Summer of Service … Summer of “SEEDS”

Every year, HOPE worldwide Bolivia and the La Paz Church are thrilled to host volunteers and visitors from around the world who come to love, serve, learn from, and use whatever skills and talents they possess to help children and families who are living with the intense challenges of poverty. Needs are connected with resources. Hearts are forever bonded across the miles.

Everyone learns how to love a bit more like Jesus. And the world is changed for the better. One by one

We are excited to share about some of our many summer service experiences, and to hear from various volunteers how their lives have forever changed.

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HOPE worldwide Bolivia’s Open House… Dreaming together!

On Wednesday, March 13th, Fundación HOPE worldwide Bolivia hosted an exciting Open House to welcome our community partners, volunteers, friends, and families in order to share about our 2018 program achievements, as well as to share about our 2019 goals for our social programs. We also used this great opportunity to launch our community reading campaign “Donate a book…change a life!” Our dream is for every child and family in Bolivia to have access to positive, high quality books that encourage the love of reading and help to create healthy family bonding! Dream with us! Donate a book. Change a life! Contact us to learn more!

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”…I can do things you cannot. 

You can do things I cannot.

Together we can do great things.”

Mother Theresa

 

 

Christmas in Bolivia

“People Living in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light”

Abandoned, lonely, rejected, confused, fearful, orphaned, hungry, cold, hopeless…

Some or all of these words describe the realities and feelings of thousands of children, single parents, and vulnerable families living in extreme poverty in La Paz, Bolivia.
It’s a dark world for them.
Yet there is also light, love and hope.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…those living in the land of shadows now have a light shining upon them. You have given them great joy, Lord….You have made them happy.” (Isaiah 9). 
Throughout the year and especially at Christmas time, volunteers from HOPE worldwide Bolivia, the La Paz Church of Christ, the American Calvert School, and community friends join together to encourage and bring hope to the poorest of the poor in La Paz. This year, dozens of volunteers collectively donated hundreds of hours in order to collect and organize tons of food, clothes and toys for hundreds of the most needy individuals.
Last friday we created an afternoon filled with encouragement, hugs, fun, friendship, and singing for 30 of the poorest families (about 225 people) within Foundation Arco Iris’ Family Support Program. Each family received generous quantities of food, clothing, and toys.
On Saturday morning, volunteers prepared and provided breakfast for over 700 homeless adults and children who spend the cold nights in the downtown shelter at the Bus Terminal or who live on the streets. Many also received blankets, clothing, and toys.
And of course, all of these hurting individuals received lots of genuine love, encouragement, and hope. 
The HOPE worldwide Bolivia team is so grateful for all of our friends in La Paz and around the world who help us to “bring good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to comfort those who are mourn, and to bestow upon them a crown of beauty and praise…” (Isaiah 61)
Together, we shine out God’s light, love, and hope for those living in the darkness of poverty.
“…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.”
Indeed, it’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas here in La Paz!

Do You Really Need That Favorite Pair of Shoes?

Written by Joy Garcia

While serving in Bolivia on HOPE Youth Corps, God gave me the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be like Jesus. In a lesson earlier in the week, the speaker asked the crowd if we would be willing to sacrifice to the degree that we could give up our own shoes to the poor on the street who were without. That really struck my heart, to think about the selflessness that Jesus had for people. Jesus would have no problem taking the shoes off of his own feet to give to someone in need.

Later that week, we spent the day at a park playing with some of the poorest families in the La Paz area. While I was participating in a soccer game, I noticed the shoes of one of the boys who was playing. The sole of his right shoe had almost completely fallen off.  However,  he was doing everything he could in order to continue to play soccer with his torn shoe. These shoes were obviously not suitable to be worn anymore, let alone to play soccer in. Thanks to the lesson given earlier that week, my immediate reaction was, “Of course I want to give him my pair of tennis shoes.”  So I took my shoes off and had him put them on and they fit.  I told him he could keep them.

This situation really defines how God opened my eyes through this trip to Bolivia. Before, I think it would have been extremely difficult to give up any pair of tennis shoes to a stranger, let alone my favorite pair. But in that moment, all I could think about were his needs. And I believe that’s exactly the mindset that God wants us to have with everyone.

