Location | Andes Mountains, Bolivia
Support | Community Initiatives in Bolivia
Service Opportunities | Construction at schools and community centers, tutoring children, working with disabled youth.
Cultural and Recreational Highlights | visiting El Cristo, La Cancha (the largest open air market in the Americas), Inca Ruins at Incallajta, Indigenous Parades and Festivals, salt flats, and sometimes Lake Titicaca
You will stay in or near Cochabamba, Bolivia (the third largest city, encircled by the breathtaking Andes Mountains); work with children or the elderly, or help a rural community build classrooms; and explore the culture through recreational activities and community events. Your volunteer service immerses you in the local community and offers you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the region’s most vulnerable people.
Cochabamba is located in a highland plateau and boasts a perfect climate with a daytime seasonal average of 72 F with no humidity. Cochabamba is a bustling city of 400,000 people, home to many beautiful plazas, fountains, churches, and the largest open-air market in the Americas. Despite the beautiful scenery and perfect climate, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in all of the Americas and faces a variety of social and economic challenges.
Lodging Guest houses and homestays | Food Vegetables, rice, beans, chicken, beef
Flights All flights go via La Paz or Santa Cruz | Visa Yes, obtained at the border or embassy
Communication Cell networks, internet, etc. | Closest Airport Cochabamba, Bolivia
Our Community Partners
Since 1996, Amizade has partnered with several effective community-based organizations, each working specifically to improve the well-being of people in the region. We try to match volunteers’ interests with community needs.
Ceoli provides education and healthcare to low-income children with disabilities and works with those children to develop self-sufficiency. Many Ceoli employees speak some English, so volunteers may begin serving immediately after arrival. Volunteers work in a number of areas, including health-related care, school administration, and student art projects.
Asilo de Ancianos “Buen Pastor”
Asilo de Ancianos “Buen Pastor” is a nursing home for men and women run by Roman Catholic nuns. In collaboration with many institutions and individuals, the sisters build small stores to rent to generate income to cover the costs of the residents’ care. Volunteers help care for the residents, and read and converse with them. They also help with construction. Basic Spanish skills are required to communicate with residents.
Viloma High School
Viloma is a rural community outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia. The current school is a small converted cow stable. Local masons supervise and teach both the Amizade volunteers and local community members during every part of the construction project. No special skills are needed to work on this project. A basic understanding of Spanish is helpful but not necessary in order to communicate with local workers and residents. Amizade volunteers have helped add several classrooms to the school building.
Cohachaca Chico School
Established in 2001, the Cohachaca Chico school provides education to 713 preschool, primary, and high school students. The school is part of the Bolivian Public Education System and the local authorities have helped with the initial construction of a few unfinished classrooms but the school, local leaders, and community members are seeking additional sources of support to complete the ceilings, add wall covering material (stucco), and finish the floors which are currently dirt.
The school has secured funding from the City Hall of Sipe Sipe that will allow them to complete the structural work for a 2nd floor and roof for the high school. The classrooms in this part of the building, which are in regular use by high school classes, are still a long way from providing a comfortable and safe learning environment for the students. The classrooms have only dirt floors, the ceilings are unfinished, and there are still not windows or doors.
Working with the community, parents, students, and local leader OTB Mr. Genaro Rojas, Amizade will support the school in completing and improving the existing classrooms as well as building new classrooms to accommodate the additional 50 students that the school expects to receive each year.
Amizade volunteers will work alongside the Cohachaca Chico community to help make this school the safe and welcoming learning environment that students need. The community is prepared to supply much of the raw materials such as sand, dirt, and rocks, as well as their own labor, but there is much more needed!
Review the Amizade Bolivia Site Handbook.
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I don’t know how she does it alone. Silvia, the doctor I have the pleasure of working with this semester, is a 25-year-old native of Cochabamba, Bolivia who loves working with the children at Ceoli; her passion for her job is evident in her interactions with the children. Her weakness is she only has two hands. With nearly 200 children who are constantly sick or hurting themselves as well as in need of basic regular medical care she needs another set or two of hands.
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This winter, three Amizade interns took part in Amizade’s Winter Break course in Bolivia. Here are their thoughts.
