Latest update

COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Bolivia, with 720 new infections reported on average each day of the week prior to 6th April. As of that date, the country had administered enough doses to fully vaccinate about 1.4% of its 11.6 million people. The national government closed the border with Brazil until at least 8th April in an attempt to prevent the entry of new strains of the disease.

Bolivian schools partially reopened in February after a year of being closed. Combined with the lack of personal computers and internet access, the shift to virtual learning has had a catastrophic effect on children in the poorest households, according to the United Nations, which warned that the consequences are devastating not just academically but also in development of social skills and overall mental well-being. In addition, the lengthy closure of schools puts children at higher risk of never returning or being forced into marriage or labor.

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COVID-19 in Bolivia

How is Compassion currently operating in Bolivia?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Currently, all Compassion child development centres in Bolivia are closed and group activities remain on hold.

    Staff and volunteers are calling beneficiaries and offering home visits where possible to provide spiritual and emotional support. Since the crisis began, staff members have distributed over 894,000 food packs and almost 434,000 hygiene kits and provided nearly 44,000 individuals with medical support.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    Letters are currently being delivered in Bolivia, although delivery to and from your sponsored child may take a bit longer than normal. We encourage you to continue writing to your sponsored child, as all children need words of hope and encouragement now more than ever before. Thank you for your ministry!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Bolivia. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to caregivers, where appropriate. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Bolivia who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff and churches who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • Pray that God would comfort Ruth’s father and siblings as they grieve her passing.
  • Pray for healing for a young woman as she continues to recover from the physical and sexual abuse she experienced as a child.
  • Pray that God would bring joy and peace to Saida as she learns and grows as a new mother.
  • Pray that God would continue to keep the pastors, staff and volunteers safe as they continue to support their communities’ children and families.
  • Pray for comfort and strength for Willian and his family as they grieve his father’s passing.
  • Pray that God would bring peace and stability to the Bolivian people and economy.
  • Peace and wisdom for the government officials as the pandemic has brought great strain to the country’s economy.
Providing support in Bolivia

Providing support in Bolivia

At her local church in Bolivia, Claudia is the only person approved to travel around her community and provide care for Compassion assisted children. Her work is crucial. Many neighbourhood children are vulnerable to abuse, especially during a lockdown.   Read more open_in_new

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, most child development centres in Bolivia are temporarily closed. Our local church partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Bolivia

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 to 14 visit the Compassion centre for four hours a day, two days a week.
  • Students aged 15 and older attend the centre for four hours a day, two days a week.
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Compassion Program Activities in Bolivia

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Compassion assisted children in Bolivia typically attend program activities at their local child development centre before or after school. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Bolivia.

Devotional time - Children are taught to pray.

Spiritual lessons - Children sing songs and learn Bible stories.

Break and snack time - Children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships. A snack often consists of an egg sandwich with tea, fruit shake with crackers, fruit salad, or bread.

Social-emotional lessons - Children learn conflict resolution skills and how to develop healthy self-esteem and a godly character. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

Lunch and social time - Children generally receive a snack and lunch at the centre twice a week. The meals typically consist of vegetable soup, a lentil burger, salad, rice, dessert and apple juice.

Health lessons - Children learn practical health and hygiene tips.

Letter writing and career planning - Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

Children are encouraged to join in sports teams, church and regional retreats and service activities (available for adolescents 12 years and older) such as cleaning up town squares and painting. Students can elect vocational training skills, such as computer literacy, pastry making, dressmaking and English.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Bolivia

155

mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

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. 2020 was a year of much political change for the nation. Former President Evo Morales resigned in 2019, following weeks of unrest over disputed election results.

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.

Jeanine Anez, a conservative senator, assumed the presidency on an interim basis after Morales stepped down. Elections were delayed by the COVID pandemic until October 2020, when the Mas socialist party were elected into power. President Luis Acre officially took office in Bolivia in November 2020.

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.

Yet local churches are working hard to reach the most vulnerable families with the love of Jesus and a hope more powerful than poverty.

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