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Mountains of Courage

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Arancely with her grandmother, Alicia, at Hospital Arco Iris

Written by Jacqueline Chipkin

Arancely has slept on the third floor of Hospital Arco Iris for more than a month, but during the day she embarks on grand adventures. She hunts for buried treasure off the coast of Cuba, opens a bakery in La Paz featuring her grandmother’s secret recipes and braves ice and snow to reach the summit of mountains. With her imagination, Arancely leaves her failing kidneys behind to explore a world beyond operating rooms and hospital beds.

Before she arrived at Hospital Arco Iris, ten-year-old Arancely lived in San Pedro Prison with her two brothers, two sisters, mother and father. After weeks of frequent and painful urination, vomiting, and nausea, her father called Arancely’s grandmother, Alicia, and asked her to take Arancely’s to a hospital. Alicia lives on the streets, a “blessing in disguise” that she believes led her to Hospital Arco Iris. Alicia had often walked past the hospital while it was first under construction; when she was asked to take Arancely to a hospital, Hospital Arco Iris was the hospital she remembered and chose.

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Aracely with acute pyelonephritis, a bacterial infection of the kidney. When multiple courses of intravenous antibiotics proved ineffective, a team of specialists discovered structural abnormalities in her urinary tract and decided to proceed with two surgeries.

Despite rigorous and painful treatment, Alicia says that Arancely is never afraid. She befriends everyone around her, including doctors, nurses and fellow pediatric patients. When HOPE worldwide Bolivia volunteers bring her puzzles and books, she is always eager to play, read and learn. Upon leaving the hospital, Arancely says she is most excited to return to school. She anticipates having no time to play with her friends because she will be busy completing “a mountain of missed homework.” Her grandmother admires her intelligence and commitment. She hopes Arancely will continue to study and value her education.

Alicia attests that doctors and volunteers cured Arancely’s pain and her own fears with patience and understanding. Alicia draws her faith from God, praying each night for the recovery of not only Arancely but all the hospital’s children. She is deeply thankful for the care that Hospital Arco Iris and the HOPE worldwide Bolivia team have provided for her granddaughter.

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Jacqueline Chipkin is a medical student at DUKE and volunteered with HOPE worldwide Bolivia for two months, spending time with patients at Hospital Arco Iris and recording their stories.

Relationships are the Energy of Life

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David Spratte is a college student at the University of North Carolina, where he is studying to become a physician. He came to La Paz in order to conduct a study with HOPE worldwide Bolivia for two months at Hospital Arco Iris. Below, he shares about his experience:

“I believe relationships are the energy of life.  For this reason, I developed a research project to explore how the interpersonal relationship between the physician and patient can affect patient satisfaction. I thought that it could be an inexpensive means of acquiring a higher quality of care for all patients within the hospital.

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Hospital Arco Iris (HAI) was excited to host an independent study that would reveal the current level of patient satisfaction and indicate any changes that physicians could make that would increase the overall level of patient satisfaction with health care. Although HAI is one of the best hospitals in La Paz, they are constantly striving to provide the best patient care possible.

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David talked with hundreds of patients over the course of two months as he conducted his research study.

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Not only did I find my research project to be extremely fulfilling, but I also treasured my experience working with the HOPE worldwide Bolivia team.  Wow, where do I begin?

On my last day in the hospital my friends from the States came by to visit and meet the HOPE worldwide Bolivia staff. After meeting Noelle they said, “she is the nicest, most loving person that we have ever met.” But this is true of everyone who works with Hope worldwide Bolivia team. They taught me more than I could have ever asked for. Their unwavering passion and fiery desire to have a positive impact in La Paz is truly inspiring. You can see it in their eyes every single day. They are consistently passionate in their efforts to improve the lives and the health care for the poor in Bolivia.

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David with the HOPE worldwide Bolivia Team

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David with his friends from the States who came to visit him.

Overall, my time in La Paz was an amazing journey. I came to conduct a research project, but I quickly learned that this was not my only purpose. I believe that I actually came in order to learn from some of the most inspiring and selfless people that I have ever met.

Until next time, Bolivia, I love you and will miss you dearly. See you soon.”

HOPE worldwide Bolivia, along with your support and donations, is bringing hope and changing lives in La Paz through programs in health and social services.  We are working together with Hospital Arco Iris and Foundation Arco Iris to bring food, clothing, education and healthcare to over 30,000 street children and thousands of vulnerable children and families.  We need your help to continue this work.  Please consider making a donation today to help make a difference in the lives of the poor and needy in La Paz.

