Where We Work

Snapshot of Bolivia

8%

of people live below the poverty line

50%

lack access to improved sanitation

69

years is the average life expectancy

Bolivia has made strong social and economic gains in the past two decades; in fact, it has been South America’s strongest-growing economy in that time. Yet the nation stands at a crossroads, thanks to a controversial decision from its highest court to allow President Evo Morales to seek election for a fourth term.

As a member of the Aymara indigenous majority and with a background in a coca growers’ union, President Evo Morales was elected in 2005 on a platform of reform, workers’ rights, and advocacy for the poor and marginalised.

He renationalised the oil and gas industries and used the subsequent income to invest in social programs, lifting millions of people out of poverty. Between 2000 and 2015, the proportion of Bolivians living on less than US$3.20/day fell from 42 per cent to 12.9 per cent, and the number living in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90/day) improved even more dramatically.

In 2016, President Morales sought permission to change the constitution and run for a third term, but the people voted against the proposal. After initially accepting the outcome, the President later challenged it in court—and won.

Opponents have criticised the court’s decision as a “blow to the [nation’s] constitution”. Despite some calls for protest, Bolivia has remained relatively calm, but feelings of unrest may grow as the election, due in 2019, draws closer. Meanwhile, many children still live in poverty. Bolivia still struggles with the issue of child labour; many children of school age have traded the classroom for the workplace, often doing low-paid, difficult and dangerous work. It’s a move born of desperation, and while it may mean a slight increase in a family’s income, working children are at a long-term disadvantage when it comes to education and opportunities for stable employment.

Mario Vasquez

Letter from Compassion Bolivia Director Mario Vásquez

Dear Sponsor, Greetings from Bolivia! My name is Mario Vásquez, and I’ve been working for Compassion for about 33 years. I started as an errand boy, and 26 years ago I became National Director for Bolivia. I’m married; my wife’s name is Eva and together we have four beautiful daughters. And to complete the female domain in my home, we have a female cat as a pet.

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Juan’s Healed Heart

Juan Quisbert suffered strong chest pains from the time he was a young boy. “I couldn’t do physical activities. I didn’t pass physical education at school,” he says. When Juan was seven years old, he joined the Compassion program at his local church. When he was 13, a regular medical checkup revealed he had an arrhythmia.

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Prayer requests for Bolivia

  • Please pray for Diego, 13, a Compassion assisted boy who recently had one leg amputated below the knee after he was diagnosed with cancer. Please pray for his recovery from surgery and for his mother as she supports him. Pray that the cancer will not return and that he will receive an orthopaedic leg to help his mobility and confidence.
  • Pray for Jheyson and Edson, orphaned brothers who have been getting mixed up with a local gang. They have been separated from each other as a last-ditch effort to get them back on track. One lives and works with his uncle (he was thrown out of school) and the other lives with his grandmother. Please lift both boys (and their carers) up to God and ask for His restoration and wisdom.
  • Pray for the staff of the Cristo La Unica Esperanza Child Development Centre (BO0642) in Potosi, who are asking that God will provide them with resources to complete their construction of larger classrooms at the centre.
  • Please pray for Lizbeth, one of the staff members of the Compassion Bolivia national office. Lizbeth is pregnant and will soon give birth. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
  • And please pray for the political situation in Bolivia; for the growing unrest, widespread claims of corruption and the local drug trafficking and gang activity that is putting children at risk.