By Dr. Kevin Broyles
Last week, the HOPE team had the privilege of donating suitcases of toys, shoes and clothing to two of the most rural and impoverished communities in Bolivia. The Ixiama and Tumupasa villages are more than 15 hours away from the city of La Paz. These remote villages are only assessable by washed out dirt roads. Hospital Arco Iris sent one of its’ mobile medical units with a paramedic and two of their finest doctors to provide medical care to families who live in these villages. In addition, the ambulance was carrying suitcases of filled with clothing and toys.
The actual population is undetermined but in 2005 the census was about 6,000 people in each village. Over 75% of the Ixiamas and Tumupasas are extremely poor. More than 90% of them do not have running water, sanitation or electricity and 80% of them live in houses with dirt floors. Less than 50% of the students finish high school. Most of their income is from logging and agriculture.
Over the past two years HOPE Bolivia has enjoyed hosting over 100 visitors. Most of our friends, family, volunteers and visitors have committed themselves to the “one suitcase challenge” (and at times one-half suitcase). They have brought one suitcase for themselves and another suitcase filled with clothing, toys and donations for the work here in Bolivia.
It is a joy to know that these gifts are going to children and families who are truly the “poorest of the poor”. It is also a incredible privilege for HOPE Bolivia to continue to work in partnership with Foundation and Hospital Arco Iris who have a genuine compassion and heart of sacrifice and willing to go out of their way (over 15 hours!) to provide desperately needed healthcare, clothing and toys to our “neighbors”.