Cochabamba

Cochabamba
Bolivia Valley Region

The Location

 

The Population

10,290,003

The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

 
 
  • Girls walk uphill to their homes in the valley region, surrounded by hills and mountains. Most Compassion centers in this area are on the outskirts of cities. Bolivia girls walking on road
  • Each child at this Compassion-assisted child development center is being helped to grow in mind, body, heart and spirit. Each is known, loved and protected. Bolivia children waving outside center
  • Family members gather outside their humble home. For many Bolivians in such an impoverished region, every day is a life or death struggle. Bolivia family outside home
  • This girl helps with the laundry. Some children must even give up the hope of education to help families earn money. Bolivia girl washing clothes
  • Eliseo Aro, is a Partnership Facilitator in the valley region who works with 12 church partners. He is known by the children and staff members as a true encourager. Bolivia boys studying at table
  • Prayer plays a vital role in the lives of most Compassion-sponsored children. They respond to the message of God’s love and His daily care for them. Bolivia children in prayer
 

Overview: Valley Region of Bolivia

The people of Bolivia’s verdant valley region face a host of challenges invisible to visitors who flock here for the paradise-like climate and dramatic scenery. This narrow swatch of fertile land in central Bolivia — sandwiched between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon jungle — is Bolivia’s prized region. It produces abundant crops of citrus fruits, coffee beans, wheat, barley and maize. For those who live here, however, life is a daily battle against water shortages, social unrest, and some of the highest poverty rates in South America.

The Bolivian valley is in the grip of a punishing drought. The city of Cochabamba, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in Bolivia, is taxed by an influx of Andean highlands migrants and cannot provide even basic services to its poorest inhabitants. Many houses in the hills receive water only a few hours every two or three days.

Other urban centers in the valley are facing similar growing pains. Tarija, Bolivia’s southernmost state, holds some of the country’s largest natural gas reserves and is home to more than 20 different indigenous tribes, the Guarani being the largest. Historic Sucre, despite its status as Bolivia’s capital and most beautiful city, is straining to meet the needs of a growing population.

A large percentage of the underemployed, primarily in the yungas (jungles) of the valley region, supplement their incomes by participating in illegal coca production. The coca leaf, an important tradition in Andean ritual and chewed almost universally within some indigenous communities, can be used to produce cocaine. The city of Sacaba, in the northern province of Chapare, is considered Bolivia’s coca growing capital.

 

Culture Corner

bolivia valley culture

CHANKA DE POLLO

Chicken soup with potatoes, beans and green onions.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp. chopped green onion (heads and tails)
  • 1 cup of uncooked broad beans (such as butter or fava)
  • 3-4 large potatoes, whole, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp. butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PROCEDURE

Dice heads and tails of the onion separately. Boil chicken breasts in 1 quart of water with chopped onion heads for about 20 minutes.

While chicken cooks, set the broad beans to boil in a separate pan of water with salt for half an hour. When chicken is half cooked, add whole potatoes.

Meanwhile, in a small pan on a low flame, sauté chopped green onion tails and parsley in butter for two minutes.

Remove beans from their pot and strain the water. Add the beans, green onions and parsley to the soup and finish cooking until the chicken is fully cooked.

 

Life in the Valley Region of Bolivia

The valley region of Bolivia is in the central part of the country, in the middle of the Andean range. Area cities are surrounded by plantation lands and hills. Catholicism is the main religion here and in the rest of the country, though some people practice ancestral rituals. The main language is Spanish, but the indigenous people and many parents of sponsored children speak Quechua.

Food prices here are increasing, and poor families have cut back even more. They have also had to switch from expensive propane for cooking to firewood. Malnutrition is common in this region.

Children at Home

Many Compassion-assisted children in this region live in the hills on the outskirts of cities. Their homes are usually poorly constructed of adobe and without running water, electricity or sanitation. Many families must buy water from a truck. The average house has one room shared by six or more family members, and no kitchen.

 

Community Issues and Concerns Bolivia Community

Hunger is an issue for many families. Nearly 30 percent of children younger than 3 are malnourished. Children in the valley region are especially susceptible to tuberculosis and Chagas disease, an infection transmitted by the bite of a bug common in adobe and thatch homes like the ones in which they live. Chagas can cause fatal brain-swelling in infants and is passed from mother to child during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Local Needs and Challenges

The lack of potable water is a problem. In hilly areas, water trucks are unable to reach the houses, and families have to carry water home in buckets.

Homes are crowded; often entire families share one small room. Many children do not live with their parents, who have moved to different cities or other countries to find jobs. Children are then often left with their grandparents. Broken families are common, and many children are raised by their mothers alone.

 

Schools and Education Bolivia Education

In Bolivia, children are required to attend school from ages 6 to 14. The school year runs February to November with summer vacation in December. In the rural valley region only 40 percent of children attend school beyond the third grade. With no school buses, children must walk great and often unsafe distances to attend school. Until recently, lessons also were taught solely in Spanish, to the exclusion of indigenous children who speak Aymará or Quechua.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

In urban locations such as Cochabamba and Sucre, Compassion-assisted centers are a place of safety and security for registered children. At the centers, children learn practical lessons in health and nutrition. They receive tutoring that is not possible in their overcrowded schools. Most important, they learn that God loves them and has a plan for their lives.

 

Working Through the Local Church

Local churches in the valley region of Bolivia offer ideal entry points for Compassion’s ministry. In communities where poverty, neglect and suffering are the order of the day, churches provide the most valuable resource of all: God’s love. By partnering with these churches, Compassion is able to show people in struggling areas what God’s love looks like in action.

Compassion helps churches expand their outreach by becoming child development centers – places where children can go to escape the bitter realities of everyday life. At these centers, children receive physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment. They are introduced to a better way of living. They are given hope for a brighter future.

How Compassion Works in Bolivia Compassion in Bolivia

Compassion’s work in Bolivia began in 1975. Today more than 62,100 children are being served by 204 child development centers throughout the country. Young lives are being changed daily in these centers, thanks to the generosity of Compassion’s donors. Yet for all of our impact, much work remains to be done. Currently thousands of registered children in Bolivia are waiting to be sponsored.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

The Partnership Facilitator serves as a bridge between the local church, which understands the needs of the valley Bolivian community, and Compassion, which has the expertise and resources to meet those needs.

The facilitator talks to church leaders and people in the community to discover their unique problems and challenges, especially those concerning children and their families. The facilitator then works with the staff and lay people of local churches, familiarizing them with Compassion’s specially designed curriculum and helping them understand how to best reach the children in the program. This process often involves tweaking the program to fit the needs of a specific community. The facilitator then oversees the program, addressing issues as they arise.

 
 

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for provision for migrant families who have relocated to the valley in search of work. They live in crowded homes without basic services, money to buy food, or adequate medical attention.
  • Many valley region children have been abandoned by their parents who travel to Spain, Italy, Argentina or other areas in search of work. Pray that God might protect these children and provide them the love and care they deserve.