Changing Lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Proyecto Horizonte in Ushpa-Ushpa outside Cochabamba, Bolivia

Class Photo at the Proyecto Horizonte established school in Ushpa-Ushpa outside Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Sustainable social initiatives change lives forever and the visionary people who create these incredible projects that grow and impact the fortune of an existing community are who inspire me the most.

There isn’t a more perfect example of this than what the Proyecto Horizonte organization is developing in the small town of Ushpa-Ushpa just outside the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Thanks to a connection made by friend and fellow traveler, Kiersten, we had the opportunity to visit Ushpa-Ushpa and work with Proyecto Horizonte for a few days to learn about all the amazing things they were providing for this community.

The village of Ushpa-Ushpa outside Cochabamba, Bolivia

Playing in the unfinished soccer stadium at the school in Ushpa-Ushpa. One of Proyecto Horizonte's many projects!

Home to approximately 1,500 families, Ushpa-Ushpa was established by former miners in August of 2001 who migrated to Cochabamba in search of brighter prospects. Beginning as an illegal settlement outside Cochabamba, the community eventually grew to be recognized as part of the neighboring city even though it lacked any infrastructure for the supply of basic utilities.

Volunteering in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Helping install a new plumbing system to supply running water in all the bathroom sinks.

Ushpa-Ushpa has been a community faced with very difficult social, economical, educational and medical conditions, which unfortunately, is an all-to-familiar occurrence in Bolivia.

Enter a local charitable organization called Sociedad San Vicente de Paúl (which became Proyecto Horizonte) and a young Swiss traveler called Christian Ruehmer. Together they recognized the incredible lack of fundamental resources available to Ushpa-Ushpa and set out to make a difference.

In 2004, Christian met with the local organization and worked together planning and constructing the first kindergarten in town. By December 2004, the first 100 children began classes in the new 4500 square foot building!

Volunteering in Cochabamba, Bolivia

The work crew building a new water purification system outside the kindergarten established by Proyecto Horizonte.

While this would be a great accomplishment in itself, less than 6 months after the kindergarten opened, Christian and the Proyecto Horizonte organization set out to expand the facilities with a new health care center and school.

A Proyecto Horizonte volunteer playing with the kids after school.

A Proyecto Horizonte volunteer playing with the kids after school.

Today there are 150 children between the ages of 1 to 6 years attending the 5 levels of the “Education Initial,” and a daycare program and a recently inaugurated school has 600 children between the ages of 6 to 14 years in attendance.

During the evening hours, a school program for adults is also provided as well as the development of community outreach programs such as sports clinics, sex education and counseling.

New Proyecto Horizonte School Project in Ushpa-Ushpa, Bolivia

This Proyecto Horizonte funded school is home to 600 students, 70 teachers and continues to grow!

Proyecto Horizonte has also leveraged relationships with other NGOs to improve the organization’s sustainability. For example, the Orphaned Starfish Foundation works with orphans and disadvantaged children throughout Latin America and built a computer center at the school, while Save the Children supplied curriculum for computer classes and teacher training resources.

Computer Lab setup by The Orphaned Starfish Foundation in Bolivia

The incredible computer Lab setup by The Orphaned Starfish Foundation

It is truly inspiring to see how the organization is changing the lives and standard of living within this small community outside Cochabamba.

It takes just a few people with great ambition, perseverance and direction to change the world and it makes me think about how I can impact the lives of others through my actions and initiatives.

Is this something you’ve ever thought about?

Proyecto Horizonte outside Cochabamba, Bolivia

Where would these kids be without Proyecto Horizonte?

Traveling to Bolivia? Consider volunteering with Proyecto Horizonte!

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9 Responses to Changing Lives in Cochabamba, Bolivia

  1. You are really seeing Bolivia in a way so much better than most travelers who just cruise through for the Salt Flats. The volunteer program sounds really interesting.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Moloka’i’s ghost townMy Profile

    • Gareth

      Thanks Ayngelina, it has been amazing to be able to experience life in Bolivia beyond a travelers normal route. It makes me appreciate the culture and people so much more.

  2. Is this something I’ve ever thought about? I think about this every.day. I’m teaching in Korea right now to pay down my crippling student debt, but once I’m down to a manageable amount, I cannot WAIT to work for a project like this. Thanks for the info!!

  3. What an great story about how this project is bringing tangible benefits to these kids. There are so many un-told stories of great volunteer programs – thanks for sharing about this one!

    • Gareth

      Thanks Kaitlin! You’re right, this is just one of many projects changing lives around the world and it’s great to get a first-hand experience of all the amazing things they do for this community.

  4. It’s just so nice to hear that there are great people who are willing to create a worthwhile project like this. Yes, it’s truly inspiring. So, how was the experience? I’m sure you did have a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gareth

      It was eye-opening, inspirational and a little bit frustrating knowing that there are so many other communities in Bolivia and throughout the world who don’t have the same potential.

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