Yesterday – A Lesson in Love

hallway(personal reflection by an employee of HOPEww – Bolivia)

The father opened a small door in the wall. We ducked down to enter. The contrast between the bright sun outside and the darkness of the hallway was blinding for a moment. The four of us followed the father through the dim corridor, up a narrow set of stairs and in another long hallway. We could smell food cooking and, despite the mud bricks used to create the walls and floor, the space was clean and tidy.  A sense of family and togetherness permeated the home.

We were led into a small, square, dimly-lit room. In the center was the tiny coffin. White flowers spilled onto the ground, brought by family and friends. The father quietly told us the story: what began as a cold quickly became so much more serious for a young child with cerebral palsy. He explained the trip to the hospital but how it was already too late. His anguish and his loss weighted every word.

After a few moments of silence, a woman in our group asked if she could pray. We took hands.jpghands and listened as she poured out her heart to God about this child and his family. It was only later that I remembered this woman’s own story. This particular woman had also lost her child in similar circumstances. And yet, she prayed and gave and wept and mourned. She offered comfort to this family when others of us could only imagine the loss they felt.

Later, as I was thinking through the day, I thought of how very strong this woman must be. So often, we do not enter a situation or a conversation because it may be painful for us. We avoid engaging in those things that may make us hurt, or may bring back painful memories of our own. This woman courageously immersed herself in this family’s pain. She sat with them for hours yesterday, listening and caring. Surely her heart must have been reminded of her own loss, but somehow she set her pain aside to be present for others.

I believe this woman demonstrated what love looks like: the courage to forget ourselves and be present for someone else in their suffering; the strength to enter into the dark places of pain with that other person despite what it may cost us. Yesterday, in the midst of deep sadness, I had the opportunity to witness this kind of love.

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

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Looking for an adventure this summer?!

We are THRILLED to host two incredible opportunities for volunteers in 2018! 

1. HOPEww Volunteer Corps #1 – Rurrenabaque, Bolivia 

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Child waiting outside of a clinic in Rurrenabaque

“Rurre” is a beloved rural city in Bolivia, close to the tropical Amazon region. It is a 30 minute flight from La Paz over the mountains. This group will be repairing, renovating, and painting classrooms and other buildings within the “Famila Feliz” orphanage. This loving refuge home houses and educates approximately 80 children who have suffered extreme abuse. We will also create a positive “Children’s Corner” within the two local impoverished hospitals, and are planning to support a community health fair. And of course, we will plan to enjoy a tropical riverboat trip!

2. HOPEww Volunteer Corps #2 – La Paz, Bolivia 

La Paz is the capital city of Bolivia. It was voted one of the “Seven Most Marvelous Cities in the World” because of its amazing beauty and high altitude within the Andes Mountains. HVC participants will serve within a variety of HOPEww Bolivia’s programs which support impoverished children and families.

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One of HOPE worldwide Bolivia’s most cherished families

We will focus on repairing and renovating family homes and/or community centers while building trusted, cross-cultural, relationships. We will also be sharing and expanding our “B-Olivia Lending Library” outreach through various hands-on reading and educational support/activities, as well as supporting existing programs within a hospital, orphanage, community center, and/or with individual families. Along with these exciting activities, this group will also get to experience the mountains of La Paz firsthand in a guided hike!

For more information regarding dates and expenses, visit https://www.hopeww.org/boliviahvc2018

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My Story

The following is a story from one our most dedicated and impactful staff members here at HOPEww Bolivia.  She is an incredible example of faith, perseverance and love.

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Zaida meeting with one of HOPEww Bolivia’s “Healthy Families”

My name is Zaida. I am 47 years old. After both of my parents passed away, I became an orphan at six years old.  For the next eight years, I lived in an orphanage surrounded by many other girls just like me. Living in an orphanage never compared to being in a home surrounded by family; parents, brothers and sisters.

When I left the orphanage, my insecurities only increased. Due to years of living without affection, and with my own lack of emotional maturity, I ended up clinging to a boy. I married very young, at age 22, and this only created many more troublesome issues. My marriage was full of conflict and other painful trauma, such as losing my son to a serious illness when he was only six years old. I suffered through situations of physical and psychological aggression. I came to believe that my life was hopeless. I was very scared. I became a victim of the situation, feeling like a failure, directionless and unloved.

Ten years ago I made the most important decision of my life. I started walking with Jesus. Over time, I began to realize that God could really use the things that I’ve been through to help others, and that there is a meaningful purpose for my pain. I now understand that God wants me to serve and support other orphans, mothers, individuals who suffer violence, those who lose their children, and even disoriented young girls and families who live in situations of economic and emotional poverty.

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Enjoying a book together within the Sala De Juegos

Last year, I received my degree in Psychology and now I currently work for HOPE worldwide Bolivia within the “Healthy Families” Program. I am also the Coordinator of HOPE’s Sala de Juegos Playroom within Hospital Arco Iris. I am very happy to have this opportunity to serve people. I am convinced that this is God’s plan for my life, and my past experiences have helped enhance and develop my talents, skills, and my love for others. I am also very grateful to be part of the incredible HOPEww team who love and serve God.

God has worked in my life, helping me to change my way of seeing situations. Now, I see my sufferings as opportunities to learn, to grow and to help others. Even more than that, I am the clay that is being molded within the hands of a perfect Artist. God has perfect plans for each of us and I hope I can, in one way or another, communicate that to every woman and child I serve.

