (the faithful house parents for more than 10 years, right). It was such an honor to share this time with them as we celebrated the work that has been accomplished, thanked the Lord and heard from a few of the older children (young adults now). Some of them shared through tears about how their lives have been changed for the better because of the opportunities and love they received through this special place. Hope for tomorrow, personified!
A New Office for Roxana
Today I had the privilege of visiting Roxana at her new office. She was Viva Bolivia's first grant recipient and now is a practicing attorney here in Cochabamba. She shares her office with a partner and together they are working to build a business that can support their two families. Starting a small business is no easy task. They have been in this office for just over two months and what they need more than anything is new, paying clients. Keep up the good work Roxana!
Update: October 18, 2013
Tonight I'm sitting at SeaTac airport and waiting for the first of four flights to Cochabamba. I'm looking forward to seeing our friends in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Below is a photo from our very first visit to Bolivia. This little boy was sitting along side the road (highway) between Cochabamba and La Paz and was very pleased that his foreign friends had a nice little ball to keep him company. Sometimes a little kindness can go a long way . . .
Update: July 19, 2013
Today I was thinking of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This thought led me to Abelina and so I wanted to share an update. We first met Abelina at the Valle Hermoso Children's home in Cochabamba in 2002. Abelina is particularly special to us at Viva Bolivia because of her need for a prosthesis. Through a partnership with local churches in the United States, supporters from Norway and some special help from the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation we have been able to help Abelina a number of times over the years.
During our last trip to Bolivia we visited Abelina and her baby Ruth! Today they live in Santa Cruz with her sister. Abelina works as a Beautician doing manicures, pedicures and hair styling.
Grants Update: 2013 Mid-Year Review
So far this year we have given out grants to 21 different individuals and organizations. Most of these grants have been for less than $200 each and a number of recipients have received more than one grant. The total dollar amount as of June 2013 was just over $3000. This is a little low for this time in the year, but keeps us on budget with the limited funds we have. If you would like to help us make more grants, consider a special donation! Thank you for your support and for helping to make leadership for today and hope for tomorrow a reality in Bolivia!
Update: March 29, 2013
Alfa y Omega
For more than 10 years Pastor Rolando has been serving as Pastor at the Alfa y Omega church (in the southern part of Cochabamba). He is also leader of the Alfa y Omega folkloric singing group that gives concerts throughout Bolivia. Their group has donated time at the Cochabamba International Church to help raise funds for a burn victim and his family. Their music is featured in some of our Viva Bolivia videos. This singing group is a treasure for Bolivia.
Rolando's hand was recently injured in a serious wood working injury (while repairing some of their instruments). The cost of the doctor's bills were high and although the clinic discounted the cost nearly fifty-percent still there was a heavy burden on the family. Viva Bolivia was happy to be able to help with a small grant to cover some of these costs. If you would like to help with an additional gift, please contact: [email protected].
Update: March 27, 2013
Generacion Sin Fonteras
This past February the youth society at the Evangelica de Dios Boliviana - Jordan church held a three-day youth conference. Viva Bolivia was pleased to support our own, Maria Elena (accountant at VBPS SRL), who is the current volunteer President of this group. Together with her leadership and a small grant from Viva Bolivia (and other donors) the church held a successful event encouraging more than 60 youth from three different departments (states) of Bolivia. Each participant also paid a small fee and covered the cost of their transportation to the event.
The days were full of team building activities, fellowship, seminars, eating and playing together and two nights even went on beyond mid-night. We are so pleased to be able to support leaders like Maria as she works to encourage youth in Bolivia in their spiritual and moral life and in their relationships and skills as future leaders. Keep up the good work Maria Elena!
Update: January 18, 2013
When the Doctor Comes to Town
During the first nine days of January 2013 Dr. Jorge Gareca (a Bolivian doctor who works in Cochabamba) used his vacation time to deliver health care, toys, food, tooth brushes and the good news of the Gospel to four rural communities including: Tomaycuri, Titiri, C'ollpa and Macha.
Approximately 150 people were in attendance at each clinic in each village. The children are always particularly interested in the Bolivian Doctor driving up from the big city of Cochabamba in his 1970's Land Cruiser.
We have used strategic grants to encourage Dr. Gareca for a number of years and continue to be encouraged by the good work he is doing. Keep up the good work, Doctor!
