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Making a difference – support for children development in Mayu Molino Village

Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and is grappling with many socio-economic problems that, to a large extent, are related to children. The group this project was aimed at were children and adolescents from the village of Mayu Molino near Cochabamba who were experiencing extreme poverty and whose families generally live off subsistence farming and frequently come from broken homes. This is due, among other reasons, to the fact that many parents are forced to seek work in distant regions of Bolivia in order to provide for their families. Under such circumstances, children are left under the care of the remaining parent or of their grandparents. At the same time, many families are affected by alcoholism and physical violence, and members of such families do not perceive education as anything of value: instead of going to school, children are required to help their parents at work. Young people raised in such dysfunctional families subsequently replicate this model in their adult lives.

Project activities were designed with the thought of changing the attitudes of parents and of stimulating the need for education and development in children by demonstrating to them the different ways in which they can spend their leisure time and by supporting them in their efforts to make up for their educational deficits.

The project was consistent with the key objectives of the National Development Plan of Bolivia, as it contributed to increasing the accessibility of education and improving its quality, and with those of the Bolivian Poverty Reduction Strategy, as it promoted democratic values and active participation in society.

Making a difference – support for children development in Mayu Molino Village

The project was executed between 1 August 2016 and 30 December 2016. The volunteer was in Bolivia between 1 September 2016 and 30 December 2016.

The key objective of the project was to create equal educational and social opportunities for children living in the Andean village of Mayu Molino, near Cochabamba. Project activities focused on strengthening their development potential, minimising the effects of poverty, and demonstrating a model for life that is different from the one generally accepted among dysfunctional families. The project reached out to 30 children aged 3 to 15 and approximately 150 adults.

The volunteer used the workshop framework to equalise the children's educational deficits and to stimulate in them a need for learning and personal development. She organised sports as well as art and craft activities, which helped stimulate their interests. She also conducted library classes, which involved reading books, playing educational games, and screening important films. During five one-day excursions, the children learned about their surrounding area and went to the cinema and a swimming pool. The volunteer also conducted classes on children’s rights, women’s rights and respect for everyone, and organised a family fun festival attended by nearly the entire Mayu Molino community.

The volunteer also held meetings with the children’s parents to discuss how to support child development. She also conducted classes for local schoolteachers in which she demonstrated how they can support the development of children’s reading and writing skills.

The project contributed to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 4, that of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Making a difference – support for children development in Mayu Molino Village

The volunteer conducted:

• two hundred forty hours of activities equalising the education deficits of 30 persons; at least 80% of beneficiaries improved their learning skills;

• twelve hours of training on human rights and women’s rights for 30 people; at least 90 per cent of the beneficiaries increased their awareness of those rights;

• one hundred thirty hours of sports and art and craft activities aimed at developing the interests of 30 people; at least 90 per cent of the beneficiaries expanded their sphere of interest;

• one hundred ten hours of library activities, with the result that 100 per cent of the participating children increased their interest in reading, important films and educational games;

• eight hours of activities for parents; 90 per cent of the participants gained new knowledge of ways to support their children’s development;

• eight hours of demonstration classes for local schoolteachers, who improved their teaching skills in working with children struggling with reading and writing skills.

The volunteer organised:

• A family fun festival (10 hours) for families of children and the entire local community (150 people), which afforded opportunities to demonstrate the effects of the volunteer’s project activities and the talents of the local children, such as through an exhibition of their artwork;

• Five day-long sightseeing and leisure trips around Cochabamba for 30 people, which helped the children learn some active ways to spend their free time.