Education and Preservation of Nature in Bolivia

Photo of child in BoliviaOur working area
The children of our projects live in blinding poverty. No schools are available for them. Their parents are environmental refugees from the Bolivian highlands (4000 meter altitude and higher). They were farmers in the dry and cold climate of the mountains. They harvested too few crops to feed their families. They became impoverished migrants in their own country. With their whole family, they moved to the Bolivian fertile lowland at the edge of the Amazon rainforest. There they slash and burn huge areas of the rainforest in order to gain fertile farmland. But they do not know a lot about tropical agriculture. After a short while the farmland is eroded and the soil fertility is lessened due to heavy rainfalls and strong winds in the dry season. Cultivation of land and even cattle farming are not reasonable on that degraded soil. Eventually these farmers move deeper into the rainforest and the cycle of doom starts again: slash and burn, ruthless exploitation of the soil’s fertility and destruction of biodiversity, erosion and aridity. They keep on living in the same poverty as with which they arrived to their new homes: undernourishment, no running water, no electricity, no roads, no medical care, no schools or training.  ¾ of the Bolivian rainforest is already irreparably destroyed. The ones who will suffer the most are the children.  Eventually they will inherit deserted land useless for agriculture.

The Children
Impoverished children suffer in silence. Born into poverty to parents struggling to survive on the exploitation of nature, these poor children live without access to appropriate education. Their future looks disastrous. The lack of knowledge , education and experience of the adults is transferred to the children. Kindergarten and schools do not exist. They live in small wooden huts without electricity or running water.

Leaving the children alone means they will continue the degradation of land, the irreparable destruction of nature and its biodiversity, and consequently the will live in further poverty.

Our Project
Effective development begins with the children of the poorest. Poverty and destruction of nature are interdependent and have the same root: deficient knowledge and little education among the farmers. We are supporting children and teenagers of the farmers to send them to schools in the nearest villages. For the first time in their life they get a chance at an education. Later, according to suitability, we are sending them to secondary or vocational schools with a focus on agriculture and forestry. Training and learning will guide them to their future lives as productive, self-reliant farmers. The acquisition of appropriate knowledge will enable them to search and use the resources that lie within their community to carry out their own development projects, overcoming the cycle of doom of destruction of nature and poverty.

We have extensive experience with our projects. For more than a decade, our organization, A W.I.S.H Bolivia supports the struggle for the preservation of the rainforest and fosters the professional training of agro-foresters. The objectives of our various projects are: to establish preschools and primary schools for the children, agricultural and silvicultural training for the youths, ad hoc counseling for the adults, information and training gardens for the community.

Photo of child in BoliviaChild sponsorship
It is not difficult to help a child. Our child sponsorship is the easiest way. You will get your “own child” for whom you will open the path to a primary school, and/or subsequently a secondary or professional school in agroforestry. Your help is transparent, effective and you always know where and for what your money goes. You will experience the joys of helping an impoverished child.

Sponsorship provides resources for a child. It is a long-term commitment of a ten to 15 year span of educational support for “your” particular child. All activities are done in collaboration with the leaders of the child’s community. You will also get much in return: You personally get to connect with a child and his or her community. You will be able to monitor the progress your support makes. We shall send you regular progress reports, and in addition, the child may send you letters and photographs. You can see how your donation changes lives, how you can make a lasting difference and help ease the pain of poverty and the destruction of the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many sponsors care for a child?
One-to-one relationship: our programs are designed to work one to one. Your child will have only one sponsor: You! Your name will be paired with the name of your child.  It will strengthen a lasting bond between you and your sponsored child.

How much does it cost to sponsor a child?
We ask for a minimum donation of Euro 35 (US$ 40.) a month for new sponsors. Many donors give Euro 40 (US$ 45.) a month.
If the expenses for schooling rise, we will inform the donors. Nevertheless, existing donors may continue paying their existing rate unless the financial gap becomes too great.

Where does the money go?
100% of the sponsorship money received will benefit your child. We are subject to stringent accounting and financial reporting procedures. Sponsorship funds are combined to support our educational activities for the children. The amount we use for each specific child is based on the funds received from sponsors and the approved administrative expenses. Additional financial gifts (birthday, successful school qualification/graduation) will be used exclusively for your specific child.

Can you write to children you sponsor?
The children always like getting letters from you. If necessary, we will help you with translations. However, we do not monitor your correspondence with a child and we do not urge a child to reply to every letter. We want your child to feel that what he or she is getting from you is unconditional.

Can you visit the children you sponsor?
Yes.  Please contact our office when you know your travel dates.  We will help you to arrange a visit with your sponsored child.
Your child will be happy to have you visit. Such a visit gives you the opportunity to see how your sponsorship is shaping the future of a needy child.

Can you choose a specific child for sponsorship?
We do not send out detailed profiles of our children to potential sponsors to choose from. You can tell us your preferences for your sponsorship, (boy, girl, approximate age,) and we shall seek to correlate your wishes.

What religion will my sponsored child be?
We completely respect the local religions and cultures of the region.  We do not try to influence or change any religion of our children.

Are there any changes in the program when the sponsored child is getting older?
Yes, when a child has completed a certain grade in school, we will confer with you. Usually when a child becomes about 12 years old, they are prepared to attend a vocational school, for instance in forestry or agriculture. The needs of teenage children are different than the needs of younger children.  Together with you we will work for individualized support for each specific child.

How can I get involved and make change possible?
After completing your sponsorship, you will receive information about your new sponsored child. We will send or mail you the child's photo, and a short description of his or her life including an overview of the child’s area and the conditions in which he or she lives, his or her postal address, and a specifically tailored support program for your child in order that you can see how your donation will be used. You will receive a handwritten welcome letter from your sponsored child or a family member.  About every six months you will receive a letter from your child and an annual photo. You are always informed about the changes and growth of your child. A W.I.S.H. Bolivia will also send you an annual progress report about the development of your child.

Cornerstones of our project policy:

  • All our projects are focused on the struggle against poverty and destruction of nature
  • Education is the key to our projects. School attendance is mandatory for all children in our programs
  • The support is unconditional for the children or any other beneficiary
  • We completely respect the religion and culture in our project area.  No change is aimed for..
  • Our work area is the buffer zone of the Bolivian rainforest.
  • A good relationship between the donor and the sponsored child is important
  • All conflicts are resolved through conciliation


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