Update: December 6, 2018
Cheering on the Team in Bolivia
This past month I
(Jonathan) was able to spend a couple of weeks in Bolivia cheering on our
grant recipients and encouraging the team at
VBPS SRL. Below
are a few of my favorite photos from this time together with friends and
those Viva Bolivia supports. Once again I was reminded about the primacy of
relationships in building lasting positive change. We are so
1. Friends, family and supporters in the USA and Norway
2. The VB Board who volunteer
their time and expertise
3. Fellow missionaries who
encourage us and work for Bolivia
4. All our Bolivian
friends and the leaders we support
Together we truly are fulfilling our mission of, "Leadership for Today and
Hope for Tomorrow!"
This year again, Karin and I were pleased to
cover the cost of the flight to and from Bolivia, keeping more VB funds for
grants. These in-person trips are of critical importance to keeping
relationships fresh and working with issues that are difficult to address
when you are not there in person.
Update: November 1, 2018
Jehová es mi pastor; nada me
Yesterday I had the great privilege of visiting
Doña Zamora (Fatima), her daughter and grandson. They all live together
about an hour south of Santa Cruz. I first met Fatima when Karin and I moved
to Bolivia in 2002. At that time she lived in Cochabamba. Since then, I have
learned many things about Bolivian culture, the Spanish language and most
importantly about the power of a life dedicated to Christ.
We had lunch together near the center of town and then Fatima and I took a
micro (small bus) and a taxi-trufi back to her home. There she showed me the home her
daughter has built and the separate space where she lives right next door.
She told me about how her daughter had recently hosted 12 young adults from
Juventud para Cristo (Youth for
Christ) for nearly three months while they served the local community. That
is a lot of people for a small house, but what a beautiful impact on the community and on the
lives of these young people.
She also introduced me to her two dogs and especially to Shadow,
just one month old. We had coffee and
we opened with a short familiar prayer, "Jehová es mi pastor; nada me faltará". These
words from Psalm 23 have been prayed by missionaries and Bolivian Christians
for many years now. They are both a statement of fact and a declaration of
faith. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." These are powerful words from a
widow who lost her husband, only son and so many others. She has faced
countless struggles physically and financially and yet she continues to
serve her Lord. Her example is a testimony and a challenge to me.
I asked her how many missionaries, MKs and other she has taught over the
years. Now approaching 90 years old with hearing and eye sight failing, she
is no longer taking on students, but for 50+ years she taught, served and
furthered the Good News in Bolivia. I said, "Was it hundreds or thousands,"
. . . she has lost count. But she did pull out a shoe box of photos and
letters (one of many) showing how her past students had stayed in contact. She
smiled as she shared story after story.
I suppose Fatima might be tempted to think she is forgotten, living far away
from the city center with the busyness of life seeming to pass her by, but
this is not the case. Her work, faith and ministry are carried on in people
like myself and Karin, the Torre family who introduced us to her and many
Today we at Viva Bolivia salute Fatima! May we live up to her quiet,
powerful and enduring faith and be an example to those we train, lead and
empower in this beautiful country of Bolivia.
Update: September 14, 2018
Campamento de Sobrevivencia
Sometimes as a young person, especially a young teen, just making it through
the day can feel like an exercise in survival. Isaac Quino who attends
the 'La Evangélica de Dios Boliviana 9 de Abril' church observed this and
decided to do something about it. He together with other local leaders
decided to put on a Survival Camp for teens. The focus of the camp was
leadership development and helping young people develop positive habits and
skills so they can influence others and improve their families and
Isaac applied for a leadership development
grant from Viva Bolivia and we were pleased to join his team! The camp was
held in the community of Esteban Arce, near Villa Tunari. Everyone did their
part: The teens chipped in, Isaac volunteered his time, the church in
Esteban Arce provided meals and lodging and Viva Bolivia helped cover the
cost of transportation. Approximately 24 young people participated in
the three day camp.
Keep up the good work Isaac! We at Viva Bolivia are so pleased to be on your
out their video
Update: June 30, 2018
Calera Grande in Mizque
The Cochabamba International Church Youth Group (Comunidad Joven) wanted to
support a local missionary who has been helping the community of Calera
Grande for a number of years. Rubén Mamani asked Christian who leads the CIC
Youth if they could help this year.
A group of volunteers from the church set out on
the long journey by bus. When they arrive on June
30th (Saturday) they put on two dramas for the community and on Sunday they
held services in the local church. They
preformed music and played games with the children from the community. The
church is unstaffed and only occasionally meets because there is no pastor
in the community. After the service they provided a meal for around 100
people and handed out school kits for the school aged children.
Christian asked us to help cover some of the cost of the trip, so we
partnered with CIC and the youth to help make this even possible. We are so
pleased to stand with leaders like Christian and
Rubén Mamani who are making a real
difference in the lives of so many in Bolivia!
Update: March 24, 2018
BAM in La Paz
As Mission has become a popular construct with Christian owned businesses
all over the world. The idea is that you leverage your business for more
than simply a paycheck. You invest in your employees and build up your
community. You use your platform as a businessman or woman to live out your
faith in the day-to-day.