Chloe, West Virginia University:Mallcorancho Community Center…how can I describe this place to you? So many words come to mind (none of which I knew before arriving) so I will try to narrow it down to hermoso, feliz, bondadoso, generoso, amoroso, y brillante…beautiful, happy, kind, generous, loving and brilliant.
Less than 24 hours ago I was ambling from one plane to another connecting flight, through another security line, through customs, and then to baggage claim. Now, 5 minutes ago I finished my first day of class—my final semester of my undergraduate career. But, I’m not tired. I’m not exhausted. Oddly enough I’m not even too stressed, considering the situation. I am energized. I am refreshed. I am reinvigorated. I came back fully reassured that I want to continue studying Spanish; that I want to continue to foster a relationship with and support Amizade; and that Bolivia is Latin America’s best kept secret.
Out of all the programs he has participated in, Tom Murphy’s recent trip to Bolivia was his “best trip by far!” After traveling on three different Amizade programs, Tom Murphy is a well versed Amizade alumni and friend, he previously participated in programs to Poland and the Navajo Nation. In October, Tom traveled with Amizade on a Road Scholar program and had the privilege of spending two weeks in beautiful Bolivia.
After our first week of classes, we took a weekend trip out of the Cochabamba valley and into the jungle. We traded in the dry, high altitude Cochabamba for the humid lower lands of Villa Tunari in the province of Chapare. As we left Cochabamba, the road began climbing the mountains, but everything was still brown and dry like the city. Little towns and farms lined the road, which with the mountains and hills provided for a beautiful landscape.
Today, Monday Sept. 12, was another beautiful day in Cochabamba. It was also an important day; today was the first day of classes. The four of us from Amizade met at 9 AM to meet our new Spanish instructor, Toni. I had heard very good things about her from many people, so I was excited to meet and work with her. We met at her beautiful house where our class will be.
On our second full day in Cochabamba, Jean Carla planned to take us to the Cristo de la Concordia, which…
Sept. 10, 2011 On our first full day in Cochabamba, the four of us in the group decided to meet up in the afternoon at a park to walk around some of the city. As I walked to the park, I passed a lot of houses. Walls to protect from robberies surround most of the houses in the northern part of the city. This is a bit upsetting because the houses are very beautiful, but the five-foot walls that are topped with electric wire, barbed wire, or even broken glass mask the view of them. A lot of people have dogs, and there are also a lot of stray dogs on the streets. Most of the time though, these dogs are calm and harmless and don’t even lift their head as people walk by.
All four of us from Amizade were on the same plane to La Paz, and we ended up meeting each other in line for immigration and customs. All of us were unsure about what to expect while actually entering into Bolivia. Even though my Spanish is pretty good, I was really hoping the immigration and customs officers spoke English; they never spoke a word of English to me. I had to use my Spanish skills right from the beginning.
Bolivia is celebrating the beginning of spring. In Cochabamba, the snow is melting from the peaks of the surrounding Andes mountains. The jacaranda trees in plazas, gardens and streets throughout the city are sprouting vivid purple blossoms that frame the sky. Later, the blossoms will drift lazily down to the ground to form carpets of rich purple. Bolivian children are tingling with the anticipation of freedom – schools will let out for summer vacation by late November or early December. So it is the perfect time to celebrate the Dia de Peatones.
When Amizade volunteers travel to Bolivia, they are welcomed by the stunning landscape that is the Bolivian Andes. High and magnificent snow-capped mountains surround, offering breathtaking views in every direction. Amizade volunteers have the thrilling opportunity to ascend these lofty elevations as they journey to the heights of Cochabamba and the even more elevated La Paz during programs in Bolivia.
An exciting annual celebration has just recently reached its end near Cochabamba, Bolivia! The Virgin of Urkupiña festival is an…
Making your way through the vast maze of vendors and stalls in La Cancha, the largest open-air market in the…
I am often asked “Is it safe to travel in Bolivia?” In a word, “yes”. That being said…
This blog entry is part of a series of blogs from Marvin and Martie Wachs, long time friends and supporters…
Healthy and Safety
As you or your loved one prepares to serve with Amizade in Bolivia, you can rest comfortably with the knowledge that Amizade has an exceptionally strong safety record and ability to respond to any emerging challenges. We have safely partnered in Bolivia since 1996. For the most up-to-date health, safety, and security briefings, please review the following: