Updated: Sep 27
The support that families find at Project Sariry is always vital, however 2020 has presented urgent, new challenges to overcome. We have adapted our programs by delivering weekly food hampers to over 100 children and their families; providing psychological support through home visits and a help-line; and, providing ‘mobile education’ with instructors visiting one-on-one with children outside of their homes.
While the pandemic has hit virtually everyone on the planet, Bolivian families are in a uniquely challenging situation because the entire school year has been cancelled - both in person, and on-line. Much of the educational progress made in the community risks unravelling - due largely to a lack of access to the internet and low-literacy levels among parents, which makes home-schooling a challenge.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article in CSMonitor, featuring Elisa Aguilar, our program director, and two parents with children enrolled in Project Sariry.
Please read and if you think you can help, please consider donating to Bolivia Kids.
Excerpt from CSMonitor: Bolivia Cancels School Year. Parents Ask: What now?
Ever since schooling moved online last spring, just a month after classes started in the Southern Hemisphere, millions of Bolivians without access to the internet or electronic devices struggled to keep their children learning and engaged. The government argued that continuing digital classes through November, typically the end of the school year, was simply unrealistic – pointing to disagreements with the teachers union, its inability to provide universal education online, and the public-health danger of in-person classes.
For Alicia Layme, the pandemic has been a blur of stress. Her husband, a construction worker, lost his job. Her family, complete with an 8-month-old baby, 8-year-old, and 10-year-old, have been forced to move twice due to evictions over late rent payments.
“We don’t know what to do. We can’t cry anymore,” Ms. Layme says. “These schools don’t recognize the realities for so many of us.” Many students didn’t have a chance to buy their books for the academic year before Bolivia mandated a quarantine. She doesn’t have a smartphone, and before classes were called off, her kids’ teachers were frustrated that she couldn’t receive photos of assignments and print them out. Her kids told her she’s not their teacher when she tried to help them through tough homework.
But Ms. Layme says her family is fortunate in some respects. A local initiative run by the international NGO Bolivia Kids and the local Sariry Foundation delivers food and psychological support to communities surrounding La Paz. Roughly 30 families, or 70 kids, have weekly visits from three foundation staff who give informal lessons on the street in front of participants’ homes.
“Kids are desperate to do work,” says Elisa Aguilar, director of programs and community development for Bolivia Kids. On top of connectivity challenges, many parents don’t have enough education themselves to help their children with schoolwork. Staff members walk from house to house – there’s no public transportation running in the area – delivering printouts or giving lessons.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of kids dropping out of school next year – nationwide,” Ms. Aguilar says. “We’re trying to help in the ways we can, but at a certain point, we all feel powerless.”
Read the full article here.