A few years back Juan Jose, together with some local area businesses, formed
a group called: Empresarios Cristianos Bolivia (ECB) to encourage each other
in a similar vein. They get together to share ideas, bring in speakers and
support each other. You can check out their Web site at:
Their group (ECB) was invited to send a representative to the national
conference of BAM leaders in La Paz. Alessandro volunteered and Viva Bolivia
was please to provide a small grant to help him be able to attend the
conference and represent ECB on a national level. Alessandro brought the
books in the second photo back with him to share with the group.
Update: February 18, 2018
Flooding in Tiquipaya
The rainy season in Bolivia goes from November through March and often the
worst flooding occurs in February. This year was no exception. What seems to
change from year to year is where the worst flooding occurs. This year, some
of the worst flooding in many years came to Tiquipaya. A small town just
outside of Cochabamba.
So who steps in to help? María Elena has
worked at VBPS SRL for a number of years and her church was on the ground
helping to provide food and clean-up assistance. Her pastor put out the word
that they needed some emergency funding and Viva Bolivia was pleased to help
with a small grant to support María Elena's efforts. We are so proud of her,
her church and the local community for stepping up and helping those who
have lost so much during this year's flooding. Thank you to those who gave
and made this grant possible!
Update: February 15, 2018
Grants update: 2017 Year-End Review
This past year donations were up and so was grant giving! We were able to
distribute $7832.96 in strategic grants during 2017 and are hoping to do
even more in 2018 (see
Sixty-seven grants (14 more than last year)
were given to 41 different individuals and organizations. The average grant
size was down
slightly to $116.91 (note that some recipients received more than one grant
during the year). We gave to three broad categories during 2017. You can read about them
in more detail on
our Apply for a
We gave to develop and encourage leadership in International
Development Programs (34%), Job Preparation and Training (9%) and International Relief Programs (57%).
It should also be noted that we also helped provide work for the entire
team by hiring them to distribute our grants in-person from their office
in Cochabamba (this cost is not included in the grant giving totals and is
around $2200 per year). Their on-the-ground, local and in-person distribution is key
to our success in building local leaders. Thanks to all who
gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible. Let's do even
more in 2018! Join us in making a difference by setting up monthly giving today - it's super easy, just click the
Update: December 30, 2017
Christmas is a Time for Giving
Again this year, Viva Bolivia was pleased to give a
grant to support the work of the Salvation Army (based in the community of Calicanto)
which is just about eight kilometers outside of the city of Cochabamba. Juan
Carlos from the Salvation Army headed up the event and worked in conjunction
with a local church and a children's center (La Roca) to bring Christmas
gifts to 85 children in Calicanto. In addition to a small gift,
the children (and some parents) were also treated to some special goodies
and the Christmas story. Way to go Juan Carlos! We are so pleased with the
good work you are doing to reach out to and support your local community.
Leadership in action.
Celebrating Danely's Graduation!
We are celebrating with Danely and her family and friends this month! She just
graduated from the
in Cochabamba. The Laredo Institute is a public school with a fine arts
emphasis (similar to magnet school programs in the USA). Entrance is
competitive and yearly tuition and fees are required due to the special
nature of the programs at Laredo. Danely follows in her sister's footsteps, being the second Viva
Bolivia grant receipient to graduate from Laredo.
Danely loves dance and is hoping to study
ballet at University. Viva Bolivia no longer offers these type of
long-term educational grants, but Danely was grandfathered-in, as long as she
continued to make good progress. VB supporters have helped her with
partial tuition and fees since fourth grade.
We are so pleased to have played a small
part in helping her become the educated, talented young woman she is today.
And we are looking forward to her leadership role in the community in the
years to come. Young people like Danely and her classmates give us hope for
the future. Way to go Danely! We are cheering for you.
Dane is in the second row down on the far left
Dane with her sister Alee (left) and mom Roxana
Fresh Veggies in the High Mountian
In May of 2017, Nelson
from SIAB approached Viva Bolivia with a need he had discovered in the high
mountian community of
VB has partnered with Nelson in the past and we were pleased to partner with
The community is located at 11,500 feet above sea level and is about
145 kilometers outside of La Paz. One need the
community has is for fresh vegetables. They are able to grow potatoes and
onions, but leafy veggies need a warmer and more protected enviroment than
is available in this environment. Nelson (who happens to be trained in
agronomy) came up with the idea of an adobe greenhouse. The community
members where excited and the school offered some land where the greenhouse
could be built. Together with teachers, administrators and the local
community, they did it!
Viva Bolivia was pleased to provide a grant to help cover the initial seeds
and some building supplies to help make the project possible. In
late November we got the latest update. The pictures below say it all. Way
to go Nelson! We are celebrating with you and the entire community of
Update: May 31, 2017
CIC Awana Youth Leaders Retreat
This past February Johan Carlos from the Cochabamba International Church
wanted to hold a special retreat for the
Awana (Osana) youth leaders at the
church. Viva Bolivia was happy to help support the event! This group of
volunteer leaders (eight were in attendance) make a big difference in the
lives of the children who participate in the Awana program all year long.
