Latest update

Amid a spike in coronavirus infections, on February 1st 2021, Bolivia reopened its schools, which had been closed since last August. On that day, the country reported more than 48,000 active cases of COVID-19 and more than 10,000 related deaths.

Depending on the health situation in each region, classes are being held in person, virtually or through a combination of the two. At the end of January, unions of health workers and doctors were calling for a nationwide lockdown as hospitals were strained to the breaking point, but the government has not been willing to further disrupt the economy. Vaccination of health care personnel has begun.

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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 to provide spiritual and emotional support and visiting families where possible. Since the crisis began, staff members have distributed about 770,000 food packs and 375,000 hygiene kits and provided nearly 42,000 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:

  • God would provide a stable job for Erika's father.
  • Pray for a quick recovery for Amelia's older sister and mother so they can continue to provide for the family's needs.
  • Pray for strength and wisdom for Pastor Alberto as he recovers from COVID-19 and as construction is finalised on his church building.
  • Pray that God's comfort, love and peace would continue to surround Pastor Cristhian, Ricardo and Roberto with comfort, love and peace as they each grieve the loss of their wives.
  • Pray for God's healing hand over Pastor Aruquipa's mother as she recovers from illness.
  • Pray that doctors will understand how best to treat Pastor Trifon's lung condition.
  • God's healing hand and comfort to be over Pastor Carlos' daughter, who has arthritis.
  • God's wisdom and peace for the staff as they seek to register new children into the Compassion Program and plan for the year ahead.
  • 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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