BOLIVIA: Street Child Education & Soccer School

Bolivia

Adventure Overview:

  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 3 months+

Volunteering with us in Bolivia will inspire you, make you laugh & will bring you a new perspective on life. It is in this project that all of life happens - from the youngest to the eldest, the whole community is represented here. There is amazing support & great friendships have been forged here, often in the most difficult of life circumstances.  

This fantastic project reaches out to those in greatest need, families on the edge, young people living rough, addicts & street children. It brings them all into a place of hope, understanding and acceptance. The staff provide education, micro-finance opportunities, sports & most of all a sense of belonging. 

Spanish lessons are included to help you learn or improve your Spanish skills while you help those in need, and have the adventure of your life!

This is an amazing way to experience the true Bolivian way of life and to get right to the heart of some of the issues that face the poorest communities in Latin America. The staff team here have established a great work that is reaching out to the street children, the homeless & those at risk of offending. It is a project with immense heart and compassion, and a place that will inspire you for years to come.

The needs of the communities in Bolivia are immense, it is the least developed country in Latin America and unlike its' wealthier neighbour Brazil it does not have a share in the wealth that comes from intense tourism to boost the economy. As a result those who are lacking within the communities are often left to fend for themselves, the projects that do exist to support them struggle to find the resources to keep their good work going and so this is where your time with our project can really make a difference.

The project team works in communities on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Cochabamba is a rapidly growing city and the new immigrants to the city tend to establish, either legally or illegally, communities on the edge of the city. Initially, these new neighborhoods lack public infrastructure and the “favela” style homes lack basic facilities such as water, sewers and electricity. Over time, some of the infrastructure issues improve as the communities become more established and the state-run systems begin to operate, but social problems often remain.

The people living in these communities are usually from very poor backgrounds and have come seeking work. Many of the adults are illiterate, work long hours for low wages and are frequently absent for long periods.

The children suffer from a lack of attention and they lack positive role models. Their families are unable to assist with their formal education. Children and adolescents are often required to work and many are left to fend for themselves or are expected to care for younger siblings – in extreme cases you will see 5 year olds looking after 3 year olds for 8 hours at a time.

These children are at risk of becoming victims of physical, psychological and sexual abuse and human trafficking. They lack support to escape the poverty trap.

The primary goals of all of the projects here are therefore:

  • To provide a safe environment for at least a part of the day
  • To remove some of the burden of responsibility and allow kids to be kids
  • To teach and demonstrate values that are at the core of a healthy society
  • To assist with and augment formal education to improve future prospects

The classroom is equipped by the team and provides essential learning materials for the kids. Each day each child also receives a healthy snack and drinking water that most do not have access to at home.

Typically, in each location, a team of around eight staff and volunteers will work with a group of up to 40 infants, children and adolescents aged between 2 and 17. Although we have rules (made by the kids themselves) and the day has some structure, this is not a traditional school environment.

The children participate on a voluntary basis – they come because they enjoy it and are treated well.

Each day the team offer a program of activities that are both educational and fun for the different age groups. The program needs to be flexible as many kids have other extracurricular activities and responsibilities so you never know who will show up or what special assistance they might need.

Whilst based here as well as the usual provision of accommodation, food, support & training you will also receive Spanish lessons to help you improve your communication skills. This truly is an experience like no other and an opportunity to bring your willing hands and fresh ideas to help a community project that is having a fantastic impact.

 

Cost Breakdown:
1 month€1053
2 months€1621
3 months€2154
1 Year€5700
 

What is Included?