This year they were able to rent a small cabin just outside of Cochabamba on
Lake Corani for the weekend-long event. Thank you for helping these leaders
grow and serve!
Update: March 8, 2017
Grants update: 2016 Year-End Review
This past year donations were down compared to last year, but grant giving
was up! How can we do that? We were able to give more than we brought in due
to some additional funds left over from past years. We were able to distribute $7047.75 in strategic grants during 2016
and are hoping to do about the same in 2017 (see
Fifty-three grants (10 more than last year) were given to 35
different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was up
slightly to $132.98 (note that some recipients received more than one grant
during the year). We gave to three broad categories during 2016. You can read about them
in more detail on
our Apply for a
We gave to inspire and encourage leadership in International
Development Programs (30%), Job Preparation and Training (1%) and International Relief Programs (68%).
It should also be noted that we also helped provide work for the entire
team by hiring them to distribute our grants in person from their office
in Cochabamba. This on-the-ground, local and in-person distribution is key
to our success in building leaders. Thanks to all who
gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible. Let's do even
more in 2017! Consider a gift today.
Update: December 16, 2016
The Life Changing Power of Musicals
We are celebrating with JACU and all the volunteers (leaders), parents
and young people involved in this program. Their focus is to use artistic
forms (like plays and dance) to communicate good messages.
This play (a musical) was put on in La Paz and encouraged young people
to treat each other with respect and love and to appreciate the differences
in each other, rather than attacking or teasing those differences.
The theme of the evening was bullying, which is something young people
face in school and on the streets - especially in the poorer, inner-city
neighborhoods. These kids were from El Alto and La Paz. Viva Bolivia gave a
$200 grant to help make this possible.
Update: December 13, 2016
Christmas Came Early
Christmas came early for the students at the
Mejillones School outside the city of La Paz Bolivia!
This is thanks to a grant from Viva Bolivia and
our local leader, Nelson from SIAB. These students receive their most
important meal of the day at school. Parents and teachers were providing the
food, but needed tables, chairs, cups, bowls, spoons, forks . . . for their
lunch room. We are so pleased to be able to help. Thank you to the many VB
supporters who made this grant possible.
consider a gift to help us make more grants like this one? It is amazing
what we can do with only $500 and an inspired leader like Nelson. Thank you!
Update: October 23, 2016
A Visit to Bolivia
Jonathan, our volunteer Board President
is heading to Bolivia for a short two-week visit. He will be arriving in
Cochabamba on Tuesday morning at 9:30am local time. During his visit he will
be spending time with the
VBPS SRL team and
meeting with some of the projects we support through our grants program. He
will also be speaking at the Cochabmaba
International Church on Sunday morning October 30th. He is looking
forward to catching up with old friends and encouraging our grants
distribution team based in Cochabmaba. For up-to-the minute photos from
Bolivia, you can follow Jonathan on
First $10K for FREE - Online Giving Made Easy!
We just updated our online giving system to
make it easier to give and with even less overhead. The new system is
through Crowdrise and in partnership with Network for Good. This system
works great on mobile devices (and desktops) and costs us just slightly less
than 3% as a charity. When you donate with your credit card, they will offer
you the opportunity to cover this cost when you donate, but for the first
$10,000 in donations Crowdrise has offered to pay the processing fee when it
isn't covered by the donor, so feel free to remove this from your donation
and let them cover this cost for us. Thank you
Crowdrise! No time like the present
to give it a try!
Donate via Crowdrise!
Update: March 1, 2016
Grants update: 2015 Year-End Review
This past year donations were up, thanks to a special one-time gift of
$7000! ($8.5K in
2014 to $15.6K in 2015). Due to this increase we are starting 2016 on a high
note. We were able to distribute $4318.84 in strategic grants during 2015
and are planning to do even more in 2016 (see
Forty-three grants were given to 30
different individuals and organizations. The average grant size was $100.44
(some recipients received more than one grant during the year). We gave to
two broad categories in 2015. You can read about them
in more detail on
our Apply for a
Grant page. We gave to help and encourage leadership in International
Development Programs (46%) and International Relief Programs (54%). Thanks to all who
gave to make these strategic and powerful grants possible!
Update: December 14, 2015
Christmas is a Time for Giving (donate)
This time of year we approve more grants than
usual. These targeted leadership grants help people reach their communities
to share the joy and hope of Christmas. If you would like to help make these
and other grants possible, please consider a special year-end gift to Viva
Bolivia (click donate above)! The photos below are from an event that took place on Saturday,
December 12th for the children and families of Buena Vista Baja. For this
event, Viva Bolivia partnered with the
Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL team and Pastor Kim of
La Buena Semilla. This is the second year in a row we have been able to
partner with these groups to bring a special Christmas treat to this
Camps Change Lives
This past July Maria Elena from the VBPS office
again helped to organize a youth camp. Viva Bolivia helped by giving a
partial grant to help reduce the cost for participants and improve the
overall camp experience. Young people from across Bolivia participated as
did a number of churches. The camp was held in Vinto, just outside of
Cochabamba. This year the three day event included 560 young people, the
biggest camp yet! They stayed in tents (see photos) and enjoyed meals,
games and seminars together. They had more than 10 local pastors participate
and 8 special speakers came to help lead the break-out sessions. We are so
proud of Maira Elena and her leadership again this year!
Youth for Christ
In Bolivia, Youth for Christ is know as
Juventud para Cristo. In May of this year VB helped to sponsor a one day
conference for local teens and young adults. There were 40 participants at
the conference where they played team building games and heard from a
speaker who focused on self-image and worldview in relationship to your
position in the community, family, church and as a leader. David, the local
Youth for Christ leader also attends the Cochabamba International Church.
Way to go David! Keep up the good work.
Update: July 10, 2015
The Power of Clean Water
Clean drinking water is widely believed to be one
of the most
cost effective and life changing gifts you can give to help those who
are struggling with basic needs. One missionary who has taken this to heart
is Dale Harlan. Dale was previously based in Bolivia with
SIM. Before Dale left, he set up the basic structure for a Bolivia-based
organization called BOL-CAN. Today Viva Bolivia is helping BOL-CAN with a
small grant to develop their
legal foundation in Bolivia. Dale worked to build up a local leader (we love
this!) and his name is Gonzalo Fiorilo.
Gonzalo is working on a shoestring budget and
reached out to VB for help in the process of getting BOL-CAN established. In
the meantime, Gonzalo continues to host teams from the US who help with
water projects and to coordinate efforts in the villages and towns where
Dale started the work. This past May he hosted a team from
came to help with training and development. We are pleased to be a part of
their team as they work to bring clean water, training about hygiene and
truth from God's word to remote villages in Bolivia. And we are excited to
see Gonzalo develop as a leader in this critical area of need.
Update: March 27, 2015
Sewing up a Storm of Hope
We are celebrating with the staff and students of
Educativa Mariscal Andrés de Santa Cruz. One of
our favorite leadership grants to make is to help with education that can lead toward
self-sufficiency. Job skills training that builds up
individuals and teaches specific skills and soft skills needed to be
a good employee or business owner are high on our list! In 2013 we partnered
with SIAB (Servicio Intergal Agropecuario Boliviano)
to help a school in Oruro (see Update December 4, 2013)
with a baking skills class that also provided bread used at the school.
This past year we again partnered with SIAB. This year our project focused
on job skills training in the textile industry. We helped by making a grant
for new equipment (sewing machines). The school provided the location and
teachers. SIAB purchased the equipment and coordinated with parents and
local officials to make it all happen.
At the end of last school year they celebrated with an exposition of some of
the products that the student made using their new equipment. Nelson sent a
detailed report with 20+ photos of the delivery of the equipment and the
project in process. Enjoy a few of our favorite photos below.
Update: February 23, 2015
Grants update: 2014 Year-End Review
This past year donations were down a fair amount ($11.2K in 2013 to $8.5K in
2014). Due to this decrease we gave out less grants, but were still excited
to be able to distribute just under $5000 in strategic grants (see
Forty-two grants were given to 31 different individuals and
organizations. The average grant size was $116.52 (some recipients received
more than one grant during the year). We gave to three broad categories. You can read about them
in more detail on
our Apply for a
Grant page. For 2014 our largest grant category by far was International
Development Programs (89%), followed by International Relief Programs (8%)
and International Economic Assistance Programs (3%). Thanks to all who
gave to make these strategic grants possible!
Update: February 12, 2015
Christmas 2014 - Thank You!
This year we raised more than $1000 through the CrowdRise Holiday Challenge.
This helped VB support six different Christmas leadership development
projects. Numerous leaders (doctors, lawyers, accountants and pastors) from
businesses and churches volunteered to reach out to their communities with
Christ's love at Christmas.
Children were given gifts and those living
on the streets were fed. Families celebrated together and many experienced
Christmas in a special way. Thank you for supporting this powerful
opportunity to help build up local leaders and support the local communities
in and around Cochabamba through giving and encouragement. A few of our
favorite photos are below. Enjoy!
Casa de Amor Celebrates 10 Years!
One of the organizations we have worked with over the years is Casa
de Amor. They focus on providing loving homes and adoptions where possible
for babies and young children. You can learn more about them at:
This past year, Jennifer and her team celebrated
their 10th year and were recognized by local officials and the local news.
Viva Bolivia was please to help with a small grant to help cover some of the
costs of getting the word out and encouraging this powerful ministry that
helps those who truly can't help themselves. If you are ever in Cochabamba,
be sure to ask for a tour of one of these homes. Truly they provide Homes of
Love for children in need. You can meet their leadership team by visiting
Update: December 18, 2014
Christmas 2014 - Crowdrise Holiday
Last year we raised $2000 though the Crowdrise Holiday
Challenge. This year we are aiming to raise $5000! Want to join the fun?
