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!


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!



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.


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

Pass it on…

We recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Don Ellis from Duke University Medical Center and his teenage Emily.  Don has shared some of his thoughts below regarding his time in La Paz. 

Don and EmilyI recently returned from my third visit to La Paz, Bolivia serving with HOPE worldwide. What made this time a most memorable and treasured experience was the ability to share these moments with my eldest daughter, Emily. It was her first time to venture out of the United States.  I will never forget the look of utter joy in Emily’s face as we took off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport toward our destination!

We spent our 10 days in La Paz immersed in various opportunities which allowed us to interact with the poor on a very personal level. The majority of my time involved providing “consultation” as a visiting pediatrician, facilitating medical lectures and clinical workshops. Emily, on the other hand, functioned as a jack-of-all-trades—meeting with families, organizing donations, and serving within hospitals and community programs.workshop.jpg

While we were grateful to use our time to serve and our resources to provide donations, a sober reality remained in the back of our minds. There would be nearly as much deprivation when we left as when we arrived. There are still overwhelming needs in Bolivia.  Children are still being abandoned, abused, and neglected; women still experience domestic violence; people cannot access vital resources like healthcare, education, and nutrition. Hopelessness prevails in many hearts and homes.

So we asked ourselves, what is the solution?

Do we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by all that we cannot do?

Or do we focus on what we can do? If that latter is our decision….then the question becomes “How can I use my talents, gifts, and energy to love one person at a time?”

I realize that not many of us in history are called to impact the entire world, but every follower of Christ has been given a specific calling: to love the person right next to us, giving to others what we have been freely given. One MORE person who chooses to serve may result in one LESS person feeling alone and hopeless.

And I can do one more thing. I can take the hand of someone younger than myself, the next generation and teach them how to love, to serve and how to not give into discouragement when the needs seem overwhelming.  As I (we) do this, loving the one in front of us and teaching others to do the same, maybe, however gradually, we will start to see a difference.  Maybe the world will begin to shift every so slightly towards something better. Something that looks much more like God intended: a world of mercy, justice, equality and love.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8 

Thank you, Don, for your, and your daughter Emily’s, selfless service to the people of La Paz. Thank you also for sharing some of your thoughts with us.  Thank you for seeing “the one” and being determined to demonstrate the love of Jesus however possible!  

If you would like to learn more about how you can volunteer or provide support to our programs here in La Paz, please contact us!

Short-term Missions: Thoughts to Ponder

Recently, there have been a number of books published discussing the effectiveness of short term mission trips. In his book, Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton says, “Contrary to popular belief, most missions trips and service projects do not: empower those being served, engender [foster] healthy cross-cultural relationships, improve quality of live, relieve poverty, change the lives of participants [or] increase support for long-term missions work.”

IMG_2094After hosting nearly 100+ international volunteers per year, we feel the need to ask ourselves, “If we are going to continue to support short term missions, how can we make sure these trips are having an impact worth the resources they require?”.  Fortunately, Steven Corbett (coauthor of “When Helping Hurts”) writes, “Short-term [mission] trips… can be done in a way that blesses the communities they visit, avoids doing unintended harm, and leads to lasting change in team members’ lives. But doing so involves reframing the purpose of our trips, shifting away from an emphasis on directly engaging in poverty alleviation.”

In other words, there might be a need to redefine what “success” looks like for short-term mission trips. While long-term, sustainable programs are able to foster lasting, positive development, we believe (and have witnessed) that positive results are possible in short periods of time “on the ground”.

However, the question remains: How can we make sure that we are supporting productive short-term missions that address the areas of concern Lupton mentions above? After collaborating with La Paz community members for over 6 years, here are a few principles we have gathered.

1. Empower those being served
Lupton encourages us to not “do for others what they can do for themselves”. When we plan an activity to serve the materially poor, we remind ourselves of this principle. A good first step is to ask the community what they feel they need, and what are they able to offer? If a school needs painted, are there local painters who could be hired? If a wall needs built, are there local builders? If we are creating a library, are there local reading specialists that can be hired to support the program? Materially poor communities often lack resources, not labor.  How can we provide the resources needed, and then support the laborers in their work? Often times, short-term mission members are able to raise funds and/or bring the items necessary to complete these long-standing projects. The short-term volunteers are also able to supplement necessary labor, acting under the guidance of local expertise.


