Amizade Volunteers Help Turn Bolivian Partners’ Greeting Cards into Livelihood for Disabled Young Adults

by Amizade Global Service-Learning

In May 2003, Marvin and Martie Wachs traveled with Amizade as long-term volunteers to Cochabamba, Bolivia. During their stay, the Wachs dedicated their time and service to CEOLI – a center for handicapped children and young adults that provides medical, educational, and counseling services to almost 200 young people.

Marvin and Martie became particularly close to CEOLI’s art teachers and their students. As a part of occupational therapy for severely disabled adults, the teachers taught their students to hand paint greeting cards. They hoped to one day turn this therapy project into paid employment for these budding artists. Martie and Marvin recognized that selling the cards would be a good way to continue helping their Bolivian friends after returning to the United States.

The cards are individually hand-painted by CEOLI artists, all of whom are disabled. With careful detail, the artists use vibrant colors to depict pastoral scenes and daily life in rural Bolivia. On the back of each unique card is a picture and biography of the artist, connecting a personal story to the paper and ink in customers’ hands.

The card sale operation has significantly grown over the past six years. It now includes a Web site, and they supply a large array of gift shops, churches, schools, and civic organizations. Today, 11 young artists make a living – or partial living – selling cards. The card sales enable the artists to contribute to their families and reach people around the world, giving them confidence and hope for the future.

Now, Amizade donors can choose to receive CEOLI cards as a “thank you” gift for donations of $50 or more. Please visit our secure online giving portal to see samples of the cards and find more information on donating.