Just click the link below.
Update: November 24, 2014
Danely Scholarship Update
Most grants from Viva Bolivia are time limited and focus on a specific
project. However, occasionally we have the opportunity to build into future
leaders through longer-term scholarships. One example is Danely. We have
been assisting her as she attends the
Laredo Institute in Cochabamba. You may recall that her sister Alexandra
graduated from this school in December of 2013.
This special school provides additional education in terms of music and
dance. The addition of the Arts to traditional education provides for
more time in school and also helps young adults to develop skills that would
otherwise not be a part of their elementary and high school education.
During Jonathan's recent trip to Bolivia he was able to catch up with Danely
and have lunch with her family. Here are a few photos from our time
together. Danely is on the left in these photos. Included are her mom
(Roxana) and sister (Alee). We are so proud of Dane and can hardly wait to
see what the future holds for her!
Bolivia Trip 2014
Jonathan visited Bolivia this past October and early November. Below are a
few highlights from the trip.
The focus was on the VB team, grant recipients and following up with a few
of the projects and ministries Viva Bolivia has supported over the years. Jonathan was
also able to work with a Norwegian team who is developing student housing
and a low cost loan program to put college-age students through school. This
is a ministry that grew out of Valle Hermoso and some of these children (now
young adults) are already participating in the program!
Cochabamba International Church
Jonathan attended two Sunday services at the Cochabamba
International Church while in Bolivia. Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios
SRL continues to help with legal and accounting services for the Church and
Juan José serves on the Board and teaches Sunday School.
Update: June 9, 2014
Staying Sharp - Tax and Accounting
Training grants can be used to help
professionals sharpen their skills, learn new techniques, become better leaders and excel in their professions. Recently, Juan
José (from VBPS SRL) and two other staff
members wanted to attend a training seminar. We were delighted to help with partial scholarships! The
additional costs were paid by them individually. María Elena, Omar and Juan José
attended the two-day conference this past March. The conference was held at the local
(Universidad Mayor de San Simón). The focus was on tax
law, accounting techniques and administration.
Leadership Camp 2014
In February Viva Bolivia helped sponsor a leadership camp for 45
young adults. We are so proud of María Elena who both works for Viva
Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL and who volunteers at her church as the
president of the youth ministry. She applied for and was awarded a grant from VB to help keep the costs down for
all the participants. This year youth from three different churches participated. The event was
organized by the Evangelical Church of God in Bolivia and held in Cochabamba.
Six guest speakers including Pastor Isaac Quino, Efrain Paredes, Elizabeth
Quispe, Pastor Mario Cabezas, Pastor Iván Delgado and River Claure presented
five training sessions to the group. Others led a number of instructional
games and prepared the food.
María Elena reports that a
good time of encouragement, fun and learning was had by all.
Update: March 22, 2014
Flooding in Bolivia and How One
Church is Helping
Flooding is common in Bolivia. During the
years that Karin and Jonathan lived in Bolivia (2002-2008) nearly every
January and February would bring some level of flooding. This was especially
true at lower altitudes, but also affected cities like Cochabmaba and even
La Paz. This year the flooding started in January and was particularly bad.
You may have seen photos or news coverage. Many people lost homes, small
businesses and live stock. According to
Fox News as of January 28th, 2014 some 21,000 people were homeless and
30+ people had died as a result of these floods. Later in February the
Christian Science Monitor reported that 58,000 families had been
affected and 56 people had died.
One of the ways Viva Bolivia likes to help in
times of difficulty is to support local leaders. This year many
organizations, churches and individuals rallied to bring aid, including one
of our favorites,
Mano a Mano.
Centellas and about 20 members of the Abundant
Life Church in Cochabamba also wanted to help. They had contact with some
particularly hard hit areas of the Yuquis, in Ibiricuaté and in Chimoré.
They asked VB if we would help with a small grant to purchase food, medical
supplies, clothes and other items for families who were hurt by the recent
flooding. In all they were able to help about 30 families (around 150
people) during this difficult time. We are so pleased to encourage this type
of leadership in the community. Way to go Pastor! The photos below were sent
to us after the team got back from the trip and include team members from
the church and some of the distribution of the items they brought to support
Update: January 28, 2014
Grants update: 2013 Year-End Review
This past year we were able to increase our strategic grant giving to just shy of
Eighty-three grants were given out to 43 different individuals and
organizations. The average grant size was $96.23 (some recipients received
more than one grant during the year). We have three broad categories
that we fund through the grant making progress. You can read about them on
our Apply for a
Grant page. For 2013 our largest grant category was International
Development Programs (48%), followed by International Relief Programs (38%)
and International Economic Assistance Programs (14%).
Update: January 23, 2014
Congratulations Alee. This is just
The Viva Bolivia slogan is, "Leadership for
today, hope for tomorrow." Alee is an example of both! We met Alexandra as a
small child back in 2000 when Karin and Jonathan visited Bolivia for the
first time. She was just a few years old and was her mom's pride and joy.
