The Viloma School Project

by Amizade Global Service-Learning

Amizade’s school-building project in the community of Viloma, Bolivia is nearing completion!

Nestled against the dusty Andean foothills of the 16,900-foot mountain called Cerro Tunari, the small rural town of Viloma has no paved streets, and only occasional running water and electricity. The school along one of the rutted dirt roads provides educational services for elementary through high school students. Before Amizade became involved, the buildings were made of crumbling adobe and were dark and gloomy on the inside, with few windows and dirt floors.

One of the long, low buildings was a former cattle shed. There were narrow, rickety benches for the students, but no blackboards, textbooks or teaching materials. The library consisted of one 10-year-old paperback dictionary, some pamphlets on sex education, and assorted other donated paperback materials. No school bus transportation is provided, so students must walk to school, and some from outlying farms have to walk for two hours each way.

The Bolivian government pays meager wages to its teachers, but had provided no other funding for facilities or supplies in this country school of 500 students. The villagers of Viloma are too poor to provide much additional funding, yet too proud and ambitious for their children to give up on the school.

In the mid 2000’s, Amizade partnered with the Viloma community to build 8 new classrooms. Amizade started bringing service-learning volunteers for 10-day to 2-week work sessions, and the Viloma community has been providing designated supplies such as lumber and straw (for the roofs), and community members to work alongside Amizade volunteers.

Now in 2011, the 8 classrooms are nearing completion. In the past 6 to 7 years many Amizade groups, from high school and University students to Elderhostel / Road Scholar groups have worked alongside Viloma villagers to build this wonderful new school. Amizade volunteers have carried water, bent rebar, mixed and poured concrete, stuccoed walls, laid floor tile, painted window frames, and done many other construction tasks. Many Amizade volunteers have no construction experience, but there is always something for everyone to do, from the totally inexperienced to the expert, from the teenager to the senior citizen.

In December 2010 and January 2011, the last 3 roofs were completed! These roofs allow volunteers to complete the inside work on the classrooms – tiling the floors, stuccoing and painting the walls, inserting and painting the doors and windows.  This is a wonderful accomplishment and one that the entire Amizade community should be proud of.  However, while most of the money for materials and labor has been raised, Amizade is still $600 short of its goal for the roof project. Contributions to Amizade can be designated to go directly to the roofs for the Viloma school.

If you want to personally participate in the completion of the Viloma school project, sign up for one of Amizade’s open group volunteer programs in Bolivia for this summer or fall.