2. [Foster] healthy cross-cultural relationships
There is only one way to cultivate a relationship: spend time together. However, even time spent together must be intentional. It is helpful to teach volunteers from the beginning to be culturally sensitive, to ask questions which encourage connection and openness and to examine themselves for biases and predispositions.

Those receiving resources can, and should, be asked frequently for their feedback. Do they feel respected and valued by the volunteers? Are there ways volunteers can increase in their cultural sensitivity? Is there something that they would like the volunteers to know about their culture? The responses to these questions are able to help further guide these cross-cultural relationships.

3. Change the lives of participants [or] increase support for long-term missions work
In the words of Corbett, “What happens after participants return home is typically the biggest factor in whether a trip was “worth it.” The short-term mission trip will hopefully be the beginning of life-long commitment to community involvement and social responsibility. Each day spent on the mission field is an opportunity to teach and deepen the participants’ understanding of global poverty. At the end of their time here in La Paz, we discuss with our groups how they might continue to serve within their own community, while remaining an ambassador for the programs in La Paz. Upon returning home, they are given tools to present the needs of La Paz to their local communities and churches. Our programs are dependent upon this global support. We have seen firsthand how each participant’s trip here is “worth it” because our Social programs have received ongoing, generous support in the months and years following their time here.

f1616eac2c23389d919fdb6273307062--be-humble-nice-thingsWithin each of these three areas, it is obvious that relationships are key. Without ongoing, honest and humble communication among all involved, mission trips will prove themselves ineffective. Those seeking to serve should be conscious of not looking to gain an experience merely for themselves, but to adapt their goals for whatever best empowers those being served. For example, this could mean passing up the hands-on, emotionally-rewarding experience of playing with orphans and instead organizing closets of donations for overworked staff. Though this can be difficult to understand for some, often the best help short-term volunteers can provide is in terms of relief to those living in the mission field, supporting staff who are able to build long-term relationships with those being served.

Truthfully, it is up to each individual whether or not these short-term trips will result in long-term impacts. Kent Annon says it well in his article, “Poverty Tourism Can Make Us So Thankful”:untitled-document-e1504203193718.pngFurther reading on this topic:
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/toward-better-short-term-missions https://www.challies.com/sponsored/short-term-missions-redefining-success/

If you have thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear them! Please feel free to comment below.

And, if you would like to learn more about our short-term AND long-term volunteer opportunities here in La Paz, please contact us!



Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due

VEmbling_150807_2066Perhaps many of you have not heard much about Gwen Ellis, our Nursing Director and Assistant Medical Director of the CMI HOPE clinic.

And there is a reason for that. You see, Gwen does not seek recognition or glory for all the things she does, rather she lives and serves from a heart of deep compassion and conviction.

One of her favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 4:10-11… “God’s gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully…If anyone serves, they should do it with the strength God provides. Then in all things God will be praised”.

So we think it’s time for you to know more about this amazing woman who God is using to change thousands of lives in Bolivia…

Gwen is a single professional superwoman! She gave up her lucrative nursing and leadership career in the USA in order to devote her heart, time, life, and many talents to serve within a developing country.

There are so many rich words that describe Gwen:

  • Deeply spiritual, possessing a genuine love for God and others (particularly the poor and hurting)
  • Multi-Talented…an experienced nursing leader, a wedding/event planner, a children’s ministry coordinator, and bilingual
  • Wise and mature
  • Devoted, dedicated, and determined
  • Disciplined…she runs marathons UP mountains and leads hiking/climbing adventures up to the highest peaks!
  • Compassionate and nurturing servant and friend…you should see the children surround her!
  • Intelligent and hardworking…the CMI clinic reflects her devotion to beauty and excellence
  • Tireless teacher…she created a Nursing Assistant program in La Paz for impoverished youth.
  • Beautiful, elegant, and gentle…yet also, fiercely passionate, strong, and steadfast.

VEmbling_151026_4305There are many “faces” to HOPE worldwide Bolivia and often Gwen’s face remains unseen. Yet all of us here in Bolivia know without a doubt that HOPE worldwide Bolivia and the Centro Medicó International HOPE clinic would not exist without her.

You see, Gwen is not only the face of HOPE worldwide Bolivia…she is the very heart of all we do!

Please come visit, serve within, and support HOPE’s many health and social program initiatives here in La Paz! And while you’re at it, enjoy walking alongside of Gwen, learning from her.

We think you’ll be more like Jesus because of it!