What fun it has been to watch her grow and recently to receive some photos and a thank you letter from
Alee and her mom (Roxana).
Viva Bolivia has helped to sponsor
Alexandra's education at the
Laredo Institute in Cochabamba for a number of years (since about fourth
grade). What a pleasure to see her graduate from this special school!
Students at the Laredo Institute not only learn the basics but also have the
opportunity to study music and the arts. Alee has become a smart and
graceful young woman who is also a powerful ballet dancer. She even had the
opportunity to travel to Mexico to represent her school there and preform at
a number of special venues.
Their class theme was, "Aquí no se acaba" which loosely translates to, "This
is just the beginning." And that is how we feel about Alee. We are so proud
of her and her family. This has not been an easy journey and there are still
many challenges ahead, but this is just the beginning. Thank you for helping
to build a strong foundation for this budding leader. Your giving and support have made her education possible and she is such a great
result! We are celebrating with their family and looking forward to seeing
just what the future holds for Alee.
year Viva Bolivia gives special grants to help celebrate Christmas. This
year we partnered with a number of local leaders and three local churches to
help share the joys of Christmas with local children, some who might not
otherwise have the opportunity to hear the Christmas Story or receive a gift
at this special time of the year. We are so thankful for the local leaders
who did all the work and raised support, in addition to the grants Viva
Bolivia provided. Below are just a few photos from the reports we
Holiday Challenge - Thank You!
We are so thankful to everyone who participated in this year's Holiday
Challenge. Viva Bolivia was able to raise an additional $2000 through this
effort and this helped us to sponsor some of our Christmas giving as well as to
get us off on the right foot for 2014. Thank you! You can check out our page
Or, see an overview of all the participants at:
The Doctor Visits Asunta
One of our favorite leaders to support is Dr. Gareca. Below are a few photos
from the rural community of Asunta. Jorge visited (thanks to
Mano a Mano for flying
him in) this community for three days this past November and reports that he
and his team were able to help nearly 150 community members. They provided
medical assistance, dental care and some basic healthcare training. Keep up
the good work Dr. Gareca!
On a side note, some of you may remember this community from our very first
Viva Bolivia video. The shots from the river with the men fishing using bow
and arrow are taken from the river that flows alongside this community. You
can watch the video again by visiting our
Facebook page (scroll down
to the bottom and look for the video entitled: Introduction to Viva
Update: December 04, 2013
The Power of Fresh Bread
We recently received some photos and a thank you letter from a grant we made
earlier this year. The grant was given to SIAB, an organization we have
partnered with in the past to bring Christmas presents to remote villages in
Bolivia. This year Nelson (who leads SIAB) set his sights on helping a small
school with a work-skills project.
The small rural K-12 school is located just
outside the city of Oruro, Bolivia. The school's name is Paria. Nelson worked
with administrators, teachers and parents to prepare a location, purchase a
bread oven and other supplies and set up the program. Now children in this
school are baking their own bread! Through this project they learn culinary
and small business skills, and get to enjoy fresh, hot
bread -- a special treat in the cold, high altitude of more than 11,000 feet
Below are a few photos from the school and a copy of the letter we received
from the administrators and teachers involved with the project. We love
projects like this that build up various leaders. From Nelson with SIAB to
the local teachers and administrators in this school to the parents who got
involved to help make this a reality . . . Not to mention the students who
will benefit from the project for years to come! A win-win-win! Your gifts
to VB help make grants like this possible. Check out our special Christmas
giving challenge where you can join in the fun:
Update: November 06, 2013
Celebrating Valle Hermoso
This past week both Karin and Jonathan were in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with
the Valle Hermoso children and the leadership team (21 of us in all). About
one year ago the team decided it was time to close down the home (after 10
years of service). A decision like this is not easy and there are always a
number of things to consider. It is not uncommon for a project or ministry
to shut down or change the way it operates. What is uncommon is for the
transition to be
done in a thoughtful manner that respects both those who are being served and
those who have worked with and for the project. Valle Hermoso, led by Aija
Tørre, has excelled in both areas!
The gathering in Santa Cruz at the Buganvillas
hotel marked a milestone. Each of the children had been reintegrated with
some member of their family (parents where possible, grandparents and aunts
and uncles in other cases). Follow-up meetings at each of their homes have
been ongoing this past year led by the local team (Margareta,
Lilibeth and Ines). The time in
Santa Cruz was scheduled to bring all the children (minus just a few) and
the leadership from Norway and Bolivia together to review how things are
going and to plan for the future.
While the children are now in the legal care of their family members, the
local team will continue to be available to them for the next few years to come.
Additional funds are being set aside to help many of the children with
education and career training.