Thank you, as always, for your partnership in this vital work.

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David Spratte, a college student from the University of North Carolina, spent two months volunteering with HOPE worldwide Bolivia. He conducted a two-month research study at Hospital Arco Iris.

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David presented his research findings to the medical staff at Hospital Arco Iris.

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David presented his research findings to the medical staff at Hospital Arco Iris.

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David presented his research findings to the medical staff at Hospital Arco Iris.

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David with two of the doctors at Hospital Arco Iris

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David with two of the security guards at the hospital. He made friends everywhere he went!

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David with some of the hospital cafeteria staff. He made friends everywhere he went!

THIS is Living! :: Northview Teens Give Their Hearts to Bolivia

For the third year in a row, a group of volunteers from the Northview Church, located in Roswell, GA, served with the HOPE worldwide Bolivia team for nine days.  The group, comprised of eight teens and four adults, poured themselves out and gave selflessly to work with the poor.  A few of the volunteers shared about the impact of their experiences in Bolivia. Be sure to check out the photos and video below!
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Melina Cole :: “My experience in Bolivia was an eye opening one. I loved being able to go and serve the people in La Paz. The city, like any city, is in need of love, kindness, support and so much more. The desperate level of poverty for many people of La Paz is heartbreaking.  Even so, I have faith that God is taking care of the people in La Paz through the many volunteers that come to serve and help. I’m grateful that God works through us to reach the people that are in most need.”

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Nika Fendler :: “There are countless experiences I had in Bolivia that I will never forget. Between the unforgettable smiles and breathtaking views, my favorite and most impactful memory occurred on the last day. We traveled to El Alto to serve and encourage an extremely poor family living in a tiny, two-room house the size of my bathroom. I played with a little girl named Daniella. She was so sweet and just wanted to play with everything we brought for them. She didn’t smile often, but when she did, it was beautiful. I just wanted to hold her and protect her, but eventually we had to leave. It was so difficult to see her smile fade as we said goodbye. Despite growing up in extreme poverty, she has such a tender and loving heart. All I can remember thinking before collapsing into a heap of tears was that she didn’t deserve that life.
I knew as we drove away that day, I would never be the same. I realized that all of my material possessions mean nothing, and I have no excuse to complain about anything in my life ever.  Most importantly, I learned that at times certain things make no sense to me…and that I don’t understand God’s plan.  For instance, I cannot understand why I have so much while Daniella lives in the dirt.  But, I am learning to trust God and His goodness.  I realize that I possess so much and that I can make a difference in someone’s life by sharing God’s love and truth, especially with those who are hurting.  While situations can sometimes feel unfair and confusing, I will always remember something Noelle shared with me, ‘Our Father is incapable of wishing us harm.’  Daniella and all of La Paz will forever remain in my prayers.”
VEmbling_150606_2679Matilde Jade Rogers :: “I have a special place in my heart for the three year old kids in Bolivia. I spent the first three years of my life in an orphanage in China before my mom adopted me. So when I see the three year olds in orphanages or community centers, I see a bit of me in them. Like them, I was lost, broken, and in need of love.
It made me so happy when our Northview team gave 110% of their energy to the little kids in Bolivia, especially the three year olds. When the team played with the children, I felt like they were playing with me. Every time I saw a team member give a hug to one of the little kids, it felt like I was personally receiving that hug. Three year old me never experienced that kind of love in the orphanage, and it fills my heart to know they get to have that joy even if it’s only for a little bit.
Volunteering in Bolivia with HOPE worldwide helped me finally understand what Matthew 25:40 says…“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
I always took this scripture at face value. It wasn’t until I looked at the little ecstatic faces around me in Bolivia that I realized on a deeper level what this scripture meant. When I saw a child’s face brighten after receiving a blue smiley face sticker, I was filled with joy and love because it felt like I received that sticker. That is how Jesus feels when we serve the poor and those in need. He becomes overjoyed when he sees us serving others, because what we do for the least of these brothers and sisters, we do for him.”

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The HOPE worldwide Bolivia team is incredibly grateful for the volunteers who serve with us.  The work we are doing to help the most vulnerable population in La Paz is made possible because of your love and support!  Please consider making a donation to help advance our work of bringing HOPE and changing lives!  CLICK HERE TO DONATE