Bolivia Digna is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) based in Cochabamba, Bolivia and founded in 2006. Its objective is to promote and defend the rights of infants, children, adolescents, senior citizens and other vulnerable social groups living in exclusion and poverty, in some of the poorest communities in Latin America.
We are a team of 4 people to run up the association and to ensure efficiency and stability in our project: the Director, two educators (one per site) and the Volunteer Coordinator.
We work in two poor communities in the outskirts of Cochabamba and we have centers provided by these communities. Typically, in each location, a team of 4 to 8 staff and volunteers will work with a group of up to 40 infants, children and adolescents aged between 2 and 17. Although we have rules and the day has some structure, this is not a traditional school environment. The children participate on a voluntary basis.
Cochabamba is a pretty safe city but any volunteers should be careful with personal items and not walk alone in the streets at night. In the project, volunteers are always under the supervision of one of our educators and we always go to the communities by taxi all together.
Since 2006, Bolivia Digna provides informal eduaction to children living in disadvantaged communities. We believe that the best way to support these communities and alleviate poverty is to invest in the formal and informal education of the young people. All people, and especially children, should have adequate living conditions and should have the opportunity to fully exercise their rights.Through educational and social assistance programs, we promote better living conditions and create more opportunities for advancement for people, particularly young people, living in poor or marginal conditions. To augment the existing system, we provide integrated educational assistance to pre-school children and children of school age, and run other projects that benefit their families, their community and the environment in which they live.
The children we work with suffer from a lack of attention and of positive role models as their families are unable to assist with their formal education. Children and adolescents are often required to work and many are left to fend for themselves or are expected to care for younger siblings. These children are at risk of becoming victims of physical, psychological and sexual abuse and human trafficking. They lack support to escape the poverty trap.
Therefore, the primary goals of all of our projects are:
- To provide a safe environment for at least a part of the day;
- To remove some of the burden of responsibility and allow kids to be kids;
- To teach and demonstrate values that are at the core of a healthy society;
- To teach children hygiene habits such as washing their hands and brushing their teeth;
- To assist with and augment formal education to improve future prospects.
We are looking for motivated, passionate and flexible volunteers to help us out with the children, but also to increase the visibility of Bolivia Digna. We could not do the work with do without the volunteers who support our activities, give an added-value to our work by bringing new ideas, new skills and a different culture to share and learn from.
We run several projects and, each of them, while assisting the target group, also has the aim of promoting and instilling a culture of volunteering. To this end, as of early 2015, more than 50 Bolivians and close to 40 international volunteers have been part of our program for periods of between one month and over a year at a time. We have developed a tailor-made programme for volunteers including orientation and a training about their motivations, working with children and the notion of interculturality before their start.
Volunteering at Bolivia Digna, you can learn a lot about how an NGO in the development and education sectors work by getting field experience (working directly with the children every day) as well as seing the ins and outs of the administration, funding and communication of an NGO. As we are a small team, there's always room for initiatives, proactiveness and new ideas!