I am so proud to report that most children seem to be excelling in this new
situation. For all of them there are real challenges ahead . . . and for
some these challenges seem quite daunting. However, they all know
that they have a "family" they can reach out to in Bolivia, Norway and
even in the
Update: October 31, 2013
Saturday Morning Staff Meetings
This past Saturday I was privileged to attend the Saturday morning staff
meeting at Viva Bolivia Productos y Services in Cochabamba. The team here
continues to grow. Saturdays are a bit less formal and after some
house-keeping and meetings with the department heads (Accounting, Legal and
Coffee) the entire staff gathers for some time together. From left to right
(Juan José, Josue, Juan Carlos, Juan Kim, Mari Cruz, Maria Elena, Maria
José). Viva Bolivia contracts with VBPS to help us distribute our grants
strategically, responsibly and locally.
Update: October 22, 2013
Betania Children's Home Update
When Karin and Jonathan first moved to Bolivia they worked to help Vegar and
Aija with several projects that Vegar's family had started, some from many
years back. One such project was the Children's home in Oruro, Bolivia. The
photo below shows some of the children, volunteer from Norway (on the
right), Vegar and Aija (middle), Margareta (administrator from Valle
Hermoso, left) and Christian and Cynthia (the faithful house parents for
more than 10 years, right). It was such an honor to share this time with
them as we celebrated the work that has been accomplished, thanked the Lord
and heard from a few of the older children (young adults now). Some of them
shared through tears about how their lives have been changed for the better
because of the opportunities and love they received through this special
place. Hope for tomorrow, personified!
A New Office for Roxana
Today I had the privilege of visiting Roxana at her new office. She was Viva
Bolivia's first grant recipient and now is a practicing attorney here in
Cochabamba. She shares her office with a partner and together they are
working to build a business that can support their two families. Starting a
small business is no easy task. They have been in this office for just over
two months and what they need more than anything is new, paying clients.
Keep up the good work Roxana!
Update: October 18, 2013
Tonight I'm sitting at SeaTac airport and waiting for the first of four
flights to Cochabamba. I'm looking forward to seeing our friends in
Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. Below is a photo from our very first visit to
Bolivia. This little boy was sitting along side the road (highway) between
Cochabamba and La Paz and was very pleased that his foreign friends had a
nice little ball to keep him company. Sometimes a little kindness can go a
long way . . .
Update: July 19, 2013
Today I was thinking of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This thought led me to Abelina
and so I wanted to share an update.
We first met Abelina at the Valle Hermoso Children's home in Cochabamba in
2002. Abelina is particularly special to us at Viva Bolivia because of her
need for a prosthesis. Through a partnership with local churches in the
United States, supporters from Norway and some special help from the
Foundation we have been able to help Abelina a number of times over the
During our last trip to Bolivia we visited Abelina and her baby Ruth! Today they live in Santa Cruz with her sister. Abelina works as a Beautician doing
manicures, pedicures and hair styling.
Grants Update: 2013 Mid-Year Review
So far this year we have given out grants to 21 different individuals and
organizations. Most of these grants have been for less than $200 each and a
number of recipients have received more than one grant. The total dollar
amount as of June 2013 was just over $3000. This is a little low for this
time in the year, but keeps us on budget with the limited funds we have. If
you would like to help us make more grants, consider a
special donation! Thank you for your
support and for helping to make leadership for today and hope for tomorrow a
reality in Bolivia!
Update: March 29, 2013
Alfa y Omega
For more than 10 years Pastor Rolando has been serving as Pastor at the Alfa
y Omega church (in the southern part of Cochabamba). He is also leader of the
Alfa y Omega folkloric singing group that gives concerts throughout Bolivia.
Their group has donated time at the Cochabamba International Church to help
raise funds for a burn victim and his family. Their music is featured in
some of our Viva Bolivia videos. This singing group is a treasure for
Rolando's hand was recently injured in a serious wood working injury (while
repairing some of their instruments). The cost of the doctor's bills were
high and although the clinic discounted the cost nearly fifty-percent still
there was a heavy burden on the family. Viva Bolivia was happy to be able to
help with a small grant to cover some of these costs. If you would like to
help with an additional gift, please contact:
Update: March 27, 2013
This past February the youth society at the Evangélica de Dios Boliviana -
Jordán church held a three-day youth conference. Viva Bolivia was pleased to
support our own, María Elena (accountant at VBPS SRL), who is the current
volunteer President of this group. Together with her leadership and a small
grant from Viva Bolivia (and other donors) the church held a successful
event encouraging more than 60 youth from three different
departments (states) of Bolivia. Each participant also paid a small fee and
covered the cost of their transportation to the event.
The days were full of team building activities, fellowship, seminars, eating
and playing together and two nights even went on beyond mid-night. We are so
pleased to be able to support leaders like Maria as she works to encourage
youth in Bolivia in their spiritual and moral life and in their relationships
and skills as future leaders. Keep up the good work María Elena!
Update: January 18, 2013
When the Doctor Comes to Town
During the first nine days of January 2013 Dr. Jorge Gareca (a Bolivian
doctor who works in Cochabamba) used his
to deliver health care, toys, food, tooth brushes and the good news of the
Gospel to four rural communities including: Tomaycuri, Titiri, C'ollpa and
Approximately 150 people were in attendance at each clinic in each village.
