2020 Winter Update from Jane
On November 20th we commemorate the United Nations’ adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Yes, there are days when I feel my children might have too many rights and freedoms!! Today, we reflect on the majority of the world’s children who do not. Our global norm is children living in chronic stress, experiencing frequent trauma, and unable to access quality education, health care, and pathways to wealth accumulation. A harsh and upsetting reality.
It's been a year of significant personal growth for me with Bolivia Kids. I've been in almost daily contact with our local partner, Project Sariry, and have repeatedly witnessed how vulnerable children are disproportionately impacted in times of crisis. The pandemic coincided with substantial political unrest in Bolivia, which resulted in the failure of many state systems. Of note, the Ministry of Education canceled all formal public education in Bolivia for the entire school year. This will likely lead to high dropout rates when kids do not return to school next year, and UNICEF Bolivia estimates an 8-10% drop in future earnings for this generation. As far as I know, no other government in the world did this. Despite the many challenges - which some days felt quite daunting - I would like to share with you how enormously proud I am of what we have achieved as a team. Together with Project Sariry, not only are we one of the very few organizations that maintained services in the area during this chaotic time - we expanded our support! Here are just a few highlights, all of which are ongoing due to continued restrictions and closures:
Hot Lunch - Delivered
Our hot lunch program transformed into a bi-weekly delivery of food hampers to the 70 children and their families enrolled at Project Sariry and an additional 30 families identified by the Ministry of Child Welfare in great need of support.
Together, we launched 'mobile education' and took education to the streets! Sariry instructors regularly visit students outside their homes to support learning. Education materials are also provided in the food hampers, and in some cases, families received tablets to support virtual learning, which Sariry instructors also offer.
Learning on Track
All 70 Sariry students and an additional 60 children from the community are on track with their learning despite the extended school closure!
Online Psychological Support
We've created new additional services to provide emotional and psychological support to families as the area has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus. The Sariry psychologist (who is the only psychologist in the region!) has counselled 25 children and 65 adults in the community. She launched a 24-hour crisis support line and connects with parents through an online support group.
There is no doubt 2020 has delivered a lot of stress and loss. It's also provided many opportunities for the human spirit to rise to the occasion. I am quite honestly overcome with emotion when I think of the incredible fortitude of the local team and Bolivia Kids' volunteers and supporters. We are a small grassroots partnership that has hit way above the belt during this crisis, learning and adapting as we go, answering the call, and striving to make things that seem hard happen.
Thank-you for choosing to support Bolivia Kids. Every one of you is an important member of our team. Together, we've created opportunities for children to survive, and THRIVE.
With much love and gratitude,