Josue joined the Viva Bolivia team in Bolivia in 2012. He helps VBPS with coffee production and is learning some accounting skills along the way. This past Christmas he made a special request. We were so happy to be able to help (thanks to some year-end gifts). Following is an English translation of his thank-you letter to Viva Bolivia:
Viva Bolivia is a blessing for many leaders who follow the way of Jesus Christ.
My name is Josue and in my prayers I was asking God for a job where I could practice my career and God led me to Viva Bolivia. I work in coffee production and have the opportunity to practice accounting. God has provided me the opportunity to be a good man and to be able to serve in many ways.
My wife had problems with her pregnancy and we went to many hospitals to ask how we could solve the problem and they gave us the option of an operation (cesarean section). I did not know what to do! My wife and son were at risk of death if we could not get the operation and we didn't have the money to pay for the operation. I decided to pray and leave everything in the hands of God. Now with Viva Bolivia and our Lord who helped me with my family we were able to have the surgery! I know now that our Lord has plans for each of us and one of them was to take me to Viva Bolivia through God who helped me financially.
My first child was born on 12/27/2012 at 8:30am. Both mom and baby are healthy and happy. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to experience being a dad of a beautiful child.
Christmas in Alto Cochabamba
For a number of years Juan Jose volunteered at the King of Kings Church in Alto Cochabamba. He helped with music and helped to lead a program for local children. He is no longer able to volunteer on a regular basis, but still has a real heart for this church. This year they approached him with a request to help buy gifts for their annual Christmas celebration. Viva Bolivia was pleased to be able to assist Juan in this endeavor. On Christmas Day in the evening, nearly 55 children were present (and received gifts), along with their moms and dads. The church sent the following photos and a thank-you letter signed by the local leadership.
Celebrating 2012 as a Team
Viva Bolivia started an annual tradition of holding a special lunch for all our employees and their families on the last day of work for the year. Juan Jose has continued this tradition at VBPS. This year the lunch was held on December 22, 2012 at Paprika in Cochabamba and the whole team was there, including: Juan Jose, Maria Elena, Mary Cruz, Josue and his wife and Cristian and his wife and son. Viva Bolivia was pleased to provided a special grant to sponsor this annual team-building experience.
Update: December 5, 2012
Senior de Santiago Elementary School
For the past several years Viva Bolivia has sponsored extra classes for children who are falling behind academically. Actually, we sponsor a teacher-leader who wants to help these kids do better. This bit of extra help goes a long way toward helping the children in their education. The school is located just outside of Cochabamba.
This year's classes just finished up and Rosmery (their teacher) made some treats and invited Viva Bolivia to celebrate with her class. This year she focused on language and math. The photos below are from that celebration. Representatives from the staff, administration and the parents were all present to celebrate the kids achievements and each child received a small gift from Viva Bolivia. Juan Jose represented VB at the celebration.
Camp Pocoata in Potosí
Earlier this year we helped to sponsor a youth camp in Potosi. Actually, we purchased games, plates and glasses that were used at the camp by the camp leader we sponsored, Alfredo Martanez Choque. Alfredo has a real heart for camp ministry and finds that these events can make a big difference in the lives of young teens. He also finds that the camps help to bring the community together and to foster communication and better relations in general. Alfredo tells us that more than 300 teens participated in this year's camp.
Update: November 18, 2012
Valle Hermoso Children's Home
Valle Hermoso recently celebrated their 10th year! We are excited to look back and see how many lives have been changed for the better. Check our their Web site (click the image below) for more information. You will get to practice your Norwegian, because most of the sponsors are from Norway. Viva Bolivia is pleased to continue to be a part of the work at Valle Hermoso through Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL in Bolivia.
Roxana's Newly Minted Law License
Roxana completed the last step in earning her law license in Bolivia. She earned her degree in 2008, but has been working since then to pass the "bar" in Bolivia and she recently sent us a copy of her newly minted license! We are celebrating with her and her two daughters.
The Next Step Toward Sustainability
While Karin and Jonathan were in Bolivia for five months this past year (late 2011 and early 2012) they were able to help Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL take the next step toward sustainability! They offered Juan (who was already 70% owner) the opportunity to purchase the remaining 30% of the company. So, now he is the full owner of VBPS SRL!
Viva Bolivia now hires his company to be our representative in Bolivia, distributing grants and providing professional services on our behalf. This step was good for Juan and also for Viva Bolivia because all the proceeds from the sale were donated to Viva Bolivia to help with future grants to support our mission of leadership and development in Bolivia. To see some of the impact Juan's company is having, check out his clients page. The photos below are from earlier transfers that we made along the way as Juan took on more and more responsibility for VBPS SRL.