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Snapshot of Bolivia


of people live below the poverty line


lack access to improved sanitation


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 October, 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

New prayer points:

– Please pray for Danitza, a compassion assisted girl who lives with her twin sister and father. Her father is the sole provider for the twins, after their mother left them. Danitza’s father recently had a bad accident is unable to work while he recovers. Please pray for healing, financial provision and for the girls to find comfort and peace in God.

– Pray for compassion assisted children Santiago and Abigail, who are both suffering pneumonia. Pray for healing and full recovery.

– Pray for Maria, a mum from the Mothers and Babies program, who was hit by a car. She is in intensive care and has had surgery. Please pray that God will heal her and take care of her family in this difficult time.

– Please pray for the construction work occurring in multiple churches in Challampita. The rainy season has impacted the work, causing multiple delays. Pray for favourable weather, and that the workers will not get discouraged and will persevere.

– Pray for those in La Paz who were affected by the recent landslide. Dozens of houses were destroyed, and many families displaced. Pray for those left in need; pray for provision, restoration and strength.

Stories from Compassion in Bolivia

03 Mar, 2015

8 Powerful Photos of Children's Rooms in the Developing World

These photos are a fascinating, and at times confronting, insight into the lives of children around the world in Compassion’s program... Read more

23 Oct, 2018

How a Bodybuilding Champion is Strengthening the Youth of His Community

High in the rocky hills of El Alto, Bolivia, Captain Marco Moya—a beloved church pastor and bodybuilding champion—is giving the young people of his community a healthy alternative to a life of violence and poverty. .. Read more

12 Apr, 2018

What Possessions Do Children Living in Poverty Treasure Most?

From remote, isolated tribal communities to bustling cities and crowded slums, 10 children in our Child Sponsorship Program share their treasured possessions. These are their beautiful, surprising and funny answers... Read more