Last Updated: 19/01/2021

Cases of COVID-19 spiked in Bolivia in the two weeks after the Christmas holiday, with an average of 1,153 infections reported daily. La Paz and Santa Cruz, two of the country’s largest cities, have been especially hard hit. This second wave is reportedly more serious than the first, as more patients are requiring intensive care.

Group activities at all Compassion child development centers remain on hold. Partner churches are working to provide food, disease prevention materials, and hygiene supplies to beneficiaries and their families. They are also checking in with families via phone to provide spiritual and emotional support and arrange for telehealth calls. Compassion Bolivia has deployed teams of physicians and psychologists to support frontline church partners and has conducted trainings to help churches safely resume activities. Since the crisis began, staff members have distributed about 686,000 food packs and 333,000 hygiene kits and provided 39,500 individuals with medical support.

How is Compassion Currently Operating in Bolivia?

Below, you will find the latest information on how Compassion is currently operating in Bolivia, including status updates on center openings, letter delivery and gift delivery. This is the most current information we have, though it can change quickly. Please know that all children and their families are being checked in on regularly by staff, either in person or by phone, even if the Compassion center is not open for programming.

Are Compassion Centers Open?

Currently, all centers in Bolivia are closed. However, staff members continue to call and check in on families. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute about 686,000 food packs and nearly 333,000 hygiene kits to children and their families!

Are Children Receiving Letters?

Letters are currently being delivered in Bolivia, although delivery to and from your child may take a bit longer than normal. We encourage you to continue writing your child, as all children need words of hope and encouragement now more than ever before. Thank you for your ministry!

Are Gifts Being Delivered?

Gifts continue to be distributed in Bolivia. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver, if necessary. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will be notified whether a gift has been designated as a child gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

Story From the Field

For poor families in Bolivia whose resources were already scarce, COVID-19 is creating more challenges. When the government announced a national quarantine, many of the families in Compassion's program could no longer go out to work. They found themselves in an impossible situation: choosing whether to buy sanitation supplies or food.

“When the pandemic started, families weren't paying attention to the safety measures, so we distributed hygiene kits as soon as possible. Otherwise, they were at risk of getting infected,” says Cruz Choque, director of a child development center.

Julia is a single mother of four children. Three of them — sons Yosvany, 10, and Jesus, 11, and daughter Heidi, 13 — are registered in Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program at the local center. Until the quarantine, Julia sold pastries to support her children. When she was no longer able to work, their income stopped. The family had only potatoes to eat. Purchasing sanitizer, soaps and facemasks simply was not possible.

“When I went to pick up my hygiene kit at the church, I wasn't wearing a face mask. I didn't have one, or the money to buy it,” says Julia. “If I don't even have money to buy food, how can I buy a face mask?”

In the kits, children receive hand sanitizers, body soap, laundry soap, rubbing alcohol, face masks, toothpaste and shampoo. Most importantly, they learn the importance of maintaining good hygiene. The center staff explains to parents about the worldwide epidemic, how the virus is transmitted and how to protect their families. They explain how to wear a face mask correctly, how and when to use the sanitizer, and the frequency to wash their hands. These precautions are working.

“We have been taking care just like we learned, and my whole family is using the products you gave us,” says Julia. “We've been practicing the habits, so we are all healthy.”

How can I pray for Bolivia?

Pray that God will give wisdom and effectiveness to health workers as they seek to care for and prevent people from contracting COVID-19.

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