If you would like to support the work of amazing women like Zaida, or if you would like to volunteer alongside of her, we would love to hear from you! You can find contact us here

Why ESL?

A taxi driver, a seamstress,  a psychologist and a mom with a young autistic son.esl-e1519246948255.jpg

What do these individuals have in common?

Every Saturday morning they, along with many others, meet together to learn the English language.

English is currently the most commonly spoken language in the world. A recent study of developing countries concluded that learning English can increase the earning power of individuals by around 25%.  The study went onto explain that developing economies need access to English if they are to competively grow and develop.

These statistics and others provide immense support for developing an English as a Second Language program here in La Paz, Bolivia.  However, for those of us directly involved in the program, we only need to look at the lives of our students to understand the impact of this program.

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The taxi driver, able to speak with Americans and other western visitors, will now increase both his clientele and his profits.  The seamstress will also increase her business as her clients spread the word throughout the wealthier, ex-pat, community of her ability to communicate in both Spanish and English.

The psychologist and the mom of the child with special needs gain access to valuable online resources. Most online research and information in the education and medical sector is offered primarily in the English language.  Because of this now-accessible information, the psychologist will receive additional training and education to better serve her clients. The mother will find invaluable resources and online communities to better help her young son.

These Saturday mornings together, learning and connecting, are helping an amazing group of diverse individuals grow their businesses, communicate with a broader population and access valuable resources.  If you would like to come and be a part of these classes, either as a student or as a volunteer, please contact hopewwbolivia@gmail.com!! We would love to have you join us!

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There is also the opportunity to help us support and expand ESL in Bolivia! If you would like to donate to support this incredible program, please click here .  Make sure to note “Bolivia ESL” in the comments section on the second page. Thank you!

Full Steam Ahead!

Looking back at 2017, we cannot begin to express our immense gratitude to each of our volunteers, donors and beneficiaries for their support, friendship and love! We wanted to provide you with an overview of some of our highlights from the year.  Though numbers can only communicate so much, we hope this summary provides a great picture of what God is doing here in La Paz and how He continues to grow our efforts to serve those most in need!

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To download a copy, click here

We are also incredibly grateful to all of you for your support and love this Christmas. We hope you enjoy reading below the wonderful ways you impacted our community this holiday season!

 

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As 2018 begins, we are excited as we look ahead to walking with you: serving within a rural orphanage and clinics, expanding our library, developing our Healthy Families Program, continuing our ESL program and offering ever-increasing opportunities for love and service to our hundreds of volunteers!

We look forward all of the adventure 2018 may hold and we can only imagine what God has in store for the people of Bolivia!

Christmas is coming…and we need your help!

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The holidays are right around the corner and we are busy thinking of how to bring love and joy into the hearts and lives of those we serve!  We have exciting plans, but they are only possible with the generosity and love of our faithful supporters.

Here are a few of the ways we are hoping to give to those in La Paz this holiday season:

  • Give blankets and bags of food to 120 of the poorest families in La Paz. We would also like to provide a photo booth at this event in order to give each family a priceless family photo.. a treasure for years to come!
  • Enjoy a Christmas celebration (hot chocolate and crafts) with 50 homeless children and parents, including a small gift, a bag of food and a blanket
  • Provide a movie night at a local girl’s orphanage, complete with hot chocolate (overflowing with marshmallows, of course!) and Christmas card making
  • Enjoy an afternoon celebrating the holidays with 10-12 orphan boys, sipping hot chocolate and playing games
  • Donate enough school supplies to begin the New Year to 75 children in a rural orphanage in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

Christmas1We are looking for helpers and invite you to join us! Whatever you have to offer,  your time through volunteering, specific items for donation,  financial support and/or even your prayers, your contribution will undoubtedly make a difference this Christmas!

If you would like to donate items and/or volunteer with us, please reach us at hopewwbolivia@gmail.com or at +591 7 584 5242.

If you would like to make a monetary contribution to our efforts, please visit:  https://www.hopeww.org/support-bolivia/

For a printable version of our wish list items, please click here!

 

HOPEww’s OPERATION: DELIVER HOPE 

We are all concerned about the intense challenges that face our friends and family members in Puerto Rico.
If you’d like to send your donations through HOPE…please read the announcement below and click on the links.

Greetings from HOPEww,

As many of you know Puerto Rico is reeling from Hurricane Maria. The storm knocked out the island’s entire aging power grid, blocked roads and left entire communities isolated. As of today (9/29), 80% of the cell phone towers are still down and it could take months for full electrical power to be restored. Water systems are not operational and emergency systems are scarce. Please be praying for these issues to be resolved quickly.

Thankfully, we have been able to communicate with our members in Puerto Rico, and despite extremely difficult living conditions, our partners are safe. The citizens of Puerto Rico are facing a long period of recovery from Hurricane Maria, and your help is needed now more than ever.

HOPE worldwide has been able to supply immediate cash relief of $5000 and now we would like to send shipments of much-needed supplies and resources to San Juan. We have set up a special service through the Gooddler organization by which you can purchase goods and have them shipped directly to our supply center in Florida.  These items will then to be delivered to San Juan.

The Gooddler organization has been an excellent partner in the past and has developed a special page that has the requested items from HOPEww San Juan. Follow the link below to see the items most needed in Puerto Rico at this time.

http://gooddler.com/Wishlist/10182

Thank you for all your love and support for those in Puerto Rico and beyond!
With gratitude

The HOPEww Team

If you would like to donate directly to disaster relief through HOPEww, please contribute at https://hopeww.kindful.com/?campaign=272543