The children are always particularly interested in the Bolivian Doctor driving up
from the big city of Cochabamba in his 1970's Land Cruiser.
We have used strategic grants to encourage Dr. Gareca for a number of years
and continue to be encouraged by the good work he is doing. Keep up the
good work, Doctor!
Josué joined the Viva Bolivia team in Bolivia in 2012. He helps
coffee production and is learning some accounting skills along the way. This
past Christmas he made a special request. We were so happy to be able to help
(thanks to some year-end gifts). Following is an English translation of his
thank-you letter to Viva Bolivia:
Viva Bolivia is a blessing for many leaders who follow the way of Jesus
My name is Josué and in my prayers I was asking God for a job where I
could practice my career and God led me to Viva Bolivia. I work in coffee
production and have the opportunity to practice accounting. God has provided
me the opportunity to be a good man and to be able to serve in many
My wife had problems with her pregnancy and we went to many hospitals to
ask how we could solve the problem and they gave us the option of an
operation (cesarean section). I did not know what to do! My wife and son
were at risk of death if we could not get the operation and we didn't have
the money to pay for the operation. I decided to pray and leave everything
in the hands of God. Now with Viva Bolivia and our Lord who helped me with
my family we were able to have the surgery! I know now that our Lord has
plans for each of us and one of them was to take me to Viva Bolivia through
God who helped me financially.
My first child was born on 12/27/2012 at 8:30am. Both mom and baby are
healthy and happy. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to
experience being a dad of a beautiful child.
Christmas in Alto Cochabamba
For a number of years Juan José volunteered at the King of Kings Church
in Alto Cochabamba. He helped with music and helped to lead a program for
local children. He is no longer able to volunteer on a regular basis, but
still has a real heart for this church. This year they approached him with a request
to help buy gifts
for their annual Christmas celebration. Viva Bolivia was pleased to be able
to assist Juan in this endeavor. On Christmas Day in the evening, nearly 55 children were present (and
received gifts), along with their moms and dads. The church sent the following
photos and a thank-you letter signed by the local leadership.
Celebrating 2012 as a Team
Viva Bolivia started an annual tradition of holding a special lunch for all
our employees and their families on the last day of work for the year. Juan
José has continued this tradition at
VBPS. This year the lunch was
held on December 22, 2012 at
Páprika in Cochabamba and the whole team was there, including: Juan José, María Elena,
Mary Cruz, Josué and his wife and Cristian and his wife and son. Viva
Bolivia was pleased to provided a special grant to sponsor this annual team-building experience.
Update: December 5, 2012
Senior de Santiago Elementary School
For the past several years Viva Bolivia has sponsored extra classes for
children who are falling behind academically. Actually, we sponsor a
teacher-leader who wants to help these kids do better. This bit of extra
help goes a long way toward helping the children in their education. The school is
located just outside
This year's classes just finished up and Rosmery (their teacher) made some
treats and invited Viva Bolivia to celebrate with her class.
This year she focused on language and math.
The photos below are from that celebration. Representatives from the staff,
administration and the parents were all present to celebrate the kids
achievements and each child received a small gift from Viva Bolivia. Juan
José represented VB at the celebration.
Camp Pocoata in Potosí
Earlier this year we helped to sponsor a youth camp in Potosí. Actually, we
purchased games, plates and glasses that were used at the camp by the camp
leader we sponsored, Alfredo Martínez Choque. Alfredo has a real heart for
camp ministry and finds that these events can make a big difference in the
lives of young teens. He also finds that the camps help to bring the
community together and to foster communication and better relations in
general. Alfredo tells us that more than 300 teens participated in this
Update: November 18, 2012
Valle Hermoso Children's Home
Valle Hermoso recently celebrated their 10th year! We are excited to look back
and see how many lives have been changed for the better. Check our their Web
site (click the image below) for more information. You will get to practice your
Norwegian, because most of the sponsors are from Norway. Viva Bolivia is pleased to continue to be a part of the work at Valle Hermoso through
Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL in Bolivia.
Roxana's Newly Minted Law License
Roxana completed the last step in earning her law license in Bolivia.
She earned her degree in 2008, but has been working since then to pass the "bar" in Bolivia and she recently sent us a copy of her newly minted license!
We are celebrating with her and her two daughters.
The Next Step Toward Sustainability
While Karin and Jonathan were in Bolivia for five months this past year (late 2011 and early 2012) they were able to help Viva Bolivia Productos y Servicios SRL take the next step toward
They offered Juan (who was already 70% owner) the opportunity to purchase the remaining 30% of the company.
So, now he is the full owner of VBPS SRL!
Viva Bolivia now hires his company to be our representative in Bolivia, distributing grants and providing professional services on our behalf.
This step was good for Juan and also for Viva Bolivia because all the proceeds from the sale were donated to Viva Bolivia to help with future grants to support our mission of leadership and development in Bolivia.
To see some of the impact Juan's company is having, check out his
The photos below are from earlier transfers that we made along the way as Juan took on more and more
responsibility for VBPS SRL.