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • 24 / 7 Support
  • Training
  • Information Pack
  • Accommodation: There is a comfortable volunteer house where all the volunteers stay. Occaisionally you might stay with a host family depending on the number of volunteers in project at the time.  
  • Food: During your time in project you will receive 3 meals a day during the week provided by the project. Bolivian cuisine is gorgeous so go with your appetite at the ready! Please note: meals are NOT provided at the weekend so you will need to cover this cost yourself. 
  • Training: All volunteers setting out on an adventure with us receive pre-departure training to help you prepare for the experience ahead. This training covers all the areas you need to think about before you pack your bags. It gives you time to focus and prioritise, and provides you with the knowledge and information you need in order to have a safe, fulfilling and enjoyable adventure. On arrival at your project you will also receive orientation training which will help you to better understand the local culture and support you as you find your way around this new country. On your return we will also support you as you readapt to life back home. We encourage you to keep in contact with us and consider opportunities for you to stay connected to the work you have been part of with Agapé. In addition to all of this training you will also receive a comprehensive welcome pack full of useful information on your project, the country and the culture, as well as detailed safety and communication lists.
  • Support: Agapé Adventures respects that each person is unique, and thus has different needs, and we endeavour to meet those genuine needs as effectively as we can. All volunteers are supported by Agapé every step of the way. You will be allocated a line manager to assist you in the day to day aspects of your adventure and staff at Agapé’s main base who will be available 24/7 for any out of hours emergencies. All staff involved in supporting you, work together to provide coordinated, personal and professional support throughout your adventure. 
  • Local SIM card: This is provided to help you to keep your costs down and to avoid any large phone bills greeting you on your return home! 
  • Airport Collection & Drop Off:  When you land into the airport at Cochabamba your project manager will meet you and bring you to your project base. We will also provide assistance in returning you to the airport at the end of your time to help you take back all those gifts you've picked up along the way! 

What Isn't Included

  • Adventure Package
  • Stipend
  • Visa
  • Flights
  • Insurance

What will I do?:

During your time in Bolivia you will have opportunity to get involved in a wide range of aspects of the projects' work, depending on your skills and interests. The areas you can assist in include:

Education:

English School: 

Although most children in secondary school have English lessons, they rarely get the opportunity to hear or speak with native English speakers. The team have fun ways to get them speaking, singing and playing games in English.

Many of the children are already bilingual in Spanish and an indigenous language and have the potential to learn English. They are also exposed to the English language through popular culture and the internet and, in many cases, motivated to learn. However, many parents and even their teachers do not take the subject very seriously and lack the skills to help.

The team therefore try and build the self-confidence and communication skills of the children by encouraging them to speak and understand spoken English. Due to the dynamic nature of the group, you will  use a variety of techniques and teaching aids including games, songs and movies.

Please contact us if you are interested to volunteer teaching English in Latin America as we are always looking for people with excellent spoken English who can come up with interesting ways to inspire the kids to learn.

Health and Nutrition: 

Many of the children live in communities or housing that lack clean water for drinking. Their diet is often very poor and hygiene standards are generally low. The programme tries to improve the immediate situation for the kids and educate them so they can better look after their own health.

The combination of poor diet and inadequate sanitary conditions put the kids at high risk of both chronic and acute diseases and infections which are entirely preventable. For a variety of reasons, healthcare is not always accessible. Sadly, the children you will work with are also in the high-risk category for physical and psychological abuse. Careful attention is given to appropriate care and support in these cases and you will be advised of the procedures on a weekly basis to ensure that each volunteer and staff member is clear on how to effectly care and work with these vulnerable children. 

Each day, for each child attending they are provided with (bottled) drinking water and a healthy snack – fruit, vegetables, eggs, high fibre biscuits etc. They also receive soap and water so each child can wash their hands before eating.

There are regular workshops delivered along with local professionals on different aspects of health – dental hygiene, healthy eating, personal hygiene etc.

The are also regular sessions with the kids aimed at preventing violence and other forms of abuse. The kids should know their rights and responsibilities and should know what to do if they feel their rights are being infringed upon.

The staff team also act as a watchdog. They monitor physical, emotional or behavioral changes that might indicate a problem and intervene if they feel that a child is in need of professional help. They maintain a local network of health and legal professionals who will offer services without charge and there is an emergency fund that will pay for essential medical and other services that the families cannot afford.

Soccer School:

Various streets and bridges of Cochabamba have become places of refuge for children and young people who run away from their homes at an early age. Many children from poor families end up on the streets in an attempt to escape from extreme poverty, situations of abuse and violence at home, or as a result of losing a parent or other family members. When ending up on the street, the children are easily accepted by the group in equal conditions. Moreover, they face serious problems such as drug addiction, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and social discrimination.

We believe that sport can be a step of getting children and young people off the street. It is therapy, it helps to keep them away from drugs and increases their self-esteem. You will help the project to coach football / soccer three times a week. 

