by Monica Planas, Regional Communications Manager, ChildFund Americas
Because living conditions in Bolivia are challenging, many families struggle to feed and support their loved ones.
ChildFund Bolivia and its Estrella del Sur Project strategically analyze and plan to help families survive hard times and become more self-sufficient. Each community has different needs, problems and scenarios, so ChildFund works with and for the communities, seeking ways to guide, contribute and facilitate processes that will allow them to eventually make it on their own.
ChildFund’s Gifts of Love & Hope catalog is one direct means for Bolivian families to acquire necessities that help alleviate hardships.
A few years ago, the Estrella del Sur project requested two ovens to equip a kitchen for training community members in pastry and baking techniques. Thanks to these trainings, many community members now have a place to prepare baked goods, which they sell to earn a living.
ChildFund organizes periodic trainings to keep community members involved in constant learning and up to speed on the latest baking and decorating techniques. With these skills, they can compete in the market and offer their products at a higher price.
The Estrella del Sur project community kitchen also has a batter mixer, (another Gifts of Love & Hope request) and several other bakery equipment items and tools purchased specifically to help train the community.
Last year, the project used funds to purchase cake displays and hot dog carts for a group of families interested in working hard to improve their economic conditions. Many families are gaining economic value from the cake displays that were purchased with the support of committed child sponsors. The displays, which provide a pleasing exhibit of the cakes baked by community members, boost sales at Mother’s Day, Fathers Day and national holidays. And 10 families benefit from the hot dog carts used on a daily basis on the streets of Bolivia.
The training and support from ChildFund doesn’t end there, the Estrella del Sur project also delivers entrepreneur and small business workshops for those who wish to take that extra step.
Children, youth and parents are able to take advantage of these workshops, led by consultants who guide them through the process of setting up a small business. Community members gain marketing, sales and financial tools, empowering them to make a better living.
“It’s amazing how members of the community gain self-confidence with our workshops,” says Alvaro Vargas, ChildFund Bolivia coordinator for the Estrella del Sur Project. “Many of the mothers, youth and children who attend our workshops never thought they would be able to approach people and make a sale; they lacked the self-confidence to do so,” she says. “At ChildFund, we not only develop communities, but also the individual.”