Last Updated: 24/09/2020

The Bolivian ministry of health reported a slowdown of new COVID-19 infections this month and a recovery rate of 68.2%. As of Sept. 23, the country has reported 131,000 cases and 7,693 deaths. Several cities have begun to relax lockdown measures by opening more public venues such as cinemas, gyms, liquor stores, cafeterias and internet cafes. School is canceled, both online and in person, until at least 2021. Additionally, the country is plagued by political unrest and protests after presidential elections were postponed for the second time.

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. Since the crisis began, staff members have distributed 427,053 food packs and 197,303 hygiene kits and provided 1,119 individuals with medical support. 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.

A Message From Compassion Bolivia’s National Director

Hear from Mario Vasquez, National Director of Compassion Bolivia, as he shares an update on how COVID-19 is affecting Compassion’s ministry in Bolivia.

Updated: 20/08/2020

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 even if centers are closed and letters and gifts are not being delivered, your child and his or her family are being checked in on regularly by staff. We all look forward to the day we will all be able to gather together again!

Are Compassion Centers Open?

Currently, all centers in Bolivia are closed in order to abide by local guidelines. Staff members are working to create virtual programming activity, including videos and livestreams. They continue to call and check in on families, and in some communities they are able to visit children while obeying social distancing guidelines. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute 427,053 food packs and 197,303 hygiene kits to children and their families!’

Are Children Receiving Letters?

The majority of letters are delayed in Bolivia, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

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 for the people of Bolivia, as many high-ranking political officials, including the interim president, have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

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