Creative Projects: 

One of the problems faced by the children living in poor communities is that there is simply little time or encouragement for the children to learn skills and demonstrate talents that are not immediately “useful” or lie outside the formal school curriculum.

These gaps are filled by running projects which, although they might not have precise goals for knowledge acquisition or skills attainment, captivate, entertain and inspire the children and at the same time reinforce the core values that underlay all programmes work. These sessions help to  uncover and develop talents for art, music, acting, dancing, etc. that may otherwise lay dormant.

Where possible the team also try to augment the teaching of important subjects such as mathematics, sciences, geography, etc. as without parental encouragement, the children are not stimulated to learn and lack role models.

Some examples of projects undertaken to date include:

  • A theatre production with the children and volunteers doing set design and construction; props and costume design and manufacture; learning lines, stage directions and rehearsing; sound effects; promotional materials; refreshments for the audience; and of course the big day when the parents and community members were treated to the show.
  • A musical production of the Lion King along the same lines, but with song and dance added.
  • A project exploring the geography of Bolivia with emphasis on the different climate zones and the various flora and fauna to be found in each.
  • A project to design, build and fly some “rocket candy” powered rockets. This involved constructing and decorating the airframes; mixing fuel; building and charging motors; preparing the launch site; and, on the big day, counting down (in English of course) and sending them arcing into the sky.
  • Singing, dancing, percussion and guitar classes.
  • A mini-Olympics involving teams of children of mixed ages training, practicing and competing against each other in multiple disciplines.
  • Cycling classes. Thanks to a donation, we have a number of kids bikes of different sizes and teach the small ones how to ride, the larger ones how to ride responsibly and how to maintain and repair the bicycles.

The ideas behind these projects usually come from the volunteers and, as well as helping the children, they give opportunities for the local and for you as an international volunteer to exercise your creativity, showcase your talents, plan and take responsibility for a significant project.

The Local Area

Rough around the edges, superlative in its natural beauty, rugged, vexing and complex, Bolivia is one of South America’s most diverse and perplexing nations.

Every second of every day is an adventure in Bolivia. Just finding your way from summit to city can be a challenge in itself. Then there are the peaks, the rivers, the treks, the jungles, the gut-bursting mountain-bike descents, and the vast, impenetrable and remote expanses that tug you ever further into the wild. It’s a place that calls for a boldness and braveness of spirit, the kind of drive that took early explorers to the next rise on the horizon and the next turn on the river. For climbers, the steep mountain peaks offer a lifetime’s worth of adventure. Plunging from the Andes down to the edge of the Amazon, multiday journeys follow ancient Inca paving, making this one of the world’s top trekking destinations, while trips along rivers deep in the heart of the Amazon take you past the riotous barks of monkeys and a thriving mass of biodiversity that will leave you awestruck.

The cultural, historical and spiritual depths and richness of Latin America’s most indigenous nation are astounding. Officially declared a Plurinational State, Bolivia is a place to visit, learn from and experience a diverse mix of peoples. There are at-risk cultures and languages that could disappear within our lifetime, and traditions and beliefs that reach back to the days of the Inca Kings and Tiwanaku cosmologist priests. There are pastoralists and independent miners in the highlands whose marked pride in Quechua, Aymará and Uru roots is displayed in their ongoing patchwork of cultural traditions. In the forested depths and low-lying plains, you'll find a laid-back attitude in remote Guaraní communities which are slowly changing and adapting with the arrival of Quechua-speaking and mestizo settlers. In the cities, culture can change quickly – or purposefully slowly – as you move through a remarkably stratified society that includes both rich and poor, educated and underprivileged. At every corner a new snapshot, a new understanding will disrupt every stereotype, paradigm and tried-and-truism you ever had.

Bolivia is a wild place. And nature lovers, aesthetes and poets alike will find landscapes, views, and nature-born experiences not seen in many other places on the planet. The sheer amount of geographic, topographic, climatic and biological diversity will astound you. Then there are the playful bands of monkeys, the elegant and reclusive herds of vicuña and the over 1000 unique bird species to entertain, inspire and elevate you to a new proximity with the natural world.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bolivia#ixzz2a3RkKgMw

Map of the Area

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